Welcome to my blog. I may write copy here that I would not present elsewhere. This blog allows me to comment while reporting for clients which can include subscription-only platforms. I use it to take a sideways look at running stories, and all views presented here are my own.

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Thursday, 30 July 2009

As Indian Cabinet Minister Speaks at CBI, One Audience Member Behaves Oafishly

We all have to sit through over - long speeches sometimes. In broadcast journalism, lengthy press conferences and hours and hours of interviews are our bread and butter. We have to develop patience and manners in order to arrive at our destination; the finished article or the finished programme.

I can't recall how many hours of unused material sit on my shelves and in my notebooks. Those who can deliver succint, pithy phrases at our request are few and far between. So we wait, and we suffer for our work.

Oftentimes, people bore us and we switch off. But we need to tolerate. I don't know why, but I am still astonished at boorish oafs of a certain age and from a certain class and background who betray a schoolboy mentality and gross lack of manners sometimes, in this green and pleasant land.

A glaring example remains from a recent high level conference in London. There, at the illustrious heaquarters of the Confederation of British Industry, I sat in the front row next to one Sir Thomas Harris, KBE CMG. He was sitting next to Richard Lambert, Director-General of the CBI.

On the panel in front of us, chaired by Lord Turner, was Anand Sharma, India's new Cabinet Minister for Commerce, fresh from a visit to Washington, in town to meet with Peter Mandelson and to give the keynote address at this conference called 'Managing Global Crisis.'

After Mr Sharma had got up to speak, Sir Thomas Harris began to shuffle around in his seat. As Mr Sharma continued, speaking thoughtfully and clearly, my neighbour said to me and also to Richard Lambert, 'Too slow!' meaning, presumably, that Mr Sharma, in Sir Thomas's opinion, was talking too slowly.

Sir Thomas then proceeded to sigh loudly, make faces and shuffle around some more, his gestures now being noticed by panel members who were giving him quizzical looks. Finally, he got out his shiny black briefcase, opened it and started rummaging around in it noisily as if he needed to be elsewhere.

I thought this behaviour the height of rudeness, especially so since Mr Sharma was a guest in Britain and the country is hoping to do a lot of business with India.

India is the second largest investor in Britain, with a recession-busting 44 per cent jump in the number of projects it has created since 2008. Indian investments have led to 4,139 new jobs since last year, contributing to a pool of nearly 8,000 British jobs.

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