The ‘almost’ is palpable. By which I more accurately mean that I am doing the anxiety dance which inevitably prefaces major travel. Well, it does if you’re me.

I had my final ever seminar with my undergraduates this morning, which was rather sad. Well, the mood was happy during it, but I’m sad to see our little group break up. Two of them close read Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies really well – nothing like a bit of the bright young things’ antics to put twenty-something life into persepctive! We also had some end-of-course cakes and a quiz. If you know Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’, then you should be able to answer question 2:
Where is Carl Solomon?

In this digital age, readying for a trip seems to involve the searching of many emails and the printing of PDFs. Maybe it’s my disposition, but this has all the fluster of mechanical whirring and the possibility of paper cuts, and none of the ritualistic calm of folding clothes. Hmm…

Last Sunday I went with some of the other Warwick University Latin and Ballroom dancers to do a demonstration at a local old people’s home. The taxi driver got lost, the space was – how to put it? – unusual and some of our audience didn’t understand why we were there, but it was wonderful. Performing in close quarters is always slightly unnerving and especially since the older generation are quite discerning about ballroom dance: they all used to do it. After our demo, we got the chance to chat to the residents. What’s brilliant is that even after a short time in a community (and the residents there have formed a community), you can really see the characters: the quietly humoured, the comedy duo who purposely cause the staff (amusing) trouble, the couple who’ve been together forever. As a memory scholar, but more as a granddaughter, it bothers me to think that soon the young won’t be able to hear first-hand memories of the Second World War. One lady was telling me about her childhood memories of Coventry in wartime – and nothing brings home that reality as much as watching someone’s eyes see again, or see backwards to their past.

My packing got a little more concerned as I realised that it may snow while I’m in NH. Though today began with a soupy fog, we have actually been on sunshine and – dare I say it – without coats. Everyone is telling me not to be bothered by the prospect of flying, which as yet hasn’t prevented me from being bothered… but there’s time yet! I’ve also been supplied with “distracting” reading material for the journey. I anticipate that this transatlantic flight will mirror the pattern of the last two and mix reading, origami, essay-writing, film-watching and terror-clutching of a hedgehog. Bring. It. On.

Pictures: some of us are better at packing than others; orchids and good weather; book for the flight…