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20 May 1990

I duly gave the talk in Sheffield, talking mainly about the contribution to be made to the interviewer/interviewee relationship by studying the psychoanalytic literature, much of which addresses the issues, the processes and so on. The talk was a wing-and-a-prayer job, and fortunately the prayer worked. I had been told we had fifteen minutes - there were four of us to fit into about an hour and twenty minutes, with five minutes of question+answer after; the first speaker spoke for something over twenty minutes, the second for thirty or so - in any event there were five and twenty minutes left in the session. I had not managed to organise my thoughts into a structure, and the lack of time came as a godsend - the audience was on my side (I began by saying "I am madly editing", glancing meaningfully at the clock), and the thoughts organised themselves into a performative ten minutes. As a performance it was fun, and was apparently also entertaining; coherent probably not, but it went so fast I expect only one or two noticed. Much suffering (I have ceased to enjoy giving prepared talks) wasted. It was, effectively, my public goodbye to folk studies for the foreseeable future, as I dig into work here; I had more or less announced same to close colleagues a couple of weeks before.

 

[This was the "International Conference on Inter-disciplinary Issues in Folklore, Oral History and Popular Culture" at the University of Sheffield. Work in the Archive began pressing out other areas of my career. That 20 and then 30 minute paper, with another paper to be squeezed in after mine, determined my approach as a moderator/facilitator of conference sessions. There is a basic respect for others, which is incumbent on everyone, including the listeners. The listeners are not just there to be fed; but to actively engage with the speakers. And each speaker is due the respect of the time they have been given.]