Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Conference, Getting Home, Rubbish News and Great Sausages

We’re home from Conference, and utterly knackered, especially poor Richard who did the driving. Among the things we learned today: there’s apparently a standard point at which Liberal Democrat bladders hit the danger mark. At least, that’s what we assumed when we drove into a particular service station off the M3 and saw two prominent Lib Dem bloggers in front of us. And an MP to one side. And a member of party staff to the other. And some Liberal Youth in the café. And… You get the picture. It was like the conference reconvening to dash for the loos.

While driving back to London, we caught up with one of Big Finish’s intriguing Sapphire & Steel series, Perfect Day. Not bad, though not the best of them, but worth it for the eerie sense of people away at the sea, caught in a time bubble of 14th September where every day’s the same. Anyone would think we’d been caught in some time bubble by the sea for the last few days that blurred into each other and probably involved the 14th of September…

We’ve watched the news coverage of Nick’s excellent speech, with a microscope, then turned to watch some of the exquisite misery of Bleak House instead. Despite getting improbably teary-eyed for the Dedlocks, it was cheerier than watching the BBC pretend we didn’t exist or – in the case of PM – giving us a fraction the coverage of the dodgy pips this morning. I might write more about the speech when I’m more awake but, in short, it was brilliantly delivered and clearly addressed more to the country than the audience. That means that while I enjoyed the Andrex Puppy, for any ordinary voters lucky enough to have channel-hopped onto Nick by accident, his passion about helping his and other children will probably have won them over. Daft idea to robo-call a quarter of a million voters tonight, though. Even if it’s a good idea, which I find unlikely, why announce it today and dilute your rare – very rare, looking at the smidgeon of coverage – bite of publicity? Why not announce it and do it tomorrow, and get an extra day’s worth (for what that’s worth) rather than overwrite your speech news with ‘Clegg’s cold call cock-up’? Sigh.

Meanwhile, as I type Robert Peston is saying it’s good news that two big banks are amalgamating into an even bigger one. Brilliant, BBC Economics guru; because big banks are completely safe and, should they go under, in no way imperil the economy or suck up squillions in public money to keep them upright, which is what’s known as the discipline of the free market. Well done, Mr Peston, for taking that infallible lesson from this week in particular and the last year in general. Pillock. It would be madness, of course, to suggest that the solution might lie in lots of little banks that help the consumer with competition and are much more difficult for big-money privateers to circle like sharks, rather than dumping competition laws and rigging the system to create more gigantic targets with ‘kick me’ on their share prices.

Random observations from the week include the excellent pair of bloggers whom I now can’t think of as anything other than Jay and Silent Bob, so many lovely people being cheery, upbeat and huggy, and that the plush Bournemouth Conference Hotel we were staying in looked terribly posh in some bits, but in the strange extension perched on top where we were found, the floors were uneven – not inspiring confidence, though suggesting several houses taken over, knocked together and an extra floor stuck across the roofs – and the narrow, snaking yellow-wallpapered corridor looked like a set from a 1970s sit-com. Specially fond memories: the facecloths that kept mysteriously vanishing from our room when the hotel pixie cleaned it; the pricey but very tasty dinner last night; the hotel internet connection hosted in Germany that gave us Blogger and Google in Deutsch and wouldn’t let us listen to BBC7 on the iPlayer; the fabulous breakfasts that saw me given no knife three days running, raising the worry that Mr Brown might have intervened to prevent a surge of cutlery crime among Lib Dems or that they’d been stolen by members of his own party and were to be found in Mr Brown’s back. Still, I had a knife this morning, and to celebrate piled my plate with Legotastic construction skill in order to make full use of it. The Blessed Leader greeted me over the breakfast selection with “Blimey, have you got enough there? I’ve never seen that much on a plate.” Sorry, Nick, but while I may be several years and about as many stone past being a Liberal youth, old buffet habits die hard.

Besides, they were really good sausages.

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

…Which goes to show that sausages are more popular than speeches, taxes and analysis. Or, alternatively, that this was one of the top five links that Lib Dem Blogs Aggregated got stuck on for a week ;-)

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Buffets are awesome :D
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