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« Forest at the Labour conference | Main | Forest event under threat »

Brighton 2005 - Forest's greatest hit?

Later today I shall be driving down to Brighton for the Labour party conference. This is the first time I have been back to Brighton since David Hockney's famous appearance (as a guest of Forest) at the 2005 Labour conference which attracted front page headlines and a string of interviews with the great man. ("A rare publicity coup by the friends of lung cancer," sniffed Jasper Gerrard in the Sunday Times. Charming.)

Older readers may be sick of me mentioning it but for the benefit of newer readers it was one of the best days of my working life. Thinking about it still makes me laugh. The memory of Hockney standing shoulder to shoulder with anti-tobacco campaigner Stuart Holmes in the Hilton West Pier Hotel (now a Holiday Inn) is priceless.

Even funnier was the sight of Holmes being "escorted" from the hotel (via a fire escape) by hotel management while 20 or more photographers fought to get the best picture.

Nor will I forget the ten frantic minutes during which we went from one rain-lashed building to another in search of the BBC's makeshift studio where Hockney was to be interviewed by Andrew Neil live on The Daily Politics. (We eventually found it with seconds to spare.)

Afterwards we returned to the main bar at the Metropole Hotel where journalists were queuing up to interview our special guest. I've been involved in a few PR stinkers in my time but this was a day when almost everything we touched turned to gold. You can read the results in The Times, Independent and Daily Telegraph (among others) and on BBC News.

The Independent has my favourite quote but you have to read it in context. See if you can guess what it is.

Interviews completed, Hockney then addressed a Forest meeting chaired by Claire Fox of the Institute of Ideas. Other speakers were Joe Jackson, Sue Carroll of the Daily Mirror, Sue Brealey, co-author of The Joy of Smoking, and me.

The venue may have been small but all seats were taken and people were queuing to squeeze in at the back. I've never known an atmosphere like it. Gales of laughter erupted at regular intervals. Afterwards the man from DeHavilland, the political monitoring agency, described it as "one of the best fringe meetings for years". (The Yorkshire Post covered it HERE.)

Afterwards we took all our speakers to dinner before our most famous guest returned to London. Hockney enjoyed the day as much as anyone and it's one of the reasons, I think, why he continues to support our efforts.

Finally, I will NEVER forget the long walk along the promenade in the early hours of the morning. With the rain bouncing off the pavement and gale-force winds blowing us sideways, I eventually found my hotel, peeled off my sodden clothes and collapsed on the bed, still laughing.

Believe me, life doesn't get much better than that.

PS. The interview by Jasper Gerrard can be found HERE.

Reader Comments (6)

While this particular blog heads towards the Tory Conference and its presence there, the poorly attended Labour Conference continues its boring and annoying insult to our intelligence. The Beeb gave a fair hearing to the LibDem Conference and also the Greens.

Scant mention, of course, of the fourth largest party UKIP. Its hugely successful and well attended Conference was in the Southport Conference Centre. It had twice the number of delegates the Labour Conference has and generally came first or second in both the 2009 EU elections and Council elections.

What price democracy?

Meanwhile, let's use our waiting time to add to our knowledge regarding the Benefits of Smoking and the lies which have been told.

These links were contributed yesterday by Chas on the F2C Lounge Bar site. Fascinating stuff about lung cancer and our belief that we have brown stained lungs:-

and also, [scroll down for this one]:-

Cigarette smoke can prevent allergies ... 94113.html

Both can be accessed via this link:-

Good luck at the Tory Conference, Simon. We can imagine how busy you are with preparations.

September 29, 2009 at 11:52 | Unregistered CommenterMargot Johnson

As you know Margot, I am not a supporter of UKIP, even though I do support their two main policies, i.e. the smoking ban and getting out of Europe.

But I do admire your constant determination to keep up the fight for your party. One thing I am surprised you have not mentioned, is old windbag Brown's proposed statement, that he is now willing to go head to head with Cameron on TV, and that also includes Liberal Democrat, Nick Clegg.

Surely if the old windbag is offering his ugly mug for all to see on national television, then it can only be fair and democratic if he is willing to face "all" political opponents? Why stop at the Lib-Dems?

On another matter, do you have an inside as to who is going to take over from Nigel Farage
when he stands down?

September 29, 2009 at 14:39 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood


Now THAT would be a dream scenario; all three peas-in-a-pod versus Nigel Farage! Aint gonna happen, though. He remains as party spokesman in addition to his other two UKIP Leadership jobs, so we will see him in action again.

Selection process for new UKIP leadership has already started via a personal letter to each of us. Any member can apply provided that, their record being squeaky clean, their application form is signed by a proposer, seconder, and fifty assentors from at least ten branches.

If he can be persuaded to stand, I think my vote would go to UKIP peer Lord Pearson. I'll never forget his day-in-day-out fight against ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. He must be one of the few parliamentarians who have actually read it. On voting day, of course, all the fat cat Lords turned up - no doubt with gravy still dribbling down their well-fed chins. The "Yes Vote" EU-controlled party whips were cracked, then they all filed out again ready to resume their comfortable sleeps.

I DID try to stay awake during Brown's resonant statesmanlike conference speech today, but the sofa won. I'll watch the news.

Meanwhile, Farage fights on in Ireland. Just three days to go. See how the on-line petition has grown! It was only started in Austria a few days ago.

September 29, 2009 at 18:06 | Unregistered CommenterMargot Johnson

Well said Margot.I have already signed the petition by the way.

September 29, 2009 at 19:11 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Me, too !

And thanks for the links, Margot...........

September 29, 2009 at 21:33 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Haha ha hee hee hee. Brilliant Simon, one of the funniest ever. hold my hurting sides. what geniuses all round.

what great memories.

And just remind me simon, what did you actually achieve as a result of these japes?

we now can't smoke anywhere.

Get effective and stop patting yourself on your ineffectual back.

October 2, 2009 at 17:30 | Unregistered CommenterA REAL campaigning smoker

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