Apologetic (t)rain.

Blogroll, Comments, Finland

When I was living in what can without doubts be called the best flat-share ever,  with my flatmates we wrote down some of the brightest ideas we came up with (usually in the kitchen, for some unexplainable reason).

One of the ideas was on an autumny note: the nature of British rain. It does happen frequently, yes, but it is very different compared to say Dutch, German or Finnish rain.

When it rains in the above-mentioned countries, it is usually the all-or-nothing rain (with the exception of the autumn drizzle), pouring down like as if there was no tomorrow, sometimes the drops would become steady streams of freezing liquid flowing parallel to the Earth’s surface, blinding, leaving you and your clothes without a chance.

British rain, however, starts conspicuously, carefully, with its head down. The drops are avoiding coming down in some recognisable pattern. For the entire duration of the shower you feel as if the rain was behaving as a native English passenger on the tube passing from the front doors toward the middle of the car: “excuse me, sorry, thank you, ooops, sorry darling, thank you, pardon, sorry m’love, thank you, cheers, ta”. Sorry for making you wet. 

Now. Last week I went to Turku to attend an academic conference, unfortunately one of the worse ones. As an anthropologist I can never be sure how (in)valuable my findings and how suitable my method is, our professors did teach us a thing or two about academic research. The principle of anthropology research is to avoid stating the obvious, and the essential presenting skill includes knowing the difference between a “presentation” and “reading your paper in front of everyone (accompanied by a set of mediocre powerpoint slides)”. How come people who have been in the field for 15+ years have not heard of these? What’s the point of reading out loud a paper in bad English and boring everyone while presentation can serve as a great tool for acquainting the audience with research findings?

I was sitting there, melting. Thought I’d chuck one of the muffins we got with our coffee at the poor person, and I sincerely hoped I was not the only one in the lecture theatre thinking that a fair half of presentations were dreary.

The Turku train knew in advance I had a bizzare experience ahead of me and decided to be delayed by half an hour. My fellow passengers and I were freezing at the platform, when – just like the British apologetic rain – the train appeared from behind the poles and slowly and in a guilty manner approached the platform.

Avoiding eye contact, just like a guilty dog. 


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