One more bore, and then I will find another topic.
This time, I am the bore. I cannot really claim to be a top rank bore because I don’t have the necessary determination: of course, like most people, I am sometimes very boring, but usually I become aware of the symptoms in my victims – the glazed eyes, the drumming fingers – and drop the subject or cut the anecdote short. But there was a period in my life when inspiring boredom was a useful skill.
I was working for an international sports federation which had Biennial General Meetings; these took place every two years, as is so often the case with BGMs, and were usually held in some remote and unglamorous spot – Pyongyang, it might be, or Novi Sad, or Birmingham. Delegates from a hundred or more countries attended and simultaneous translation in six or more languages was provided. Politics played a major part in our deliberations; I have pointed out elsewhere why this is just as likely with sports federations as with other international bodies.
It sometimes happened, therefore, that a crisis would arise which, if not dealt with skilfully, might cause a breakdown. Perhaps one delegation had suffered a real or imaginary slight: sides would be taken, the Soviet bloc would be angrily whispering among themselves, there would be an inflammatory speech from a Chinese delegate and a possibility that a least one of the two Koreas or one of the two Germanys, or all four, would walk out in a huff.
Sometimes in such a situation the Chairman would give me my cue by saying something like, "I think the Secretary-General has a point he’d like to make…”
I would put on my special boring secretarial spectacles (or, if I was already wearing them, take them off) and start droning away in my special boring secretarial voice. Almost immediately, the tension would ease; delegates would start pouring themselves glasses of water, looking through their documents to see what time lunch was, or just sitting back and thinking about their plans for the evening.
It would not be many minutes before the Chairman could interrupt me and say “Thank you. Let’s press on, shall we? Number Fourteen on your agenda….” and it would be a very determined delegate who could remember what the row had been about and insist on re-starting it.
The Great Hall of the People, outside.....
... the BGM inside.....
...me on the extreme right, about to be very boring indeed.