preparing for dinner
Tonight is the night of the Meltzer Dinner, where the prize will be officially announced. It’s Lauritz Meltzer‘s birthday today, you see, and he not only left his considerable fortune to the Meltzer Foundation, which is able to give out well over 10 million kroner a year in research funding, he also put a caveat in his will: The money would fund research at the University of Bergen, if Norway managed to set up a University of Bergen within ten years of his death. The university was founded five years after Meltzer died, in 1948, as the second university in Norway after Oslo. So thank you Meltzer!
I hadn’t realised there was an annual dinner to go along with the funding announcements, but this year I’m invited, as one of the prize winners. As far as I’ve gleaned, all the full professors at the University are invited. Not all attend – one professor I talked to laughingly said he’d been protesting such an offensively bourgeois use of potential research funds since the seventies, and certainly couldn’t start going now. Actually I’m inventing a little of that – I’m not even sure whether the dinner was held in the seventies, but it’s much more fun to think of it as an Ancient, Secret Ritual, a legacy of the academia of earlier times, something protested by the generation before me but that I’m free to attend merrily due to being born in a fortunate decade. I imagine all the full professors (none of us young associate professors of course) wearing tuxedos and evening gowns, and giving erudite yet witty speeches and wearing fat, official I-have-a-PhD-from-the-University-of-Bergen rings. It’s to be held at the SAS Radisson Hotel Norge, which, being traditionally (though perhaps not currently) the best hotel in town, suggests at least some degree of splendor. On the other hand, C. said he’d seen photos, and some people were wearing suits, but others only lusekofter. Which might be interpreted as dressing down or as dressing with national pride. I’ve found clear evidence that men wear suits to this dinner (1, 2). It’s a little less clear what most women would wear.
If it’s simply a dinner, I can obviously wear my plain yet perfectly serviceable black dress, perhaps with a nice scarf or necklace or something. If it’s an Ancient and Secret Ritual, it’s clear I’ll need a new dress. Which is really the conclusion I want to reach, anyway, so let’s go with that theory.
Synn¯ve always looks incredibly groovy, so I asked her where to go to buy a suitable dress. She suggested KlÊr on Bryggen if I wanted to look like a hip, 30-something-year-old researcher (though she warned me they would also have hip 40-something-year-old clothes there – ooh, tricky distinction that) or Twisted if I wanted a more overtly counter-cultural look. So I’ve completed my most pressing work duties, dusted off my master card and I’m off to Bryggen.
[Update: Got a lovely brown linen dress by NygÂrdsanna at KlÊr. I love it.)