I find myself at the Tory party conference, which is very similar to a business conference except they know the business is bust and the man who runs the defence department has given all the revenue to his mates.
This is my ongoing story, told through tweets, of a wishy-lefty washy running a bookshop at a right-wing event. Surrounded, incidentally, by the Boris 'brand' everywhere. Click to read part one. This is part two. Stay tuned for part three.
"Another day of Tories. Yesterday can be summarised as a bunch of people in suits and bad hair that don't know please, thanks or excuse me. The founder of MORI delighted me with stories. And we had a 'gay Tory' event (no, really). One woman bought Mandelson's book because she wanted to 'understand evil'. She was in every way a spitting image of Margaret Thatcher."
"I have five book signings today at the conference, including the aforesaid Jeremy Paxman (who is actually lovely)."With a busy day ahead, I was feeling quite confident. A bit like a Christian looking at a photograph of a kitten in the Colosseum and thinking, "oh THAT'S a lion."
In fact, let's stick with animal analogies, shall we?
"Everyone's much nicer today at the Tories. Yesterday was like wading through dead puppies. Well. I say everyone. Some people are nicer. Mainly the dead puppies because they're not being waded through any more. WHAT AM I SAYING? My brain's turning to Tory mush..."
"It's Bring Your Pet To Conference Day today at the Tory conference. A surprising number of blue animals. Like... um.... blue whales 'n' shit.
"Hey, stop tweeting me #dogfacts. I hate dogs. If I have to think about them *and* Tories, I may cry. I am having my lunch. The conference is affecting me. I have a headache and a growing dislike of minorities. (By 'minorities', I mean 'Tories in Manchester', obvs.)"It was a slow start to the day, hence...
"I'VE JUST SEEN A TORY DWARF."...and...
"I am doing a poo at the Tory Conference. The first plop came out in the shape of Ann Widdecombe. Ooo, here's a second one. Jeffrey Archer. ...Vince Cable?! I have just laid a cable. A vince cable."..and...
"Eek, David Davis is talking about lotion."...and...
"Sorry I'm not replying to many tweets. I'm writing love poetry to David Cameron. What rhymes with 'nuzzle'?"Muzzle, obviously.
My colleagues who had run set-up had nestled some Tony Benn books on the shelf, which by good fortune was in the exact place where cameras would film the book signings. And believe me, there were cameras everywhere. Events like this, whatever the party, is as much about media image as it is about motivating your troops.
I couldn't move without finding myself in someone's shot:
"I got stopped coming into the Tory conference for carrying coins. Of course I'm carrying coins. I'm selling books. Other items possibly considered dangerous at the Tory conference: clothes, hands, air."
"Oh crap, a TV camera has just filmed me. I'm sorry I said bad things about clothes and hands and air."I even received tweets about being on the telly: "You're on the telly. And you're selling a book. Money has changed hands. Congratulations."
"The Graun have just interviewed me, wanting to know the successes (Kwasi Kwarteng) and turkeys (Assange). Oh dear."In fact, some Tories couldn't cope with Kwasi Kwarteng. They don't like foreigners, you see. And Kwarteng is very foreign, being an Etonian, a Surrey MP and, oh hold on...
"Crikes. "Have you got that book by the man with a Korean name. Totally unpronounceable." That'll be Kwasi Kwarteng, then. So sheltered. This conference is one big head stuck in a big cloud."Korea. West Africa. Eton. It's all the same. Bless.
Anyhoo, we did a signing with various MPs, including Kwasi (who I'm pretty sure is responsible for spilling coffee over one of my books, harrumph). The highlight, however, had to be Sir Paxman Of Newsnight who I had persuaded to do a last-minute book signing.
Boy, he was hard work. He withers in his spare time and, while always witty, personable and intelligent (I'd do another signing with him tomorrow if given the chance), his batteries still fire away when the rest of us have ground to a halt. His banter with the book-buying public was priceless.
"My book is so good, you should buy ten copies: some for your family and five or six for you. In fact, let's make it 15."We ran out of books (understandable considering the signing wasn't planned) and so we had a little argument about that because Paxman was unhappy.
"I have one leg shorter than the other by about an inch and a half."
"You want to go to Newcastle and be hung upside down? Yes, brilliant idea."
"Are you going to tell me what underwear you're wearing?"
"The quotes earlier today were from the university challenged Sir Jezbo of Paxmania, all taken out of context from his book signing."
So I leave Part Two of this series with a couple of final tweets from the day.
Still to come is my attendance at an alarming fringe event and, as promised on my previous post, a truly scatalogical moment which represents more about the Tory party than even its critics would be prepared to accept. No, me having a poo further up this post wasn't it.
Oh and I must tell you how the Theresa May cat moment increased our sales.
"I managed to rile Jeremy Paxman today. I accept full responsibility if he's being more withering than normal with Boris on Newsnight!"
"My bookshop was on Newsnight, apparently. Hopefully it wasn't the bit when I was playing Twister with Michael Gove. (He has warm thighs.)"
Click to read part one. This is part two. Stay tuned for part three.