Sociolinguistics Symposium 18, Southampton, 1-4 Sept
I step out of the lobby to get some air as it is getting stuffy and I have my jacket on. Moments before this, a man dressed in a white t-shirt, custom printed, is getting money out of the £1.75 a turn cash machine. It is not yet nine o’clock in the morning. On the front, the t-shirt reads “MATTS STAG SOUTHAMPTON 2010” as if next year there would be another stag do. The lack of the apostrophe leaves me deeply upset. The lack of care, the lack of one person to look over the batch set before printing them all. They have preposterous nicknames on the back, “Beer Monster”, “Donut” and so on. It should be doughnut. The lobby smells of fried breakfast. Outside, an old man who was there the day before at the same time is taking an improbable amout of time over a roll up cigarette. The men on the stag do mill around with an air of expectation, boredom, uncontained energy, I’m not sure. My cab driver pulls up – he’s an immigrant, and his English is excitable and he jumps out to get my case into the boot. They start up with the impressions. I’m not sure if it was something unrelated. “I am soo excited to be in En-gar-land,” they chime, and I picture them inebriated, goading some people with different colour skin near a Brannigans, clutching a pint of Fosters purposely served in quick shatter glasses. I feel bile rise up as we speed off up to the Highfield campus. I hate cab rides, the liminal awkwardness, I hate provincial towns, I hate awful stag events in Jury’s Inn hotels that begin with faded blue jeans, white t-shirts and loafers and a bash at the £1.75 a turn cash machine before nine o’clock. Before the cab arrives, the partner of the roll up man turns up with a shopping trolley and they head towards the town centre together and I wonder what they talk about.