Thank God it's Friday

7th July 2000 at 01:00
MONDAY Off to the Summit 2000 media conference in Toronto. At Gatwick I meet Steve, whom I haven't seen since the Toulouse conference in 1990. Toulouse, Toronto - I fear the next may be in Tooting. After registering at the conference centre, we head for our college accommodation, only to be caught in the worst storm that Toronto has experienced for years. Two people are killed.

TUESDAY Taking the Skywalk to Union Station, we are surprised to see the concourse strewn with burst suitcases and a sign reading "Welcome to Chicago". We have walked into a film set. US companies regularly use Canadian locations because of the relative strength of the US dollar. That evening, Steve and I share a bottle of rye with some Canadian colleagues. "So," says Wayne, "you're a school inspector - is that like in Women In Love?" I quickly point out that my job does not involve wrestling naked before a fire with Chris Woodhead.

WEDNESDAY At one of the morning sessions on advertising, we learn that in the Philippines there is cold storage for Pepsi but not for vaccines. In the evening we visit Chinatown wit the Russian delegate. The restaurant empties at 10pm. Apparently the locals always eat at nine and leave by 10.

THURSDAY Some of us take part in a live broadcast about teenage suicide and go on to a reception at the local TV company, CHUM (clearly a station with a pedigree). On the way, our guide points out something near the railroad tracks. She had been homeless and panhandled outside the TV studios. Eventually someone offered her a job. Her belongings are still down by the tracks. Some fairy tales really do happen.

FRIDAY Today's keynote address by the local TV mogul is delivered via video. Some delegates object to this protracted advert, but if the medium is the message then this is certainly what the man is about.

We prepare to leave Toronto, dragging our own weight in documents. Ian wants to leave in style in a stretch limo, but the cost proves prohibitive. Steve and I are waiting for the shuttle bus when a hotel doorman asks us if we'd like to share a limo with one of the guests. Eat your heart out, Ian.

David Meaden is an adviser in an outer Londonborough


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