I had a fleeting trip to Lancaster this week-end, to the Dorothy L. Sayers Society's Annual Conference. I've been a member of the Society for quite some time, and six years ago, gave their Annual Lecture at Witham in Essex, on the subject of DLS' true crime writing. More recently I worked with them on the publication of Sayers' collected crime reviews, for which I wrote a long commentary: Taking Detective Stories Seriously is a book I'm rather proud to be associated with. This time, I'd been invited to be guest of honour at the conference banquet on Saturday evening.
When the invitation first arrived, my plan was to make the most of the trip by attending the whole conference. Writing commitments made that impossible, alas; a real shame because it was clear from what I heard while I was there that delegates had been treated to several fascinating talks. The venue, incidentally, was Lancaster University, and I was intrigued by the campus, the geography of which seems to a stranger to be rather Kafkaesque. Bemused, I stopped at a map at one point, to be joined by a taxi driver, who said, "I've been coming here thirty years, mate,and I still get lost."
Anyway, I eventually found my way around, and met up with the Society members. The banquet was really enjoyable, and I was especially interested to meet someone who once corresponded with Paul McGuire, a relatively obscure but highly capable Australian detective novelist of the Golden Age, whom Sayers - among others - reviewed warmly. And once I'd given my speech at the conclusion of the banquet, I was able to relax over a drink or two. All very agreeable.
The Society does a great job in engaging with Sayers fans all around the world, and is well worth joining if you're a fan. My thanks to Seona Ford, Chair of the Society, for making my trip such an enjoyable one.