Oh Lordy, botheration and bugger. I realise halfway through a presentation I am doing yesterday at a high powered conference on waterproofing technology that I have left my disguise in Blacbury. No, I haven't got another wild party at James' house this week, but it is the NCVO conference tomorrow.
Of course, most of what you read in the sector press, notably Brolly Weekly, about my so called rivalry with the NCVO and its chief executive, Hubert Carrington is exaggeration. Sure we have had our differences of opinion but tales of pistols at dawn in Brockwell Park are wide of the mark. (Try handbags, Kensington Gardens, just after lunch, and you're closer to the truth!).
To reiterate my position, I have no problem with the National Canopy and Visor Organisation per se, but I do feel very strongly that they shouldn't presume to speak on behalf of umbrellas without consulting me. NCVO's remit extends to all shielding protection, portable or otherwise and with such a brief it cannot possibly hope to give umbrellas the attention and advocacy they deserve.
Generally speaking my track record at working with other representative bodies is very good. As well as old Hubert at NCVO, I have strong relations with Steve Crikey at the Canopy Finance Directors' Group and Darcy Maxwell at the Institute of Gampraising. Over the last year we have all done a tremendous amount of collective whinging on Umbrella Gift Aid, a scheme whereby the government gives tax relief on the purchase of umbrellas as presents.
Even so, however, after an ugly scene over the vegetarian sandwiches at the NCVO conference a few years ago, I always feel I can get more out of the day if I go in disguise and I had found the perfect costume in one of Blacbury's fine boutiques over the weekend. But I haven't got time to go and get it before tomorrow, so I will just have to wear my Ed Miliband mask. Again.