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Parliamentary freebies

Last week I saw a Parliamentary Online Resources exhibition. Intended to enlighten parliamentary workers about the wealth of information already at their fingertips—thanks to Commons subscriptions to pretty much every information service in existence, from news clippings services to security analysis to every encyclopedia ever conceived of to, I don’t know, lists of shoe sizes throughout history—the event was nonetheless sparsely attended. This was entirely due, I am convinced, to it being called “Parliamentary Online Resources day”. It’s the kind of name designed to repel all but those who use phrases like “delivering outcomes” without blushing. Certainly my eyes will have glazed over when I saw the email about it, which is why I then had no idea what the deputy editor was talking about when he asked me to go along.

So I did, and I was one of the precious few people there actually from Parliament. Almost all the other people attending the presentations and wandering around the stalls were from the other stalls, waiting to do their presentations. The presentations consisted mainly of people showing you how to work a search engine. I swiftly learned to avoid these, which left nothing but wandering from stall to stall, trying to look interested enough to be polite but no so interested that one of the over-eager demonstrators would catch my eye and offer me a personal demonstration of, inevitably, how to work their search engine.

The highlight of the giveaways was undoubtedly the 1GB Commons-Library-branded memory sticks, which rapidly disappeared in large numbers. Some stalls hadn’t tried too hard with their freebies. There were the obligatory bookmarks and pencils. BBC Monitoring had just brought along some Quality Street. But look! LexisNexis mints!*

And, my favourite, a Jane’s Defence Weekly boiled sweet.

“It’s fruit flavour,” said the man from Jane’s, as he was showing me how to access information on terrorist groups in Algeria. “Last year we had mints, but they were rank. Seriously, they were hangin’.”

* Apparently all the mints are in there, but the packet’s insanely complicated to open and then when you finally get to them they’re not the flavour you wanted, etc etc [Winner, Ben Elton Award for Coruscating Satire, Online Category, June 2007]


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 18th, 2007 03:19 pm (UTC)
a Jane’s Defence Weekly boiled sweet

They encourage teeth to fall out, and those teeth can subsequently be used as bullets.
Jun. 18th, 2007 03:41 pm (UTC)
As well you know, the efficacy of teeth as munitions has been conclusively proven to be little more than zero, and even that "little" is contested.
Jun. 18th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
plans were already in place to start requisitioning teeth

How, exactly?
Jun. 18th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC)
You forgot to say that the mints were CHOCLIT mints. It would therefore be legal choclit which doesn't count towards any lawyer's dietary intake.

I'm holding out for Westlaw Muffins.
Jun. 19th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
That's odd, I thought we'd cancelled the subscription to LexisNexis (note the use of the "we live in a house together - the Houses of Parliament" sense of "we").
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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