24 September 2008

Less than Zero

Coming out of the railway station at Leeds, the first thing I saw was
the Queen's Hotel. I've been there twice in my life, possibly more, but
I particularly remember two occasions. The first, in the late 1970s, was
to a Conservative party meeting addressed by Enoch Powell. I drove two
fellow Young Conservatives to Leeds in my orange Citroen Dyane, and on
the outskirts one of my comrades, for reasons which may have made sense
at the time, changed into a three piece (ie jacket, trousers and cap)
Mao suit which he had brought back from one of the trips to China that
was an early sign of that country's opening up to the West. We rolled
back the roof on the car and he stood on the front passenger seat,
waving to anyone he saw and clapping in that strange way of the Chinese
leaders of the time seemed to to do. From memory, he changed out of the
suit before we went into the meeting.

I remember nothing of Enoch Powell's contribution to the evening, which
is probably just as well.

On the second occasion, I came to give a talk under the auspices of the
College of Law, on the subject of the reform of UK competition law. It
was a two-hander, possibly more, and Ray Snow was involved. Afterwards
he took me to a casino, where it was clear that he was a regular. This
struck me as an odd distinction for a man based some 250 miles away.
Ray taught me company law at Guildford, and for the first time in my
life I found myself having to work on my birthday (which had always
fallen in school holidays or university vacations). I reached the age
of 21 before I had to attend a class on my birthday, but on that
auspicious day I had Company Law. I was miles away in my own private
world when Ray took it into his head to ask me a question. Not only did
I not know the answer, I don't think I even understood the question.
Fortunately I have picked up a little company law since then.

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