But timekeeper-in-chief Douglas Osler kept his introductory remarks brief and Brian Wilson kicked off bang on time at 10.35am - and so disappeared a good headline: "Minister turns up late for school attendance conference."
Osler also found himself in the unusual position of having to read out the fire-drill rules. This is apparently required to precede any gathering at the Scottish Office's modernistic Victoria Quay headquarters in Edinburgh.
He gave a passable impression of an airline steward's mantra: "You will find the emergency exits . . ." Alas for the photographic record, he did not don a life-jacket although there is a stretch of water outside the building.