We arrived Wednesday afternoon, with plenty of time to take the Tube from Heathrow into London, find our lodging, check in, and make it to a dinner for conference delegates arranged by the event's organizer, Dr. Ian Williams. The 10-hour flight was terrible--wailing toddlers and bumpy all the way, I don't think the seat belt sign was turned off once--so you can imagine how sharp and fresh we felt joining the gang for dinner at Mildreds. It was still great to meet Ian and a few others I'd known only as e-mail correspondents, but by the time we returned to our hotel at 11 p.m. we were pretty exhausted.
the Goodenough Club. It was.
We slept in and poked around the city a bit on Thursday morning, so missed the beginning of the conference (I wasn't scheduled to speak until 2 p.m.), coming 'round a bit before noon. Supported by the Wellcome Trust and held at the University of London, the "Graphic Medicine" conference was a tremendously interesting mix of academics and comics enthusiasts, medical practitioners and ink-stained wretches like me, all interested in what happens when you mix healthcare with comics.
The event was limited to 75 attendees; just guessing based on who I met, I'd estimate that about half were from the UK, one-third from the U.S. and Canada, and the rest from various elsewheres. Most of the talks took place in one large classroom (really two, with the dividing wall between them open), with breakout sessions in a smaller room downstairs, and lunch and an after-conference wine reception held in a large central hall.
I think my keynote lecture went very well. I had to improvise when I realized that not everyone could read the comics in my slides due to how the room was configured, so I read them all aloud. People said nice things afterward. I spoke for about 40 minutes, took some good questions, and then sat in on a couple of other sessions before doing a panel discussion with Darryl Cunningham and the effervescent Philippa Perry that closed the day. I found Darryl's cartooning particularly interesting; in addition to his book Psychiatric Tales, based on his own experiences working in a psychiatric hospital, he's done a journalistic comic eviscerating Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the discredited quack who convinced millions that the MMR vaccine causes autism, and hopes to do future work taking apart the Moon Landing Hoaxers. I admit I wasn't familiar with his work before, but I think he'll be one of my favorites in the future. I also enjoyed getting to know Ada Palmer, whose day job is assistant professor of Renaissance history at Texas A&M but who would rather study the work of manga master Osamu Tezuka.
Friday and Saturday, Karen and I got to be tourists doing the mandatory tourist things: the British Museum, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square (one of the great public spaces in the world), Covent Garden, Parliament and Big Ben (which I know isn't the name of the clock or tower, but of the big bell inside). Even Harrod's, which was nuts. I won't bore you with stories of our blistered feet nor more than a couple of photos.