I have received the very great honour of giving this year's annual Tommy Steele Memorial Lecture at the London Palladium. Tommy's influence on the use of umbrellas in musical theatre is well established of course and I can think of no greater testament to the work of BUBB in the last few years than to be presented with this chance.
My theme will be on whether global warming presents a threat or an opportunity to umbrellas. I decide to head to Blacbury on Friday and thrash out a few ideas over lunch in a local hostelry with my brilliant policy honcho, Geof Sachell (Oxford, naturally). It will also provide an opportunity for us to work on the informal paper I am writing for James on the role of umbrellas in public sector contracts. James hasn't actually asked me to do this but I thought I'd stick some thoughts down, turn up at his house and make him read it at umbrella point, restraining order or no restraining order.
Geof and I meet up and have a cheeky merlot in the Pipe and Slippers. And then the Tut and Shrug, the Well Red Lion, the Bull and Shite and finally the Paid Volunteer. By which time of course we are completely clattered, and my 18 pages of notes are largely illegible.
However, the next day I nurse my headache with a spot of light gardening - dusting the jasmine, polishing the privets - and manage to dredge back the main points from the sozzled pool of memory.
The global warming argument is a tricky one. My initial view on this was that climate change would be great for umbrellas if it brought wetter weather. Boomtime in brollyland so rev up those gas guzzlers, spew out as much carbon as you can and make like Clarkson.
On the other hand, if the extreme weather is as bad as some of the boffins claim, it could be dangerous for umbrellas. So I am faced with deciding whether ultimately it is in the best long term interests of my members that we destroy the planet or save it. Which could make the lecture an interesting one as I will probably end up having an argument with myself.