Boring Conference 2014: Yawning? Well, you’re supposed to be

The annual conference celebrating life’s seemingly tedious things is in danger of becoming interesting

For a series of talks which is billed on celebrating the marginal and downright uninteresting, the fourth annual Boring Conference 2014 appears to be in danger of being quite successful.

The central London annual get-together has had to relocate to a larger venue because of its popularity. There’s even talk of taking it abroad. It’s had famous speakers – many widely considered to be really quite interesting such as the writer Jon Ronson and the documentary-maker Adam Curtice.

An excitable young man in a red hat barely manages to suppress his excitement at a line-up featuring eight hours of talks on subjects ranging from ice-cream vans to eggs.

A quick recap of previous years’ highlights is provided, such as a man who records precisely where, when and how many times he sneezes. Other topics have included seminars on yellow lines, domestic inkjet printers from 1999, sounds produced by vending machines and toast … the list goes on.

The Boring Conference’s founder, James Ward, 33, began after the rival Interesting Conference was forced to cancel at the last minute. Despite the irony exuding from the young comedy crowd that spent £20 to be there, Mr Ward proclaims he will convince us there “is beauty in these things”. 

The task given to those who had chosen to take the 10-minute challenge is to simply take a boring subject and make it interesting. Valerie Jamieson, a former particle physicist who is now features editor at New Scientist, examines those clichés considered the epitome of dullness, such as how dull is ditch water? And watching grass grow or paint dry? It turns out that all these things, when the science is offered, could be considered quite fascinating. That’s quite fascinating.

Mr Ward’s own topic is on the late 1980s and 90s game show You Bet! – which is taken from the German game show Wetten, dass...? The German version, he tells the audience, included features such as a blindfolded farmer who could tell one of his cows from another just by the way they chewed apples.

What, you may ask, is the point in all this? James Maidment, 36, from London, said: “Because of the internet, there is now a community for everyone with marginal interests out there. But it is also about making fun of that and being creative with it.”

It’s a fine line between being interesting and being, well, boring. One perplexing explanation about calendars by a Wolverhampton dentist produced a few yawns. But another tale from Ali Coote about the time she worked for a small ice-cream-van firm proved (quite) fascinating. I mean, who knew there are only 5,000 ice-cream vans in the UK?

Mr Ward says the conference wouldn’t have been possible without the internet. “It wouldn’t have existed if Twitter didn’t exist. I think it would have been very hard to find people without the internet or Twitter who had an interest in, say, eggs. Whereas now you just type #eggs and a conversation has started.”

If you got to the end of this, maybe Boring Conference 2015 is for you.

Boring facts

* Modern, state-of-the-art ice-cream vans can cost up to £70,000.

 

* Vetiver grass can grow up to four metres.

 

* Stay-green grass stays green, even throughout droughts.

 

* Paint continues to harden a week after it has dried.

 

* Ditch water is actually teeming with life called zooplankton.

 

* The translation of the title of the 1980 comedy film Airplane! in German is “The incredible journey on a crazy aeroplane”

* In 1991, the popular game show You Bet! hosted by Matthew Kelly was moved from Saturday nights to Friday nights. In 1994 it was moved back to Saturday nights.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Mechanic / Plant Fitter

£24000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Lancashire based engineeri...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders