Queen is an ace at cards

CONFERENCE DIARY

This being a distinguished international summit, there has been a non-stop stream of receptions, accompanied by an abundance of posh canapes. They are hosted by mayors, prime ministers, and even queens. One is, of course, allowed to reveal nothing at all about what happens at the Queen's reception, since this would be to behave like a rogue Canadian DJ. But it is probably not a state secret to note that the Queen's gold- edged invitations are twice as big as ordinary invitation cards and do not slip into any ordinary pocket. There was thus a little clutch of abandoned invitations on the way in, which guests could be seen busily retrieving on the way out.

Oversize invitations were not the only problem. There was the more familiar problem of pique at failing to get invited. Yesterday the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, hosted an event for government heads. The French ambassador apparently believed he should have been invited and turned up sans invitation. And of course got thrown out before he got through the first level of security. Much embarrassment, when it turned out what had happened. But one has to ask oneself: why on earth would the French ambassador want to turn up at a social event at which he could only expect to be roasted, smoked or fried?

Every summit has an assortment of protesters, and this is no different. Nuclear tests and Maori rights have been a constant throughout the conferenceYesterday it was the turn of those protesting on behalf of Kashmir to stand up and be counted. As at other summits, the police make sure the demonstrators do not breach security barriers. But one difference here is that the police never stop smiling. One becomes accustomed to the idea that security people look grim and suspicious - or icily polite at best - as they frisk you. But all the Auckland police chat and smile - to delegates, media, protesters, and assorted passers-by - for all the world as though they were content to be alive. If a remark which might be construed as surly should happen to cross their lips, it's promptly followed it up with: "Just extracting the urine." There must be a bad-tempered policeman somewhere in Auckland. But he hasn't been spotted yet.

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