Got back from Blackpool last night, Conservative Party conference having finished three very tiring weeks of conferences - all of which had their own enjoyable moments inbetween the work.
It was my first Tory conference and it was noticeably very different from Labour and Tory as soon as you walked around the exhibition area. Yes, there were many stands that you could see at any of the three - but I'm fairly sure, as just one example, that the British Fur Trade Association only have a stall at the Tories (fur is the 'natural, responsible choice', apparently).
There were celebrities, of sorts, all over the place. Boris Johnson was having difficulty trying to turn his photo pass the right way around to get through security behind me on the first day, William Hague was happy to be signing copies of his book at the Politicos stall and Edwina Currie chaired one of the fringe meetings I'd organised. But the biggest celebrity was Tony Hadley (ask your older sister, kids) who was staying in the same hotel as us and seemed to be there all week.
The photos are just a general shot of the Winter Gardens, relatively buzzing with meetings and interviews, and part of the panel for the Health Hotel Question Time on Tuesday night - just included as on the far right (seating wise) is blogger Iain Dale who gave an accomplished performance.
As with the other conferences, my time in the hall listening to any debates was very limited - in the Empress Ballroom (where I once played the cello as a nipper) I just went in for about 5 minutes of a speech by Ken Clarke, which didn't exactly get my pulse racing. But I have been assured that it picked up after I left. I watched the first half of David Cameron's speech on tv, which was fine but didn't say anything to me and, sad to admit, have seen a couple of others on the Parliament Channel since I got back. Iain Duncan Smith, who was actually really quite good, and Chris Grayling, who really wasn't - although I have always thought of him as fairly good.
The funniest conversation I had was with a guy who turned out to be a delegate from Kingston & Surbiton. Had I been feeling more tactful, I might not have mentioned that I used to work for Ed Davey, Lib Dem MP for said constituency. I got a bit of an earful which would have made most Tories blush, but (while he didn't exactly come around to thinking Ed is great) he did mellow from four letter words to Ed being 'alright' after a couple of minutes.