Got home at 5pm Sunday but was in bed and asleep soon after 9pm.Maybe my ADM is a-typical but it seemed to run at a fair pace, hence the Grand National steeplechase script to end the cabaret (printed at the end).
I arrived on Wednesday but shot off to meet Paul who was running this blog for the New Media Industrial Council. As chair of ProfCom (the NUJ’s Professional Training Committee) I was involved in introducing the students to Paul.
After a shower and getting changed I met with Caroline Holmes, the excellent trade union trainer to finalise the course content for the student conference. We have worked together before but never as efficiently. We drafted a really useful model agreement between us that student chapels will be able to use to negotiate over how independent student media is from the local student union and how disagreements can be resolved. Was finally free from responsibility about 7.30pm.
Thursday was the student conference all day and I was in the chair for all of it. These are bright buttons who keep you on your toes – I had to trawl rule books and speak to past motions proposers to answer their questions about why student membership excluded certain rights.Friday to Sunday I was a delegate from London Magazine Branch. I proposed three or four of our motions and spoke on a couple of others – with varying degrees of success but more successfully than in many years, when I am often the kiss of death to otherwise supportable motions.
But I was also chief scrutineer. This meant organising the nine other scrutineers to count any close votes, but it also meant counting all the ballots – and the sign of a strong and confident unions is that so many more than usual were heavily contested so needed counting.On top of that the traditional Saturday night cabaret fell to me.
Both the chief scrute job and cabaret compere role fell to me just becoming an FoC – the person doing it for years realises somebody else is now experienced enough to take over, so disappears off the scenes sharpish. The result was that Saturday evening, after conference closed at 6.30 we counted the votes until nearly 8pm (one recounted three times due to the one vote difference between elected and not elected. Then I finalised the cabaret and running order. I’d managed to write two scripts but planned actors got nervous about offending the president and pulled out at the last minute and I suddenly found out about an extra script I had no prior knowledge of.
Still we get away with it. And only after that and the raffle (oh yes I chair NUJ Extra so I have to host the raffle too) do I get to relax. It was four in the morning when I finally decided to hit the sack.
Sunday, I walked in to the conference hall just after 9 to discover the branch delegate who was supposed to be proposing out motion on the NCTJ was sleeping off her even more excessive night. I bundled up and waved my finger about, regurgitated an old anarchist joke about hierarchy being like shelves – the higher up the less use – and won over the tiny number of delegates there at that time.
I had come by motorbike so I had the joys of the M1 home. Mind you, my bike had stood outside the hotel for four days and was filthy – it never gets that dirty in London. Birmingham must be one hell of a dirty city.
It all seemed like a mad rush. Perhaps ADM will need to go back to being longer if the order papers continue to be like this?
That final script in full:
And they’re off.
The president has opened the centenary NUJ ADM. The first hurdle is a speech from the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and already a few delegates have fallen – asleep. SOC jockey Pauline Norris has launched order paper one and they’re over the SOC rules and onto the first speeches. The president is the front runner but coming up on the inside is general secretary Jeremy Dear and then the fate of motions annual report section causes problems. And they are over motion one, motion two, motion three – wait there has been a refusal to pay £3.45 for a pint of beer.
And it’s over to John Lister for order paper two. With a 45 minute lead, delegates rattled through the motions and The Equality order paper, with its Irish Trainer Pat Healy, moved up from its usual position on the back straight of conference to lead by a head. And delegates galloped through the fences.
The pace slowed through the international section as a rider from Columbia strayed on to the track but then speeded up when Tony Benn took the lead. Late entry, copyright, ridden by the heaviest rookie Jockey ever to wear the SOC colours, Rory MacLoud, moved up from fifteenth position to sixth. And order paper six, which nobody expected to be in the race, moved the front to take us through to the second lap.
And with all the runners and riders still in the running Finance, whipped by former jockey Charles Harkness, saw the finance department cash in its winnings with a super Euro subs hike. Owner Anita Halpin, used to winning large sums, was smiling in the winners’ enclosure. But then the going got soft with order paper eight Organisation One failing to finish when Clerk of the course Jeremy Dear, announced a late entry of John MacDonnell MP. There were a number of fallers. Snappers Organiser fell, health and safety organiser fell, and the course was briefly evacuated on the instructions of The Don, over a slice of burnt toast in the hospitality suite.
A welcomed extra runner on Alan Johnston was cheered by the crowd. Then Order paper nine, handicapped by six composites and seven late notice motions, slowed the pace, before order paper ten fell just short of the finishing line.
Finally, on order paper 11, race-goers saw an unprecedented event in the history of the NUJ – SOC allowed a motion that had been ruled out of order to remain on the order paper. At that point this commentator fell off his chair.