Sunday, 15 March 2015

Soup, man flu & an evening in Liverpool

11 February 2015, 10.30 am

I am back at CIPA after my Soup Holiday.  At last I can be reunited with my secret friend the ceiling-mounted espionage system.  It gives me a look that I know means it has been missing me.  I think I am in love.

At a meeting of the Congress Steering Committee, I make some suggestions for panel discussions.  To which people say, no, don’t be silly; that would be boring and repetitive.  And I think, oh, perhaps I have been missing the point of Congress all along?

I leave the meeting in a huff and go to lunch with the folk who helped me with the EPO oral proceedings course.  It is a lunch to say thank you.  I give them autographed copies of my Not-so-secret Diary and a free glass of wine each.  And then I tell them about the work they will have to do for this year’s courses.

The food is very good but I can only eat the soupy bits.  Which means, essentially, the pudding and the wine.  It could be worse I suppose. 


11 February 2015, 2 pm

We hold one of our regular meetings with ITMA.  I have been led to believe that in the past, the two Institutes did not get on particularly well.  I also gather, however, that this was at a time when CIPA did not get on particularly well with anyone.  Things have changed since then.  CIPA realised that if you go round picking fights with people they stop inviting you to their parties, and since ITMA is renowned for its parties, it made sense to be friends again.

In the absence of the President, it is my job to chair this meeting.  I read out each of the agenda items in turn and ask the others what we are supposed to be doing about it.  Thankfully, the others are able to tell me, and so we progress rapidly through the agenda without any further action being required by me.

I am relieved the meeting progresses quickly, because Mr Davies has such bad man flu that he almost dies twice.  Also we have a train to catch to Liverpool. 


11 February 2015, 4 pm

On the Liverpool train, I have to sit next to Mr Davies and his man flu.  In between bouts of terminal dying, he tells me the background to yesterday’s ABS webcast.  Apparently it may have looked most professional from Zummerzet, but in reality it was mainly held together with gaffer tape and string.  By which I mean that Unlucky Gary and his CIPA colleagues spent the day buying cheap coffee tables and table cloths for the set; assembling the cheap coffee tables and ironing the cheap table cloths; and cutting up bits of wire and their connectors in order to make the electrons from the microphones communicate properly with the electrons from the internet.  Apparently electrons can be quite fussy about the types of connectors they’re prepared to go down. 

The final straw, I am told, was the giant gold heraldic CIPA crest.  Impressive as this Plaster of Paris monstrosity must have looked in its day, gracing the front of CIPA Hall, it now gets in the way of the screen, thereby casting an anatomically-evocative and most undignified shadow onto the freshly ironed table cloths that Unlucky Gary was so proud of.  The heraldic monstrosity I mean crest had to be removed for the afternoon, creating a heraldically monstrous storage problem in the back room.  Unfortunate. 


11 February 2015, 7 pm

Liverpool.  We while away an hour or so not finding somewhere to eat.  Our lack of success is only partly due to my inability to swallow anything that isn’t soup. 

For a start, our hotel restaurant is in darkness.  This is not a good sign.  The staff direct us to the bar instead, but the bar is only just not in darkness, and in any case its menu is limited to burgers and macho meaty things.  An Italian restaurant across the way looks promising to start with, but it soon becomes apparent that all we are allowed to do there is sit at a table and look at a menu.  Forgive me, but that is not a restaurant; that is a LIBRARY. 

We leave the library and head for what we think is a Mexican eatery.  It is not.  It serves burgers and macho meaty things.  Finally we end up in a tapas bar, where the lights are so low and the menus so Spanish that we could be eating anything, but at least we get offered a drink and at least some of the dingy Spanish things are soupy enough for me to eat.  In fact, they are really rather nice.  At this point I begin to quite like Liverpool, although quite liking somewhere because of its dingy and unpronounceable soupiness is not a massive compliment I concede.

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