certainly has been a hectic few weeks. It was a pleasant
surprise to be asked to join the delegation for the
recent talks to help salvage the Good Friday Agreement.
I would like to be able to say it was a positive experience
but sadly I have to report it was yet another episode
demonstrating British intransigence. Gaining any concessions
from them was like pulling teeth, the row over my
per diem was particularly distressing, and their insistence
that if I wanted to move out of the Europa I could
(and I quote) "pay for it yourself" was
demeaning. I prefer to draw a discreet veil over the
episode, but in case the securocrats are leaking,
I reiterate that I did not order those movies.
talks proper were not much easier, but I'm pleased
to say progress was made on which we can build when
we resume. For example, coffee will be served during
morning sessions, tea in the afternoons; and although
one so-called nationalist party was prepared to agree
to jaffa cakes, some of us are made of sterner stuff.
Beyond that it would probably be unwise to comment,
particularly on the disbandment speculation. Suffice
it to say we may be interested in a bulk purchase
of carriage clocks in the near future, and would ask
interested parties to send quotes to the usual address.
it's March, of course, it must be New York. To anyone
who hasn't experienced St. Patrick's Day in the US
I recommend it. The Ancient Order of Heterosexuals
pull out all the stops for a celebration that is as
Irish as the Saint himself. Much has been made of
the fact that Gerry Adams and George Bush will not
be shaking hands this year, but unfortunately as long
as doubts remain about their commitment to peace,
it would probably be inappropriate. There was some
talk that Gerry would stay home in the circumstances,
but he wouldn't miss it for the world. "Besides"
as he said to me while dropping Livingstone off at
the kennel, "where's the harm in leaving Brian
in charge of things for a few days?"
Grand Marshall (alternate) 2003
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