Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 12/11/2003There is a saying in Hollywood: what happens on location stays on location. This might sound like an excuse for mammoth misbehaviour among a high concentration of overpaid, oversexed, underemployed ego monsters -- but the same applies to IT journalists on foreign jaunts and they so rarely qualify on any of those counts.

Wednesday 12/11/2003
There is a saying in Hollywood: what happens on location stays on location. This might sound like an excuse for mammoth misbehaviour among a high concentration of overpaid, oversexed, underemployed ego monsters -- but the same applies to IT journalists on foreign jaunts and they so rarely qualify on any of those counts.

Take Microsoft's IT Forum in Copenhagen this week. Well attended by the Forth Estate, it started well when the company handed out tiny radio-controlled cars to the hacks as they checked in. It's a good plan, like giving the porter a huge tip when you first arrive at a hotel: they'll be on their best behaviour in the hopes of more. Shame MS then refused to hand out the batteries until after the keynote speeches -- perhaps it thought that the childlike journalists would be so absorbed playing with their toys they'd forget to turn up. Maybe it had terrifying visions of races and wheelies on stage behind the speaker. Whatever, there were sulks -- and perhaps the seeds were sown  for the reprehensible events of later.

I am still piecing together the details of one evening in particular, but I can report on the morning after. A large bunch of male UK scribblers were in transit across Copenhagen, led by an indomitable MS PR woman. As there were too many to fit in the one cab, they split up. Inevitably, contact was lost with the PR-less group -- who included in their number one of the old school, a bewhiskered chap with a penchant for Morris dancing. The other group, also fitted out with a beardy Morris dancer -- you can see why we have recruitment issues with the Nintendo Generation -- got worried.

"Has anyone got Beardy One's (*) mobile number?" asked Beardy Two (**). None of the assembled experts in technology and communication could help. "Oh, wait a second," said the PR. "I do. He proposed to me last night by text message."

There was some consternation, not least among those who knew Beardy One's existing domestic arrangements. Then calcified neurons began firing and cloudy memories slowly cleared. "Hold on," said another. "So did I."

"Yes," said the PR. "You all did. Simultaneously. Remember? Everyone did. Except you." At this, she gave Beardy Two an unfathomable look.

"But I did! I swear I did!" said Beardy Two.

He checked his phone.

"Ah." he said, after a pause. "Wrong number."

(* ) Peter Judge. Or Martin Banks.
(**) Martin Banks. Or Peter Judge.

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