I was fortunate enough to attend the Society of Indexers (SI) Annual Conference from 2-4 September 2011. Organised by the British and Irish professional body for indexing, it was held at the beautiful Keele University in Staffordshire. And that is why, on 31 August, I found myself on an Emirates flight leaving South Africa behind. The thing I’ll remember most about the flights is how long it took. 22 hours did not sound like a long time to me, until I actually experienced it. On the upside, there were many movies and TV episodes to watch on my very own little screen.
After landing in Manchester Airport I enjoyed a ride in a taxi arranged for me through the travel agent. It was the one ‘luxury’ that I gave myself, not wanting to figure out the public transport in a strange country right after a long flight. It was definitely worth it. The driver pointed out landmarks and interesting places, and at the end of it, it felt like I’ve had a tour of the city. Later that day I walked around Manchester city, trying to look like a local.
After a good night’s rest and a healthy (read: HUGE) breakfast in Manchester, I went in search of Piccadilly station and my train to Stoke-on-Trent. A train and bus ride later and a little bit of walking saw me at the registration desk of the conference. The venue of the conference was a building on the huge Keele University campus. The accommodation was a few minutes walk from the conference facilities in a pretty building complete with grassy courtyard.
Then followed a jam-packed program, with informative talks and workshops and interesting conversations with other indexers in between. Those conversations were such a treat for me. Having the opportunity to be able to talk to indexers, not only from England, but also from America, Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands was amazing. The two sessions that stood out for me were the “Indexing bibliographies and other life writings” and the “Experienced indexers’ discussion” workshops. Both were informal and a lot of questions were asked. For reports on the conference, have a look at http://www.indexers.org.uk/index.php?id=403 and http://adelef.wordpress.com/. Of course reading the conference reports is not the same as actually being there. It’s an excellent learning experience and one I’ll definitely recommend.
After the official close of the conference and a last lunch together, I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride to the train station and managed to take the correct trains to Manchester airport. After checking in and going through security, I was met with an oasis of shops. My only regret was that I did not have enough time to explore England more. I suppose that will have to wait for next time…