A waiting game

‘Not bad’ was how supper was rated at the table I was sitting at. Not bad and gratis. Hot and cold meals, desserts and cheeses were on offer. I opted the steak and chips with a side salad option. 7/10. Not bad.

I found myself surrounded by Catalonian journalists where the conversation started out with what implications any financial perspectives (FP) (Eurocratese for ‘budget’) deal might have for Catalonia. We swiftly moved on to matters closer to our hearts, “chica, que passa este fin de semana? Soy enfermo de esperar el fin de semana para llegar.” For that is what tonight turned into: a waiting game.

Other than eating and drinking, what better way to pass the time than speculate? As journalists stand around in huddled groups, tap violently, incessantly on their laptops and whisper into their mobile phones, I am curious as to what speculations they are making…who actually knows what’s going on? Written articles with that clinching paragraph to be filled in later?

And so the waiting game goes on – waiting for something to happen or someone to say something. Something and anything. I take another stroll around and realize that, like many games, this one can be quite fun. Especially for a novice like myself (“I’m soooo booorreeeed,” one British hack covering her twelfth summit told me).

For, most journalists sit in clusters according to nationality, so when the FP becomes too much, journos can have a good old chinwag in their mother tongue. In many ways, these journalists are an insight in the strange and fascinating world of people that call themselves Europeans. Innocent eavesdropping can lead to absolute hilarity. You’ll learn how talk like The Godfather, unravel the workings of the German mind, bitte, danke und scheiße, and if you’re really lucky, you might land yourself an invitation from Achilles to visit him in Thesaaloniki.

Internal television circuits mean that one need never leave one’s seat to view the action that’s taking place just outside the door. In truth, all that entire basement is missing is armchairs - 2040 of them. Besides, if one gets really bored waiting, one can pop up to level 1 and indulge in a subsidized eighty-cent Belgian beer or for that matter anything from aftershock to ouzo. Cheap as chips.

By 10pm, numbers were dwindling (not in the bar I hasten to add) and when it was announced that the scheduled UK presidency press conference wouldn’t take place, many called it an early night.

So no secured FP deal - no news is good news? While the general mood tonight is still relatively relaxed, I expect that once the clocks starts ticking tomorrow (it always ticks faster on a Friday), as time runs out, I expect things will really heat up. If from nothing else, from body heat building up in the dungeons of that basement.

Posted by Gemma in EU Summit December 2005 Politics at December 16, 2005 12:13 AM