I avoided the Society of Editors’ Grand Gala Dinner by going home. (I had work to do.) But the conscientious Roy Greenslade went — and later wondered why. Here is an excerpt from his report:
It is always difficult to grasp quite what these annual dinners are about, but last year’s in Windermere was relieved by an entertaining speech from Melvyn Bragg. I also remember that there were mercifully short speeches of welcome. Oh, how we ached for Melvyn during last night’s dreary non-event.
The Lord Provost of Glasgow, Liz Cameron, spoke well enough but for so long we were in danger of fainting from hunger because the woman just didn’t know when to stop. I think we got the message. Glasgow has changed and is changing… our newspapers – The Herald and the Evening Times are terrific… this art gallery is a palace of dreams. Indeed it was for the several sensible people who had fallen asleep.
A speech by the Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell, was so insufferably stilted and stuffy that we wondered how he had ever got elected. (In the cab later a Scottish delegate explained in his defence that he was great behind the scenes. Fine. Let him stay there then). But McConnell was a mere warm-up act for the most stunningly dull “address” I can recall.
Sebastian Coe, chairman of the 2012 Olympics organisation, spoke without imparting a single intelligent thought. I tried to take notes but he said nothing of any consequence whatsoever, and he said it several times over. It was unrelieved by wit or wisdom and was heard in total silence by a now disbelieving crowd…