Friday, November 10, 2006


Rushing away from the post shooting meal and drinking, I headed south towards Telford for the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) conference.

Driving down the unlit, wet, back roads of Cheshire, for the first time in my life I started to really wish I had a Sat Nav. Normally I’m a happy map reading kind of gal, but the combination of the pitch black and a county seemingly bereft of sign-posts, I was left to follow, my fortunately quite good sense of direction.

Arriving at the hotel, I register at the AFO desk, where they hand me various items for the weekend, including a Delegate’s Contact List.

My heart sinks. Oh please tell me they haven’t? Oh crap they have – there in black and white are my home address and phone number (provided to them for the joining instructions), which they are merrily giving out to 200 random strangers.

I raise the issue with the guy behind the desk and I’m initially met by a blank look and a lack of comprehension as to why this is a problem. It’s not being picky, it’s important stuff that organisations need to get right. I’ve had problems in the past and a friend had the horrendous experience of her work’s HR department giving out her home details to a colleague. She was then harassed and stalked for over a year and her life became a living hell. I’m tempted to suggest that I take his wife’s details and proceed to subject her to nuisance phone calls and stalking to impress on him the reason why you need to treat people’s details with respect. His failure to understand the issue or properly apologise or come up with any resolution leaves me struggling to control my growing fury at his incompetence, but I bite it back and keeping as calm and assertive as I can (Sally you’d have been proud), I try again to explain some of the reasons why this important, why I personally get skittish about this stuff.

He seems to vaguely start to appreciate that it was maybe a bit of a mistake to have done this, but even my mention of the clear contravention of the data Protection Act fails to illicit any reaction from him that suggests he’s really comprehending the gravity of the situation. Similarly when I say that I appreciate there’s not a great deal that can be done about the sheets already given out, but what about the large pile waiting for delegates that have yet to arrive, he just looks at me blankly.

Fortunately at this point the women behind him intervenes, clearly understanding the problem rather better. She apologises for the mistake and suggests they blank pen out the details on the remaining sheets, or better still if they can, print out some labels with the office address to stick over the top.

Lovely, I say, thank you for doing what you can.

Not a good start to the conference. I decide I need to unwind, so dump my bag in my room and head to the hotel’s leisure suite. Forty minutes of lengths in their rather small pool later (shoulder fine – yay!) and I’m much more relaxed and ready to track done Pete and co and hit the bar.

Unfortunately, the recoil from the gun has left me with a seriously bruised right shoulder, making drinking difficult.

Anyone got a straw?


Anonymous said...

My sympathies. I try not to use my home address when possible but use my work address. My job can be a bit sensitive, not a good idea to broadcast too much info if poss. Then some hotels get really uppitty about not using my home address. And I get uppitty back.

sally said... it the same shoulder, or does Shaun need to work on both now??? And well done for being assertive....brownie points earned. what prats.