It was all so eerily familiar; the complementary hemp shoulder bags, each containing identical collections of complementary promotional material provided by the sponsors whose names and tastefully respectable logos surrounded the reception area like a chorus of guardian angels gazing down on the chosen with the celestial glow of infinite love and compassion. The chosen formed a dignified line of patience and good humour preparing for what they were about to receive with the good grace and humility that such a privilege should naturally instil. It didn’t matter who you were or how many PhDs you had under your black belt in science and academia or whether your presentation was destined to become one of the most talked about or the most quietly and understatedly brilliant or whether indeed you were merely there to listen and learn, one thing was for sure, you would, at the beginning of it all, undoubtedly receive nothing more and nothing less than a complementary hemp shoulder bag with an official program, a collection of leaflets, a complementary writing pad and a complementary pen.
The same had happened a year earlier at the World Ayahuasca Conference in Ibiza, although in slightly less imperial grandeur as the University of Greenwich, overlooked by the Royal Observatory as it faithfully maintained terrestrial time nanosecond by nanosecond while most of the people queuing up for their bags would probably dispute whether such a notion as time even existed at all.
Lesly should have been there at 8, we got there at 9.10, hopefully the illusory nature of time could be used in our favour. No one seemed to mind and she obediently assumed her duties handing out bags and ticking off names on lists. Later we’d discover that she’d been timetabled in for an entirely different task but, as always in these situations, chaos reigns supreme and order inevitably always prevails.
Flicking through the program was like receiving blurred premonitions of various simultaneous potential realities each orchestrated by a black and white mug shot with a heavenly smile and impressive past. Whichever reality was to condense into actual visceral experience was ultimately down to us and us alone. But which one? Which one?!