Another day of meetings all day. I was talking to our head of HR today on the phone and she asked where I was and I said Den Haag. She asked what for and I said ‘International Actuarial Association’ meetings. She started to laugh and said you must be enjoying that. She knows me well!
We started today with a 7am breakfast with the whole of Europe. Well at least the actuaries who represent the whole of Europe. That would be a French guy who I never can understand (same guy yesterday who it took 10 minutes to explain the difference between Standards with a capital S and standards with a small s); a Swedish guy who really is an English guy living in Sweden and an English guy (living in England). It was a good breakfast meeting actually because the two English guys did most of the talking and I could understand them.
Then I had another committee meeting from 9 to 12:30. Mercifully they broke for tea in the middle for 30 minutes and when we got back the chairman said he could wrap up the balance of the meeting in about 15 minutes. He did it in about 10. He is now my favourite chairperson. This afternoon we met with the Australians (always a good meeting generally held in the bar – you can see the Australian priorities) and then we met with the Canadians immediately afterwards. And the French found there way into that meeting again as well but at least those French can speak English well. It was a useful meeting though they seemed to be prying us for information like we were leading the world in Actuarial thinking. Nice they think so highly of us Safricans.
That meeting finished just in time for us to make the gala dinner. Turned out to be not so much gala as stand up eating. When I eventually found Paul amongst the 800 people (actually I found Tina and then Paul came looking for Tina when she didn’t return), his first words were “And I have figured out there are not enough tables here for everyone). The poor Dutch guys tried to do speeches but no one stopped speaking while they spoke. It wasn’t the right time or venue for long speeches but that didn’t deter them. They proceeded anyway.
Dinner was stand in a queue only to get a side plate full of food which you knew was not going to be enough to feed you so the best thing was just to join the back of the queue again so that when you were finished that plate you were back at the food again. Either that or you could get to the leaves station – no queue there at all. They had multiple stations with food from around the world. Arabic, Asian, American, Dutch. Bet you didn’t know there was such a thing as American cuisine. I didn’t. But I joined all the Americans in the queue (no ways they were eating anything but American obviously) and finally got a plate of glazed gammon & potatoes (they also had coleslaw and Waldorf salad but who would ever eat that). So now you know what American cuisine is.
By the time I found Paul and Tina again the Arabic queue had dissipated and they said the lamb stew was good so I got some of that for desert. By this stage people were sitting on the floor (at the GALA dinner). I gave up shortly afterwards and returned to my room to catch up on the thousands of emails I didn’t answer while in the sessions. Now I am planning to catch up on last nights lack of sleep. I have a full day of meetings again tomorrow from 8am to dinner. Very excited about that.
Two photos from my hotel room window of Den Haag – it might be all I get to see of the place. Tina says it is beautiful and that Helen would have loved it and should have come with me (yes Helen … listen to Tina next time).