What happens when you say yes
The Arts Society is a national organisation that aims to educate, promote and support the arts. I joined seven years ago and have enjoyed attending the monthly lectures ever since. If you check through my blog, you will find that I have regularly written up the lectures. I’ve enjoyed them that much. These are some of my favourites.
So two months ago, at the end of one of the lectures, a request was made if anyone was interested in taking over from the current Events Secretary. A chance to actually book the lecturers and topics? My hand shot up. Now, I’m not a natural volunteer, I’m quite lazy and I don’t care for committees, but this was right up my alley. Plus, I have loved these lectures so much and derived so much pleasure and inspiration from them that in the ugliest of self-deprecating terms; I wanted to give something back.
Well, as soon as I raised my hand, it was bitten off. My offer was accepted, and we were off to the races. In fact, everything happened very quickly because the following month was the annual Directory Day in London. No, I had no idea what that meant either. What it was, in fact, was when the annual selections are made for the future bookings and it’s exhausting.
I had a lovely lunch with the current secretary who has booked so many fabulous talks that I do honestly feel somewhat nervous about taking over her role but we agreed our handover would span the rest of this year, rather than drop me in the deep end. And then I headed up to London. She warned me it would be exhausting; she was bang on.
Into the maelstrom
I arrived at Central Hall, Westminster and was blown away. There were over two hundred lecturers in attendance, all seated at tables. Apparently the numbers were down as covid was still an issue. It’s hard to imagine it busier. In addition to the stalls, there were presentations in the auditorium. New lecturers got a whole two minutes to pitch their lectures. Exciting lectures entered a draw for the opportunity to talk for one minute. These presentations took place in four blocks throughout the day. In the gaps, we had to head back to the halls and chat to the lecturers not able to talk. One auditorium, three halls, xx lecturers, each with multiple lecture subjects. It felt like I was heading to St Ives, kits and cats. The number kept increasing.
Jaye had given me some good tips to deal with the tidal wave of information. Dismiss anyone that overran their time span. Dismiss anyone that you couldn’t immediately hear. Dismiss muttering, mumbling and stuttering. I would have dismissed myself on the spot! But it helped me narrow things down. I watched the audience and when they laughed or leaned in; I made a note of the lecturer. I also watched as people yawned or looked around the room, and I made a note of those lecturers as well.
By the end of the day, I went home. London is exhausting and exhilarating at the best of times, but this time I was utterly wrung out. And elated. So many incredible, fascinating people. Such knowledge.
Back home and collapse
Back in Cornwall, I met with other area secretaries and my mentor and we discussed the various lectures and have established the ten topics for 2024, with a handful of reserves in place as well. Yes, we book that far in advance. For now though, we are going through the booking requests and trying to slot everyone in place. And honestly, I would have booked hundreds. The quality was that high.
I can’t tell you who we have shortlisted yet, but I can urge you to go and find your local society and join up. It’s not just lectures, they also offer days out with behind the scenes access, study days as well as supporting youth activities and art in the community. Go and have a look.
Liz Hurley as well as being the owner of this blog, runs a bookshop in Cornwall, right by the sea and writes books. You can buy them in her shop (of course), Waterstones and other outlets, as well as Amazon.
When she’s not reading, she’s writing and when she’s not writing, she’s walking. And when she’s not doing any of that she’s binging on box sets and sleeping.
This website is for her fictional works. Her Cornish non-fiction titles and walking guides can be found at https://www.cornishwalks.com