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ICANN Meeting blog: Indecision and insults

Riddles, fiddles and diddles in British Columbia

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The problem is that having soaked up huge amounts of information and stored them separately into: what you can relate to others, and what you need to keep confidential - or, at least, anonymous - you suddenly find new phrases have taken over your life: I understand that; I'm afraid I can't tell you that but; is it true that; that's not what I heard.

Retaining these confidences sees you forever steeping off to the side, muttering in low voices, and more often than not talking in bizarre riddles. I'm seriously considering a straight-as-a-die-day where I refuse to listen to anything not stated publicly in a very loud voice. The stories wouldn't be as good but then it would probably delay my future onset of Parkinson's by a few months.

Party time

After all these shenanigans, you'd think that everyone would be ready to party. Maybe they were but the big bash at the Hyatt Regency on Thursday night didn't give people much of a chance.

You'd think if you'd hired the enormous ballroom at a top hotel in the centre of the one of the world's most famous cities, you'd make an evening of it. And the organisers did - so long as you consider 9.30pm bedtime.

To save everyone embarrassment and unnecessary fiddling, the organisers helpfully also refused to take money at the assorted bars. No money needed - just give us your invite and you can have a free drink. One drink in, you suddenly realise though that you were only given one invite.

The next evening's bash looked equally as unpromising and so, armed with a local's knowledge of the city (step forward ICANN Ombudsman Frank Fowlie), there was a brief respite from the world of Internet politics and into the peculiar world of $7 beers and women dressed as if they're going to some kind of slutty opera.

God knows what the system is in these places but if you're paying £4 a drink it would appear that it's the done thing to then have to wait in a queue for someone behind a desk to show a set of bar stools that you're allowed to sit on.

Highly priced insults

Unaccustomed to such sophisticated ways, this British reporter and his Aussie drink partner created a minor diplomatic incident in the world of over-priced bars by simply walking in, going up to the bar and sitting down on the first two available seats which no doubt had been reserved two weeks earlier by prior invitation to a couple of muttons-dressed-as-lamb.

Vancouver also appears to have retro-UK licensing restrictions. As it hits midnight, you are obliged to stand out in the cold until either the bouncer decides you are humble enough to enter, or you pass out through wind-chill - whichever comes later.

Even the hotels have failed to escape the conspiracy. Having spent the last part of the night before walking round in a giant panoramic circle 40 floors up in my hotel, failing with each revolution to find a welcoming barman with a wide range of Scotch just itching to be paid for at exhorbitant prices, I took up the invitation of one-woman social hub Desiree Miloshevic to return to the Westin hotel and join the assembled masses of drunk delegates.

To no avail though. Even the Westin had just closed the bar at 12.30, despite the heavy contingent of Net-heads that were clearly capable of drinking through to the next morning's meetings. But all was not lost amid the rare honour of being insulted by a worse-for-wear ICANN president who mistook my approach as a wish to tackle him about the finer points of policy. Unfortunately, it was his more charming drinking companion I was hoping to talk to. They do warn at the bar that the locally-produced beer is a heady brew.®

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