Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Limping Into Tuesday

If you’re at Conference and see me looking more like a zombie than usual this morning, it’s not because too many people have been bending my ear about the tax debate (though a few did. I was called a “right-winger” in the bar at 2am). Despite a breakfast meeting with the inspiring folk of the BBC World Service raising my spirits, I’ve had three hours’ sleep and am in some pain. I woke at five with a very manly shriek of agony as my leg went into cramps, the muscles squirming like live snakes with no prompt from their owner. Richard was woken less by an alarm call than an alarming one; he got back to sleep, but I’m still hobbling. Test your luck, then, if you were woken in your hotel by piteous shrieks of agony at dawn. Perhaps you were right not to call the police after all.

What, you may ask, was I doing in the bar at two this morning if I was planning to visit the breakfast with the BBC World Service? Chatting with nice people before Richard signalled that he was about ready to drop, really, after staying up to make a somewhat abbreviated 1am appearance on Radio Five Live about blogging, with Simon Hughes and a man from the Mirror. Given that there is only one person in the party more likely to exceed his requested word count than me, I experienced little surprise when told by the Five Live team that I might not be on air for long because the programme was apparently running half an hour late while Simon interviewed himself.

A quick word, however, for the BBC World Service. Despite the Metropole’s breakfast being cool, congealed and much less exciting a selection that I’ve been enjoying for the rest of the week – so you needn’t view me as biased in their favour by the food – I’m thoroughly glad I took up their invitation. Regular readers will probably have spotted that I’m an ardent if not uncritical supporter of the Beeb, but even for the BBC, the World Service’s mission to bring impartial and informed news to the world is something that grabs my heartstrings. Speakers included the Director of the BBC World Service, Nigel Chapman, plus people from BBC World (commercially competing world TV news) and BBC Monitoring (watching what all the world’s other major news channels report), with news about the forthcoming Arabic TV service, blocking in China and Iran – the Chinese authorities describe it as a ‘technical problem’, but strange how targeted it is – and many other issues. Awwhh, bless them.

Shame that the BBC stand here doesn’t have any more of those cool Doctor Who postcards they were giving away last year, nor even Robin Hood… Some nice pictures of the Doctor and Bleak House up at the back, though.

Now, however, the tax debate has started next door; I really should get in there. I understand it’s going to be a quiet one, so I might catch up on some sleep.

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