Monday, 8 November 2004


Last week was ISSRE. I've gone into the tech stuff on my other blog, so I'll stick to the social stuff here.

Tuesday night was the welcome cocktail. I pretty much stuck to champagne until the very end, when Benoit invited me to share a whiskey with him. I said OK and asked the hostess for a small one, at which she promptly filled a wine glass. After eventually getting through it, I headed out with Yves and various others for gallettes and cidre. Pretty good time, but not to raucous in the end.

On Wednesday night I went with the rest of the technical staff to, of all things, an Indonesian restaurant. I was looking forward to some Nasi Goreng, Gado Gado, Kari Ayam, etc, and the food was pretty good, in the end. The style was decidedly un-Indonesian, though, very expensive, the waiter explaining every dish in excruciating detail, and the food lacking in any spice (which seems to be a virtue in French restaurants). Also, I wasn't aware that the Indonesians eat a lot of frog's legs, but I was willing to trust our host. The deserts were acknowledgedly not Indonesian, but were very good; I went for pineapple with cardamom ice-cream, an unlikely but very tasty combination.

Thursday started well, was pretty good in the middle, and just got out of hand at the end. We started with a trip to Mont-Saint Michel, interesting if nothing else for the emptiness of the monastery - I was left with the impression that perhaps the changing proportion of tourists versus monks and pilgrims could very well have scared any god away and, if this was the case, he seemed to have taken all his decorations with him. After getting back to St Malo, we started the banquet.

I had heard from an Irishman at the conference that a group had formed over the previous nights of Norwegians, Finns and Germans determined to acquaint themselves with the local beverages. The banquet provided this opportunity. We started on white wine, and even at this early stage the waiters seemed to have realised that more frequent service was required for our table than the others. The white passed well, but it was the move to burgundy that really made the difference. The glasses were enormous, and the norwegian girls had no problem with filling them as one might any other, leading to accelerating and noticable excitement. This in turn attracted certain elements from other tables that made the calvados course just a little more stimulated.

Upon leaving the banquet at the urging of the serving staff, we had formed a dangerous and fairly optimised little group which, armed with half-empty bottles of red and "borrowed" glasses, stumbled out into the walled city in search of further entertainment. It was only when the irishman chose to offer some local authorities a taste of said red that we found ourselves seeking the shelter of a licensed establishment, where over a couple more hours we rounded out the evening. To be honest, I had basically plateaued by the end of the banquet, and everything beyond that point is somewhat less clear. I was pretty rough the next day, but I think the prize for rough went to Benoit, followedly closely by the Irishman.

Names have been omitted to protect the guilty. Except Benoit. He was too guilty.

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