Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

My Task, the Editors Said, Was to Find Local Color at Conference. but Yellow Was an Inauspicious Start

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

My Task, the Editors Said, Was to Find Local Color at Conference. but Yellow Was an Inauspicious Start

Article excerpt

This is, of course, a special conference edition of the New Statesman. But it didn't just get thrown together. Two months ago I attended a special planning meeting with the entire editorial staff and all the regular columnists (with the exception of Paul Barker, who was busy finding out what made Bromsgrove tick). We were there with one purpose: to create an edition which would provide an insider's view of the conference for the delegates and give a flavour of the event to those regular readers who desperately wished they could be there.

Nobody got to my brief until the end of the meeting, but then there was a very firm proposal from a rather ferocious woman on the editorial side of the table.

"What we want from you, Laurie," she said, "is local colour. A few out-of-the-way fringe meetings. Observations on clothes, food and drink. And, most of all, top-class gossip from within the Metropole."

It wasn't easy to pick "out-of-the-way" fringe meetings but I quickly selected "Towards a National Aviation Policy" at the Royal Albion Hotel. Hardly a subject which would have delegates queuing around the block. The handout said County Councillor Lyn Huggins would be in the chair and Councillor Roy Davies would be a key participant, but there was a rather ominous "invited" after the names of Glenda Jackson, Graham Stringer, and Transport 2000. What could be more "out of the way" than a meeting about the future of aviation for which the main participants hadn't yet bothered to accept their invitations?

Even more fun was promised by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society on Wednesday night, with the chance to spot any reluctance among participants to accept the offer of "free sandwiches". I decided to complete my portfolio with a visit to "Animal Defenders: Circus Madness", which would perhaps give me an opportunity to work up a little story about going to the refreshment table and asking for a plate of thin toast and just the merest smidgen of foie gras. …

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