Thursday, January 25, 2007
The World Economic Forum - now running in Davos - always gives me a pang of nostalgia. For two years in the nineties, I was a fellow of the WEF, which meant I was one of the invited speakers. I have since been dropped, probably because I spent my time telling everybody they were wrong about everything, as, indeed, they were. It was a riot. The show is run by Klaus Schwab - with the sole aim, his staff bitched, of getting the Nobel Peace Prize - and, when I met him for the first time, he said, 'Nice to meet you again.' I realised this was because he assumed, reasonably enough, that he had, in fact, met everybody in the world at least once. On one occasion Bill Clinton addressed us via a big video screen and Klaus's introduction was so fulsome that Big Bill actually cracked up with laughter. Then there was Richard Dawkins storming out of a dinner because a soul band - superb, nothing but the best at Davos - started playing. He was ushered sheepishly back in by a nice, nursey sort of lady. Then there was the time I addressed the Media Group - all the big bosses. It was snowing heavily when I left this meeting. Two figures were standing outside the hotel and they summoned me over. One was David Montgomery and the other was Conrad Black. We chatted about what I had said and then, suddenly, Black said apropos of nothing, 'Isn't it wonderful how well the French speak French?' He expanded on this theme for fifteen minutes to our utter bafflement. By the time I finished, all three of us were covered by an inch or so of snow. I made my excuses and left. Good, though disturbing, times.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:15 am