Today is a bank holiday (even here in Scotland). I am sitting at home working. I have fallen so far behind that there is no alternative.

Part of the trouble is that, over the next few months, I am giving quite a lot of talks, and many of them are things I haven’t talked about in public before, and require quite a lot of preparation.

So this month I have a talk in London on “Combinatorial problems from transformation semigroups”; one at Leuven (to the Flanders Mathematical Olympiad prizewinners) on “Parties, permutations and diagrams”; and several at the How the light gets in festival at Hay-on-Wye, on infinity and on Gödel’s theorem. The talks for the first two are prepared but I am still struggling with the Hay talks. Public lectures require more preparation than just another conference talk!

Next month is even worse. I am talking about “Two-graphs revisited” in Villanova University, Philadelphia; about “Measuring triangle-free graphs” in St Petersburg (for Anatoly Vershik’s 80th birthday), and about “Endomorphisms and synchronization” in Waterloo (for Chris Godsil’s 65th birthday). I haven’t even finished the research for the first two of these, let alone prepared the talks! Today I have been frantically trying to book flights, ground transport, and accommodation, with only partial success.

However did Paul Erdős manage? He spent half his life simply travelling from one place to another. But I suppose he never gave a Beamer talk …

And somewhere during all this, I have to mark 300 exam scripts in London and another 8 in St Andrews, keep my Portuguese group theory course going, and all the other things that don’t let up during exam time. Please excuse me if my responses are a bit slow for a while.

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About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.

Peter, when will you be talking at Villanova?

Yes – and I hope I will have had time to finish proving the theorem by then, though it is looking increasingly unlikely š¦