Panic call from Rick Nebulus, head of IT adventures at Slurry County Council, who is trying to organise the next Association of Local Information Consultants (Asslic) branch meeting.
The North Midland West Central branch of Asslic has held regular meetings for years. Basically, they are a chance to network, ie meet your peers and misrepresent to them on how well your latest project is going.
For the sake of form, however, we generally have a couple of speakers. One of these is the sponsor, who pays for the venue/lunch in return for a presentation slot. The sponsor is invited to speak first, which allows those in the know an extra hour in bed, making sure they arrive late and so miss the sales pitch.
Anyway, the problem is the other speaker. We have had everyone. Every guru, consultant, specialist and researcher has already been to talk to us. There is no one left to ask. Rick wanted to know if I might not use my contacts in government to get us a high-profile speaker. Flattered, I agreed to try at least.
My contacts in government are so good that I know that the Cabinet Office publishes its phone numbers on a website somewhere. After only an hour and a half’s browsing I find what I am looking for and pass the numbers to Mavis to start dialling. I am hoping to get one of Sir I Wantmore’s small team of local government IT advisers – aka Jonah Blunder and Niggle Pomegranate.
We are waiting for the government to phone us back. I e-mail Rick with a no progress report to find that he has already sent out notification of the meeting with a “senior government spokesman” in the frame.
Strange e-mail from the Cabinet Office asking about security at the Asslic venue and stating a lot of requirements concerning lighting and press rooms for the photo opportunity. Jonah and Niggle must be more important that I thought.
An ashen-faced Mavis came in to the office clutching a letter that had just been delivered by courier. The letter was signed by something called a permanent secretary and after the initial pleasantries went on to say that owing to the cancellation of the NHS IT Success Story Reception, the prime minister, Trendy Blur, is able to accept your kind invitation to address the Asslic conference next week…