Simon Poulter
Systems Analyst
view office

Subject: disenCHANT
Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2001 10:04:48 -0800
From: simon poulter <>

disenCHANT 2001

venue: Ars en Ré

This year's disenCHANT symposium was rather pale compared to last year's extraordinary events. I was travelling in the company of two fellow chaps from Brighton. Initially I found them polite and their company worthy. On the train down they began a shaving foam fight with the ticket collector. I asked to be re-accommodated into First Class, on discovering the three of them wearing rubber masks in the lavatory.

On arrival on the island we were quickly whisked to the symposium hotel, next to the rather pretty port area. I observed many older people coming and going sampling the local sea food platters. Retiring to my room, I slept for several hours and experienced a complex dream which I shall now describe before beginning my turgid report:

An éffete man in his late fifties erects a sign - 'East of Ship Monkey'. It transpires that this is a computer game for gay men. A replacement set of automotive spanners are offered as a prize to the person who can guess the reason to read this text. Five Jerusalem artichoke heads are placed in an enormous vase, their weight only just held by it.
A group of men sit playing East of Ship Monkey on a large screen. They argue about technique and eventually one of them jumps up from his chair and shouts "Let's set up a complex legal nightmare". They drop the controls of the game and assign various assets over to each other by way of legally binding agreements. One of them, a solicitor, says "I think this will do".

I am abruptly woken up by a knock on the door. The hotel boy brings me the cherryade and sympathy bandages I requested on arrival.

I meet up with a number of colleagues from my Department. They all seem convinced that this meeting is a waste of time. Like me, they have turned up expecting trouble. We sit through eighteen Powerpoint presentations and then retire to the bar. I order a cherryade, the others down whisky and scarcely show an interest in my suggestions. I keep notes you see - on everything.

We walked up to the northern port area. Very tourist laden. I conjure up the courage to eat a basket of live eels, a local delicacy. Barry Harst talks for two hours on the relationship between GDP and disenchantment. We politely clap at the end and Barry chides us all on our lack of enthusiasm. The joke is on me later as I receive a fax from the office ordering me to complete work on the Lake of Enthusiasm.

I have switched hotels. Last night several youths set fire to a camping car outside my window. The smell of burning curtains was unbearable. I am now in the slightly more up-market 'Angleterre'. The service proves to be considerably better. A small tray by the side of each bed offers guests pink coated biscuits and copious quantities of dispirin.

Finally meet up with Harry. He is quite satisified with the quality of the symposium. He will give his talk 'enchantment and mercury - ways forward for the common people' later in the afternoon. I agree to attend. A nervous Harry fluffs his way through to the end. His topic, ethnicity in communication, is relevant and well researched - however the man is dull at the best of times. I discover the two chaps from Brighton huddled up in some makeshift dog blanket. They throw insults at me across the room, which I ignore.

My final day. We explore the limits of the town. The strange spire, visible on the publicity for the event looks like an imitation rocket, not quite credible. But it can be seen from the surrounding fields. Barry Harst invites us to watch his annual ritual and naturally selects the most anodyne looking field. The hole now complete, he eases himself into it and we cover him with local sand. It wouldn't be disenCHANT without this oddly repetitive celebration. We depart and I vow to commission a new version of my life laid out in a manner contemporary with my favourite Eagle annuals.