Tuesday 9 December 2008

Milton , Cameron and dogs.

" The mind is it's own place, and in it self

can make a Heav'n of Hell , a Hell of Heav'n."

Paradise Lost

As it is the 400th Birthday of John Milton I was determined to quote him , and Paradise Lost is his masterpiece . But somehow it also seemed appropriate to the theme i used at the big Action Planning - ACEVO Funding Conference in Central Hall this morning . I was arguing the recession offers, the sector dangers and opportunities and it is the job of a Leader to make those opportunities , to plan strategically and prepare . So our job to make a Heav'n of Hell? But lets not be too gloomy in celebrating the birth of one of our greatest national poets .

The Annual Roadshow in Central Hall has become a real fixture in the third sector calender , attracting over 600 delegates . I open proceedings with the marvellous David Senior , who compares me with Napoleon . Kevin Brennan MP , our Third Sector Minister whispers in my ear , " well lets hope you are not facing your Winter in Moscow ". A sobering put down ! Kevin speaks after me , then Peter Wanless of the Big Lottery Fund . Peter last appeared tieless in my Blog but was today sporting an excellent Paul Smith which almost outmatched my silver Versace , but mine had the distinction of having been warn by Elton John! I bought it at one of his charity clothes sales, so neatly combining charity and style in a manner I like to emulate.

Public Service Reform remains very much on the Agenda . I go to the launch of the Commission on 2020 Public Services . This is being Chaired by Sir Andrew Foster and a cast of luminaries , including our very own Clare Tickell of Action for Children . They aim to publish in 18th months and to think differently about the way services are delivered . They launch the Commission with a rather alarming survey from Ipsos Mori which reveals that 52% of the general public " now expect more of Government than of God " . Only 26% disagreed . What a shocking reflection on the Godless nature of the British public . All down to taking Milton of the school curriculum one suspects ?

They have a drinks reception but I have a better offer ; David Cameron MP at the Policy Exchange Christmas Party . Both my Chair John Low and I get to have a long talk with Cameron and he quizzes us on the nature of the recession for us . We also talk of the great role we can play delivering services . He has a real interest in the sector and when he makes his speech he mentions the importance of the sector and that there are "eminent representatives of the sector " present . I nudge John .

John and I also have a fascinating chat with the new Director of the Policy Exchange ; we discuss the relationship between dog and cat ownership in a recession and the problems owners face if they can't really afford the bills .Apparently the incidence of pets being put down rises in a recession. This appalling thought propels me to the door and to return to my very own much loved puppy who spends the evening demolishing what remains of my right slipper while I watch that excellent BBC series " The Survivors ".

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