It has been a pleasant few days in San Diego. The sun has warmed me, even if the breeze wicked away any feeling of heat. The ocean on one side and the mountains on the other, the blues and greens, made for a pleasant contrast. The conversation was stimulating and educational.

So educational, in fact, that it rather brought home a point best articulated by an old school history master of mine. One does not know the extent of one’s own ignorance. Such a blissful lack of self-awareness was denied me by the last few days. What was said was fascinating, but I had to concentrate, and even then there were parts I could not follow. The overall conclusions, yes: these were transparent, perhaps even obvious. The theorising was in large part understandable. But the technical details? Or even the precise historical, biographical, political and cultural details? Of these there were some that I did not capture.

So perhaps my knowledge and scholarship need building on. I can counsel my ego that everyone’s does. There is no one who cannot or should not learn more. But then waiting for me on my telephone at the end of the day were a few brief messages. I would like to say that the tone of brief, terse, text messages is easily misconstrued. I know this is true. But even so.

Piled upon the feeling that I could be better in my field is the wince-inducing suggestion that I could be a better man.