What a superb city is Norwich. I'm only sad that the latest gig on my Big Arse tour was in Ipswich. Ipswich is the home town of my director of strategy, Fab Jobsworth, who reminds me that he has been working for BUBB for four years now to which I reply that he will be stuck here for at least another four thanks to the photos I have of him.
But onto the gig. I took a chair with me and we had a superb sing-song. The mood at all of the gigs has been positive which is in stark contrast to the negative rhetoric about the umbrella sector that you see perpetrated by the likes of, err, BUBB.
Bu being in Suffolk meant that my deputy Hector Rule got to go to Number 10. Who says I don't take any notice of restraining orders and decrees from the PM banning me from his house?
He was chairing a meeting of the Better Berating, Bollocking and Baiting Banking Coalition with assorted bigwigs. Two hours of non-stop whinging and intense hand-wringing was apparently very productive. According to Hector, anyway, and I fully look forward to claiming all of the credit when the banking system is overhauled to put customers before profit.
I have been sitting in the Progressively Dull Conference in Westminster today, entitled "Feathering Our Nests after the Crisis". Actually even less interesting than it sounds, but then when you have the Prime Ministers of Spain, Greece, Norway and the UK it would be. Organised under the auspices of the Lord of Darkness Peter Mandelson who seems to command all he sees these days. He's come a long way since those days when I sat on the floor at his holiday home by the banks of the Styx drinking coffee and talking about the old boy networks we'd establish to guide our careers to the House of Lords (him not me....yet) despite high profile gaffes and scandal.
These conferences take place annually and I have been at the last three. The content of discussion and debate is incredibly high and the networking tends to be rather good too which is after all the entire point.
Gordon (Brownnose alert) gave a really very engaging speech despite that rather gloomy external image and he came across in a warm and welcoming way. You could see the conviction in what he was saying and it's an image more people should see rather than the one of a stressed-out incompetent paranoid bully. This whole bullying story is a storm in a teacup hurled across the room at an unfortunate staff member. As the ill-qualified head of a bunch of idiots, desperately clinging onto power myself, I can empathise with Gordon. In such circumstances it would be a very poor leader indeed who didn't occasionally assert his authority by getting a bit tetchy. And violent.
And it has been most unedifying to see some of BUBB's members getting involved. Kirsten Aptlynamed from the National Brollying Helpline was quoted as saying that her organisation had received calls from staff at Number 10 complaining about Gordon's culture of fear - they weren't allowed to take umbrellas out with them when it was raining and he often threatened to hide their gamps if they didn't do what they were told, while threatening them with a great big golf umbrella of his own.
Other brollying organisations such as Brollying UK jumped all over NBH for this threatening them with all sorts including extreme irony. If these brollying bodies can't sort things out among themselves without resorting to bullying tactics then I will come down on them like a ton of bricks.
Brown rather aptly quoted Keynes in his speech by saying "there is no harm in being sometimes wrong - especially if one is promptly found out." A rather splendid thought for us as leaders of the umbrella sector.