Sunday, 16 August 2015

Crowds and Conferences



Years ago, when I was married and skinny and mum to a baby, I was teaching at a bayside school in Brisvegas. It was not a happy happy time. I was, in typical Education Queensland fashion, teaching the wrong subjects to kids who didn't give a shit, in rooms that though new, were already run down. The Head of Department was getting his leg over one of the girls in the crowded staffroom, even though his wife was also on staff and for some reason, deflection most likely, told or implied that I was the lucky recipient of his attention. Being the newbie and the breaker-upperer of marriages did not make me miss popular. It took some time to work out why everyone was quite so brittle, and then the contract ended and I wooshed off somewhere else, with never a backward glance.

But all this wasn't the reason for my unhappiness, it was just the nature of school life in the 80s.

Once a week 2000 - yep 2000! kids would herd into quadrangle of melting bitumen, surrounded on all four sides by 2 floors of typically beige style buildings. They'd line up next to 200 teachers. We'd mark the rolls - big green folders we were constantly reminded were of significant legal importance and then listen to the banal ramblings of the headteacher or whoever was gonna wax lyrical from their shaded lofty position while the rest of us all but perished in the stifling heat.

I am not tall, and high school kids, especially year 12 boys are nearly always taller and bigger than me. I felt well and truly dwarfed.

Every week, my fear of a 2000 kids rioting grew.

The microphone grabbers were not entertaining, and the heat was appalling and I imagined easily that the kids could just decided one day to give it all a big miss and stampede outta there and I would be crushed in the crowd. It still beggars my belief that all those kids were so well behaved.

Being stampeded is the stuff of terrible nightmares. Not by elephants on the Serengeti, but by people trying to escape fire or fighting for the last cucumber sanga or finger bun.

So I knew that there was gonna be 700 people at this conference I went to on the weekend, and I was nervous about it, but pushed on anyway, how bloody brave huh?

The Meet the Newbies on Thursday afternoon saw about 3-400 strangers stuffed into a bar come nightclub and after a brief intro, a game of Guess Who began. Well the noise!! I stood as still as I could but was jostled and bumped. There was no chance of a personal bubble. That burst immediately. I played the game and did a runner. I was outta there, and home to Steve and dog and space and silence. AHH.

Friday morning I fronted up, grabbed a coffee and made sure of an aisle seat for the Key Note address.

700 people fitted easily into the auditorium and I was not too far from the doors and they weren't too far from the outside doors so all was well.

Most of the info was good and I reckon I have learnt quite a lot about blogging and stuff, but not as much as I might have done had I been able to network during the breaks.

As soon as it seemed that a session was about to close I ran on outta there, grabbed the first bit of truly delicious food I saw and escaped into the fresh air. I reckon an elephant might have made way for ME I was in such a determined hurry.

The Problogger Conference was very good. I am proud to say that I made it through to the penultimate session before I had to flee. I met some good people and some weird people ( I know I am probably on the weird list for some of 'em too - horses for course and all that )

The Royal Pines Golf Club was the perfect host. Nothing it seemed was too much trouble, the food was exciting - poached veal delicately sliced topped with tuna nicoise sauce was probably my favourite although all the sweeties were very scrummy, and the staff were efficient and friendly.

On reflection I am pleased that I pushed way out of my comfort zone and perhaps surprisingly, am considering going again next year, although I am aware of the difference between thought and reality.