I have had many novel experiences in my time at Durham County Council but I’ve never met a Minister of State. Well, not knowingly. I’ve met many politicians, MPs, MEPs and even a Lord. I bought him a drink or two and we became drunk as Lords as the saying goes. I’ve even given a presentation at the House of Lords but never met a Minister.
But this week that all changed when Ed Vaisey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, came up to hear about how we are getting on with our Digital Durham programme.
The plan was that he would sandwich us between a visit to Auckland Castle and the Lindisfarne Gospels at Durham Cathedral. Everything was arranged. A room was booked, speakers corralled and a willing audience lined up. I wrote some speeches, another first for me and we laid on some hot food to make sure he turned up.
It was all due to happen on the Tuesday but on Monday morning we got a call. Tuesday night was off and instead he would be visiting the coming evening. A few expletives were heard around the office as this was going to have been a great opportunity to show how far we’ve come with the programme and to have a quiet word in his ear about some of the things that haven’t gone so well.
After a quick think we pulled ourselves together, cancelled everything arranged for Tuesday and hurriedly sorted a small gathering for that evening. When he arrived we had a round table event that was much less formal and more informative than the original event could have been. The food was cold though.
So what could have been a disaster and a wasted opportunity was turned round into a productive successful event and I suppose this is a lesson in the way life is. Stuff happens, deal with it.