This post has been brewing for a while as it’s been four weeks since I flew back from Madrid after attending the METM14 conference organised by the association of Mediterranean Editors and Translators. Most of my busyness has revolved around work, routine family life and still trying to get the house we moved into at the end of July sorted in time for Christmas. But towards the end of October and beginning of November I was actually socially busy for a change.
First came a few days in a cottage in Kent to attend a 50th birthday party. Held in a house perched on top of a hill overlooking the Channel with the twinkling lights of France in the distance, we were kept warm outside by a couple of bonfires, dazzled by a firework display that could rival many a public one, and entertained by fire-eaters and magicians before sitting down to a wonderful chef-prepared meal served to us as if we were in a restaurant. The evening was then rounded off by a highly amusing and polished drag cabaret act.
The following Halloween weekend I was in El Escorial staying at the impressive Euroforum business venue where METM14 was held, just a short stroll away from the imposing monastery King Philip II had constructed in the sixteenth century. Usually I dress up in my witch costume and go out trick or treating with the children. This year I ended up being persuaded by a couple of lovely ladies I’d met over dinner (which was scrumptious) to see if we could find any spookiness in the town. And the Red Toad pub delivered some with Dracula serving drinks in a dark room draped with fake cobwebs.
Back at home after my trip I spent a hectic week catching up as I’d been away for over a week before being rewarded with another night out, this time to see Wicked at The Mayflower in Southampton. I’m a big fan of musical theatre and we go to shows quite often. But Wicked is in a different league to the majority. We’ve seen it twice now and as soon as the curtain came down I knew I’d be taking the family again because its messages are good ones. In some ways the exploration of identity in Wicked reminds me of Max Frisch’s Andorra and some of Bertolt Brecht’s plays. It’s so much more than a bunch of actors singing and dancing on the stage to keep an audience amused for a few hours.
What does all this have to do with METM14? Besides the tenuous Halloween/witch theme, all three events have something else in common: quality. They are, in my humble opinion, the best of their kind I’ve experienced so far. Admittedly, I’ve been to more parties and shows than I have conferences, but I’m very glad that when faced with an ever-increasing choice of translation events I plumped for MET’s.
The two and a half days began for me with one of the pre-conference workshops (which METM offers for a modest additional charge) with Mary Ellen Kerans showing us just how useful corpora can be in our work. I still need to revisit all the information she gave us as there was a lot to take in. The second extra session I attended the following morning was on readability with John Bates. His three-hour workshop whizzed by as he explained 10 strategies for improving flow in translated or non-English speakers’ texts. I could quite happily have spent my whole time at the conference focusing on editing aspects, and given that MET is an association for editors as well as translators, the presentations did not disappoint. Apart from a couple of plenary talks, two tracks were on offer at the same time. Unlike other conferences I have attended, however, most of the sessions were shared by two or three speakers and each had a chair to provide a brief introduction and moderate post-talk question time.
Unfortunately, I signed up a bit too late to take full advantage of the Off-METM networking lunch and dinner groups that brought a small bunch of people together to discuss specific topics (the Pomodoro technique, which I’m thinking of implementing, productivity, blogging, mentoring, to name but a few). But I did manage to join in the yoga session and the group walk to the Chair of Philip II to get a fantastic view of El Escorial and bit of exercise after all that sitting around.
My conference experiences have been positive on the whole so far, and I’ve met friendly, interesting and entertaining individuals at every one I’ve attended. The tenth METM was no exception since this gathering drew an amazing crowd who awed me with their knowledge and professionalism and fascinated me with their stories. Discovering the personalities behind the photos you are familiar with in the virtual world is always a pleasure, as is engaging with colleagues that don’t frequent social media quite as much or even at all. Many thanks to all the organisers for such a splendid event. I’ll be back.
METM15 will be held at the University of Coimbra in Portugal
This post was first published on 29/11/2014 on my previous blog.