Conference Calling

November 26, 2017


I went to a conference this week. My calendar planned it as follows:

Tuesday 3.30pm: Leave for Hotel

Weds 9.00am: Leave hotel for Conference

Weds: 9.30am to 3.30pm: Attend Conference

Weds: 3.30pm Leave for home

Weds: 8.00pm Arrive home.


Here’s how it actually went:


Monday 9.00pm. Find random assortment of clothes and overnight stuff. Find overnight case at back of shed. Discover it has been used as a cat toilet for what looks like several months. Ditch case. Seek alternative. Pack clothes in Minions shopping bag and sigh, deeply. Decide to style it out anyway. Check Twitter. Bed.


Tuesday 3.30pm. Finally locate kids after school , make sure they have school bags, bus fare, injections (child 1 is diabetic). Reiterate instruction to younger child (child 2 is autistic) to do whatever they are told by child 1. Be sure Child 1 understands that this unlimited power can only be used for good and not slavery, and only lasts until Husband meets them at the bus stop. Deal with the 12 emails and 4 phone calls that have happened in those few minutes. Check Twitter, Ignore the “I know you’re leaving early but….” calls from colleagues and head for Reception. Sign out. Go back into school, feed goats. Leave again. Find hotel post code in raft of accompanying paperwork, input postcode into Barbara (my Sat Nav and I have a great relationship). Notice faint goat pee aroma in car.


Tuesday 3.45pm Check Twitter. Set off. Ignore increasingly strange goat pee aroma.


Tuesday 4.00pm. Stop at petrol station. Buy car air freshener to counteract goat pee smell. Ring kids to make sure they have got on the right bus. Insist on speaking to both children to ensure that one has not sold or killed the other. Ring husband to make sure he has remembered he is collecting the kids from the bus stop. Ignore distinct lack of certainty in husband’s voice and assume all will be well. Check Twitter.


Tuesday 6.00pm. Stop at services. Discover that goat aroma is coming from own boots. Realise that Ethel the goat was not just rubbing my knee earlier, but was actually peeing on my feet. Phone home. Kids and husband all safely in same location. Check Child 1 had done injections. Hadn’t. Wait on phone whilst injections are done. Ask what kids are having for dinner. Accept that smarties and toast is an acceptable meal. Eat salad-based dinner. Check Twitter. Spot drive-thru Starbucks and use banked salad points to offset Chai Latte and shortbread.


Tuesday 8.00pm. Arrive at hotel. Check in. Ignore suspicious look from concierge checking out Minions shopping bag and looking for stowaway child. Unpack. Consider heading to hotel lobby to ‘network’. Dismiss such nonsense and check work emails (26). Dispatch all but the vital ones. Check Twitter. Spend moment enjoying the insanity of white bed linen and consider life expectancy of such in own home (23 seconds). Check the pillow menu and consider phoning reception for alternative pillow options, despite surfeit of available pillows stacked heroically along top half of bed. Make tea with mini kettle in mini mug with mini milk carton. Tip tea down mini sink. Attempt to clean goat pee smell from boots in shower using hotel free hand soap. Drench boots and self. Attempt to dry boots using hotel hairdryer. Fail. Accept steaming goat pee and orchid as a new room fragrance.


Tuesday 9.00pm. Attempt Skype call. Try to locate Skype log in. Download and reinstall new version of Skype. Consider throwing phone out of 4th floor hotel window. Skype husband – no answer. Skype child 1 – no answer. Panic. Skype child 2, who answers, but is unable to engage in conversation as I’m a Celebrity has started. Hold Skype conversation with dogs, who seem well, if perplexed. Lose Skype connection as dog sits on phone. Delete closing image of dog’s arse. Check Twitter. Sleep.


Wednesday 7.00am. Get up, pack, sniff boots. Still soggy, with faint goat pee aroma, but with sig+ improvement on previous. Douse boots liberally with Jo Malone Grapefruit hoping citrus tones will harmonise well with somewhat acrid hints of caprine urine. Breakfast, check Twitter, check out. Phone husband. Remind him to make packed lunches, remember child 1’s injections, check child 2 has underwear on the right way round and is wearing socks, ideally matching. Remind him of location of Scouts uniforms and start time of Scouts meeting that evening.


Wednesday 8.30am Arrive at conference. Park in distant car park and walk for 20 mins to conference hall in soggy boots. Develop blister. Notice car park shuttle bus pull up at venue just as I arrive on foot. Mill around. Receive forcible instruction from shouty steward to join right hand queue for online registration. Consider rebellion and head towards left hand queue. Think better of it. Tweet surreptitious insult to shouty man.


Wednesday 9.00am to 3.30pm. Enter conference. Avoid eye contact with all stall holders until have had a chance to check out their free gifts. Find seat in main theatre, deliver Goat badges to prominent Edu-Folk. check Twitter, check emails, remind 2nd In Charge of Goats to feed goats, check online to see that kids have arrived in school. Enjoy conference, checking emails periodically during mindfulness sections. Cruise exhibition hall collecting free pens, bags, squishy stress balls and sweets by showing feigned interest in a variety of unsuitable products (don’t judge me, we need pens, I slashed the stationery budget again this year). Try and fail to find and meet all the tweeps I wanted to catch up with, but enjoy a good day nonetheless. Hobble to ladies toilets to check soggy boot aroma situation and all appears under control, if damp. Receive call from school saying child 1 had left injections at home, but spares have been located. Husband apologetic.


Wednesday 3.30pm. Leave conference. get shuttle bus to car park (Ha!) , throw stash of goody bags in boot of car. Remove all paper fliers and leaflets from bags and dump in nearest bin. Retain free gifts. Phone husband to check he has picked kids up from school. No reply. Phone child 1. No reply. Phone child 2. No reply. Assume family dead. Check Facebook. Husband has posted within last 30 minutes so is still alive, assume with children. Check Twitter. Set off for home.


Wednesday 5.30pm. Child 2 calls asking where Scout uniform is. Shouting in background. Resolve argument satisfactorily. Remind husband I will pick kids up from Scouts. Stop for Starbucks again (no salad points to cash in, but free pennage counts). Reply to urgent emails, check Twitter. Traffic. Accept Barbara’s detour.


Wednesday 7.30pm. Barbara’s detour has failed. Stuck in traffic on M25. Stop at Cobham services for jacket potato and unnecessary purchases from WH Smith. Husband rings (it’s a feckin miracle) to say he will collect kids from Scouts and did I want McDonalds. Decline. Ignore concerns about family eating habits.


Wednesday 8.30pm. Arrive home. Collapse on sofa with dogs and cats in furry group hug. Check Twitter and throw boots in bin.


Wednesday 9.30pm. Husband and kids arrive home from Scouts, smelling of chicken nuggets. Hugs. Watch I’m a Celebrity with Child 2 whilst Child 1 raids my pen stash and makes off with the best ones. Tea. Check Twitter. Deal with email backlog. Email conference for CPD attendance certificate. Do night time injections with Child 1. Explain tomorrow’s schedule to Child 2. Unpack Minions bag.


Wednesday 10.30pm. Hobble up stairs. Collapse on crumpled, non-white but wonderfully familiar bedding. Sleep.












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