Well what a complete and utter pile of shite that was. What a sorry charade. Six hours of bluster and rhetoric and saying how great the brolly sector is yet no concrete policies, only vague promises and soundbites and bullshit. I am of course talking about the BUBB Brolly Sector Tory Love-In Summit. The Tories had better get elected now to make the brown-nosing worthwhile. My nose was so far up the shadow cabinet's arse at times that you could see my nostril hair whenever one of them opened his (and it was always his) mouth to speak.
Things started badly when George Osborne was late. Actually, he wasn't late but as no one knew what he looked like he was left standing in the foyer looking sheepish. Apparently even his own mirror struggles to recognise him sometimes. A new film has just been released called the Osborne Identity where members of the electorate are asked to pick him out of a line-up. He craves a defining feature such as Alistair Darling's eyebrows.
And people kept spelling his surname wrong. As George puts it himself: "There is no u in Osborne, only me".
Osborne did speak well, to be fair. I laid down the BUBB challenge to the Tories - "more rain, more brollies, less wind" and he accepted it graciously. "From us you can expect promises for all the things you want to hear us promise." He also urged the brolly sector to "be professional and do things on the cheap while looking smart."
Great Aunt Maude followed him and spoke more waffle than the Bird's Eye potato department. And there was a succession of politicians within touching distance of power making promises emptier than Jordan's head. Their policies were so without substance that I have seen jelly houses built on epileptic quicksand that are more robust than the suggestions this lot trotted out.
"We need a procurement process to procure better procurement processes."
"We will stimulate social activity in depressed areas. We will make cider even cheaper."
"We will impose a top down approach to achieving a bottom upwards one."
"We will make up words such as upscale."
"We will encourage localism - ideas dreamt up over a few pints in the pub that seem great at the time but poor the next morning."
At one point I resorted to asking if anyone had any mephedrone to counteract the method drone we had heard all morning.
What did we learn at the end of the day? The brolly sector has lots of passion and great ideas (delegates knew that without having to pay for the privilege of being told it by people desperate for their vote), and the Tories are good at lip service but won't commit cash.
The only bit of interest came during the afternoon when apparently Osborne, who had skulked back to his anonymous office, was texting saucy pics of himself to the other shadow cabinet members along with a message "DO NOT promise any money or else I will send more of these".
At the end the feedback was positive. Indeed it was positively furious. I was surrounded by a crowd of baying delegates who felt cheated that there was no big announcement from George Osborne as advertised. To be fair we only promised this as a way of shifting more tickets.
People were also questioning their delegate fee going to fund a six hour showcase for the entire shadow cabinet. OK, there was no overtly party political stuff but when you are weeks from an election, how can anything the major politicians say not be viewed in that context to some degree?
Thankfully we seem to have got away with awkward questions in other areas. Such as the fact that I once again risked the blurring of my BUBB and Brolly Investment Business (BIB) roles by having BIB as a sponsor. People may query whether I should be using my influence at one organisation to help secure funding for a vanity project at another. That is, if any money actually changed hands. If BIB were merely listed as a sponsor to give them free publicity, that might also be misconstrued.
And hopefully no one will make any snide remarks about the fact that my vice-chair at BIB, Millicent Oddbin, is herself a prospective MP. And I bet you can guess for which party.
I have made a mental note to check the definition of "perception" and "conflict of interest". Just in case someone does end up putting two and two together. Because at the end of the day even if they make five the damage may well be done.