Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Deputy Leader in Women's Toilets Shocker!

There's a great story doing the rounds at conference about women washing their hands after going to the toilet, then looking up in the mirror to see a giant-sized Adrian Ramsay beaming back at them. The backdrop featuring Adrian on the elections stall was somehow bizarrely being reflected into the toilet mirrors. The offending backdrop was promptly moved around to avoid unduly alarming any more female conference-goers.

This is the first post I've managed this conference, mostly because as I'm on conferences committee and have been involved in organising this year's event, I've spent a lot of the time running around like a headless chicken. My main responsibilities were stalls, evening entertainment, conference guide (though Natalie did most of the work there) and organising the volunteer rota. As a result I haven't taken part in as many sessions as usual, though I did manage to catch Caroline's speech, the panel discussion with Ken Livingstone, Jenny Jones and Darren Johnson, which was v entertaining, and the excellent Green New Deal discussion today, which others have already blogged about.

I'm not aware of any major disasters so far at conference, although there have been a few things that could have gone more smoothly. The first three hours of registration were a hectic nightmare, as there was no time for registration before the first workshops began, and people were already queuing to register when we arrived at the building and were trying to set up front of house etc. Things calmed down by mid-afternoon yesterday, but not quite the stress-free arrival many conference-goers may have hoped for.

There was also a slight breakdown in communication between myself and the producers of Age of Stupid which was due to be shown Saturday evening - I thought it was confirmed, they didn't, so when I rang just to make sure they were on their way at 7pm and they weren't, there were a few frantic minutes, but they rose to the occasion and got someone round in a taxi to the venue with the film, so we were able to show it, albeit a little later than planned and with an interruption for a fire alarm (it never rains . . . ). Anyway, it was an excellent film, and I'd highly recommend it. Loved the clips in it of Green Party placards at the climate change demos too!

There's been an awful lot of guestimating for conference committee to do this time and financial risk if we messed it up (that's probably always the case). How many sandwiches should we order (we would have had to pay for any spares, in the event we needed a few more), would the lecture hall be large enough to deal with the increased attendance (mostly yes, though about a dozen members couldn't get in for Caroline's speech), would conference-goers manage to drink the minimum £500 spend at the bar or would we have to make up the difference (an emphatic yes, they can drink that much no probs), would we get enough people attending to cover the additional cost of the venue (hopefully yes).

One of the things that I'm most pleased about and think was a success this time is the stall area. We've had more stalls than ever before, with a wider range of organisations represented, than ever before.

I would appreciate feedback on the conference as I'm sure would the next conference committee - Scott has mentioned not liking the hall layout - we've had a mix of responses to it, probably slightly more than half positive. Personally I think I prefer it to the bingo hall layout - more focussed and less shuffling around. And yes, sorry about the sandwiches, but we do have Planet Organic and a number of other places near the venue, including a reasonable cafe in Russell Square, so do explore the surrounding area if you don't manage to beat the sandwich rush tomorrow.

And the beaming Adrian in the ladies loos? Conference committee would like to reassure conference-goers that this was purely accidental, at not a planned attempt at building any deputy-leader cult of personality!


Green Gordon said...

I'm sad to miss it, as this is my stomping ground, but thanks for the hard work. It's important to me, even though I'm not experiencing it first hand.

scott redding said...

I agree -- the range of stalls at this conference has been very impressive.

Jim Jay said...

you did a great job Sue - and congratulations on being elected sole dictator of Conference arrangements from now on

Natalie Bennett said...

Yes, great job Sue - and you managed to never look "headless chicken" - if occasionally "very busy woman"!