What happened today

So today I had to blow up a secret drug-smuggling factory in China, and escape on a stolen MIG fighter…

No, sorry, , it wasn’t quite like that.

Today I started with breakfast with the Europe Minister of one of the more significant EU member states, in company with my boss and with the former European Commissioner Chris Patten, now Lord Patten of Barnes. Patten and I both arrived about half an hour early. I asked him where he had come from this morning. He replied, “Barnes”. I though to myself, well, he is Lord Patten of Barnes, not so very surprising. But I lacked one crucial piece of information, so I asked him “Where is Barnes?”. He told me. I felt embarrassed.

Though I felt strangely vindicated when we tried to register with the receptionist who mis-heard his name – “I’m sorry, sir, was that P-A-C-K…” “No, P-A-T-T-E-N. Lord Patten.” Even more embarrassing was when it turned out I had been to the ministry sufficiently often that they still had my details on file and didn’t need to ask any such embarrassing questions.

We went on to do a public presentation of our Kosovo report at one of the local international relations thinktanks. Amusingly, a journalist in the audience was someone I had known at university as a political enemy. He asked a question about the elections for the joint parliament of Serbia and Montnenegro. I was able to reply, “Well, you and I and elections go back a long way – in fact I was once returning officer in an election that you won by five votes….”

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