Despite phoning a taxi 3 times it did not arrive. Finally manage to flag down taxi in 'oh god I'm late for the meeting' panic. Taxi driver helps load scooter and off we go. Taxi driver gets stopped by the police.
Finally arrive late at conference to see huge mass of protesters and queue to get through security. Whimper pathetically about having to scoot through such a crowd at waist height. Decide only way to ask nice policemen to help. Fortunately nice policemen decide to escort me through security while I whimpered some more about the crowd. G4S appeared slightly non plussed by my appearing with a police escort who politely requested they look after me but me & the pink pliers made it through intact. Just.
The best random conference meetings always happen by chatting to random smokers. Had a good chat with nice chap from the big Christian media company in the UK. Compared notes - neither of us could remember the bit in the bible where Jesus urged blaming the poor for everything. Nice Christian smoking man went off looking very troubled.
More smoking with lovely lady who turned out to be Jake Berry MP's assistant. Lovely lady sorted us a quick chat with Jake about disability stuff and housing. Had a moan about the shortfall between Local Housing Allowance and actual rent. Concerned MP said 'but you should be getting a DHP, they're for people like you'. Pointed out applying for DHP's utterly degrading and short term. No answer to that beyond 'oh dear'.
Met very jolly posh Tory, just out of schoolboy who explained to us his role was to be able to talk to 'normal' people. What a poppet. Still being drunk at 11am probs a good start with the 'normals' but more likely to find those on a bus than inside secure zone. He'll probly be PM in 20 years.
Went back to try and find Conservative Disability Group man. Jacket in evidence, no sign of man but nice Conservative Friends of Sri Lanka man came over to chat. Went back to see Conservative Friends of Azherbijan. Got invited to very posh, very past bedtime party. They remembered me from last year so filled a bag with goodies for BendyNiece.
Got invited to unlisted fringe - George Osborne in conversation with Gary Gibbons. Quite interesting really and fortunately my jaw was glued together with the sweets the Wheelchair Evacuator people gave me so I couldn't make inappropriate comments. Fringe ended, scrum of people headed to try and meet the Chancellor. Took the 'sod it, they can only say no' option that has served all campaigners so well and headed into scrum. On scooter. At crotch height. Ick.
After being pushed in front of by another queuer I was rather surprised when the Chancellor looked over and made eye contact with me saying 'I've seen you, stay there, don't move I'll come over to you'. How can a man who's mother worked for amnesty and who can spot a distressed disabled behind a scrum of overexcited Tories not see what his government are doing to said disableds? These are the toughest moments at conference - how can these people who are so polite, so helpful and so friendly to our faces not understand what we're saying to them?
|Chancellor George Osborne stands and talks to Kaliya Franklin sitting on her scooter|
So, we shook hands and I asked if he could spare me some time to discuss welfare, disability and employment. The Chancellor said he would make time to meet and discuss it properly, so having had lots of photos taken his SpAd and I exchanged details and off we both went.
After that the plan was to go to head back to the JRF tent for a rest and then go to more fringes. The plan worked as far as the JRF tent and a lie down with a blankie. After about 10 minutes I realised if I didn't leave NOW I was going to throw up all over the JRF tent...which seemed no way to repay their hospitality.
Scooting and dizziness don't mix. Nice policemen will approach you to see if you're drunk. Slurred speech doesn't help this impression. Tears ensued. Finally managed to find a cab and get back to the hotel to become horizontal.
I wonder if I'll get that meeting the Chancellor promised...