When I left off, Joel and I were trying to squeeze into our suits while writhing around in digestive agony on our “bed”. As mentioned in the previous dispatch, we’d made the foolish but inevitable decision to eat $600 worth of dumplings the night before.
Outside ‘Smacky Glam’ – a misinterpretation of heroin chic?
Taking a walk the morning after. See here the grim determination required to push through the low aerobic limits caused by equal parts pollution and 4,000 dumplings.
Said hotel was a self-described “quasi 3-star business accommodation” and the bed was what I imagine a medieval palliasse to have been like. Or, if you can’t be bothered thinking back quite that far, have you ever read one of those autobiographical novels about childhoods of extreme privation, usually set in England or Ireland, how they sleep on beds made out of an old door resting on four piles of bricks, with overcoats for blankets? Well that’s about how comfortable this “bed” was.
We were eventually successful in wearing clothes that didn’t have elastic waists. I was particularly worried about my perceived professionalism as it began to look as if I’ve have to turn up to the conference in my flowery nightie. (It’s okay to wear nightwear to the supermarket here. It’s not okay to wear it to high-level diplomatic parleys. APPARENTLY.) But eventually determination, and 20-denier stockings, won the day.
This job was definitely another one for the highlights reel. It was fascinating to hear the speakers, whose public views were reasonably familiar, speak much more candidly in the relative freedom of their political retirement. With no reference to his terms in office, and knowing precisely faic about modern Irish history, I will say Bertie Ahern delivered a very impressive speech. I begrudgingly report that John Howard was positively engaging in person. And Bill Clinton delivered an honest and illuminating keynote speech.
A Chinese stenographer was there, using the same set-up as I saw earlier in the year in the Hong Kong Arbitration Centre. She was providing live Chinese-character subtitles on the big screen.
There should be a whole bit here about the actual symposium, but I’m not allowed to talk about specific stuff. Which is disappointing because it was really insightful.
I guess I am allowed to talk a bit more about our prestigious accommodations. See here the grand reception, complete with fake plastic “books”:
And as a final controversial inclusion, here is a little Shanghaiese dude wearing the ubiquitous no-nappy free-whizzing split pants. In Australia I would have felt a definite twinge of awkwardness, perhaps even an aura of illegality, if my husband knelt down to take a picture of a little kid’s crack – but here, no-one cares. The mum was pretty proud and why wouldn’t she be. Who doesn’t love the little tacker with his bum hanging out. HO DAK YI!