This is going to be a hard week. Since so many people are over at Comdex, I've agreed to help put together the Client Section of IT Week. This involves organisation, timeliness and an amount of eyes-on-the-balliness that I'm not normally a natural for, so I'm worried. Copy doesn't come in, other stuff doesn't quite fit, and along the way I have to write stuff myself. Everyone else manages it, I tell myself, so I try and manage it too. Not too bad, Monday. But then there's three more days before everything's gone so I must be ultra-sensible and well-behaved. Nothing too extreme...
It's the start of the party season and following a hard day pushing news stories around, checking URLs, much chewing of lips (my own, alas) over what goes where and how much space to give it, I and many of my fellows depart to a club in Covent Garden to take part in Banner PR's Quiz Night.
The place is large and packed to the pavement with teams of IT journalists. I never realised there were quite so many of us -- and, terrifyingly, half of them appear to be up past their bedtime. Banner has arranged the quiz itself into five parts, each sponsored by a different client: I suspect this is the only way the gargantuan bar tab can be covered. For not only is this the first bash of Christmas '98, it seems as if everyone involved has been on a rigorous drying-out regime since January and is determined to make up for lost time.
Of the quiz itself, little need be said. It was a pub quiz rendered slightly swisher through PowerPoint and a projector, with video clips and the like. It started off sensibly, but by the end various forms of chaos had broken out and I can't say with any degree of accuracy who won. And would you have known the number on the side of Herbie in The Love Bug?
The highlight, of course, was the gossip. I've been out of the loop too long on this, but soon acquire a sufficiently large collection of snippets to trade. The evening ends well into the small hours of the next morning...
....and I wake up on a sofa somewhere near Marylebone High Street.
Tomorrow night, I promise myself as I weave a very fuzzy path down Oxford Street towards the tube, tomorrow night I will get to bed early and get a good eight hours kip. Nor is the damage limited to myself: it's probably most polite to describe the team spirit as 'subdued'.
Fortunately, today's tasks require little in the way of mentally-incisive reportage and technical awareness and much by way of editing, cutting, URL checking and the general machinery of putting the section together. But there's lots to do, and I end up wending an exceptionally weary way home at ten.
At half-past ten, the mobile rings. It's the Beeb, which has dragged my name up from its database of meeja-friendly techohacks. What do I think about this report of Intel's CEO saying that Dixons is poisoning the UK market through setting margins too high? I tell them what I think, and then I tell them what I think is broadcastable. Fine, they say. Can you make it in for Business Breakfast at 6:30 tomorrow morning?
Which means a 5am start. I briefly consider doing the sensible thing and telling them I'm half-dead through self-inflicted suffering, but my Media Tart persona kicks in and I find myself agreeing.
Home to bed and I set up three alarm calls. Star 55 star oh five oh oh hash... star 55 star oh five oh five hash... star 55...
... oh five one oh. Ugh. Not only is it five in the morning, not only have I got to get up, but I have to look at least reasonably smart. Radio is so much more civilised. The rest is a blur, until I find myself sitting next to an impossibly-awake presenter at 06:40, busy trying not to make too much by way of an idiot of myself. At least I can stumble back home and get a couple more hours zizz before work. Oh no I can't. They want to run another interview at 07:40. That one goes even worse... but perhaps an hour's kip? Nope, I'm then dragged upstairs to record the same thing again for some lunchtime program on BBC 2. By now, it's about half past eight and I can just about get into the office before everyone else (which is a good thing as I don't normally manage it and it's nice to see the looks of surprise on people's faces).
Since they then use the same interview on the six o'clock news on BBC1, this makes a grand total of four outings for Rupe TV -- my all-time record. Needless to say, by the end of the day I am worn out like a cloth. On no account should I go to the Harvard PR party with live musicians, magicians and a goodly gaggle of people....
...boy, that was silly of me!
But the work of the week is mostly done
At last! The man from Mastercare turns up, carrying network card, disk and cable. He's here to fix up a PC so it will work with DSL! Hurrah! I'll write up how that went next week, but it's been a remarkable experience with BT not telling any triallists what's actually going on and the triallists clubbing together to find out anyway. We're just about there now. As Michael Palin says, it's all jolly exciting.