So I went to this reception, all timid. The offices were in the British Embassy building - this *beautiful* Art Deco, marbled place. Eventually I got to talking to people - - Sen. George Mitchell and Ambassador Haass are just as amazing in person as they seem in the media.
But what really got me were the Irish there! Just the warmest, most amazing people . . . and so hospitable!
At one point I ended up talking to who turned out to be the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister's staff, as well as the staff of the new bureau, and they invited me out to a late dinner with them!
This made me astonished and happy enough, but then I found out that Deputy First Minister Durkan, the equivilant of our Vice Pres (as well as various other government officials) would be going with us!
So little old me got to jump in the DFM's limo with everyone, and we went to a pub/restaurant in Georgetown called The Guards. We all had dinner and wine and whatnot, and I got to listen to Mr. Call-Me-Mark Durkan tell stories about Tony Blair's Calvin Klein boxer shorts, among other things. Gerry Loughran was there, along with a lot of other key players. Trimble was having dinner across the street, but I still saw him briefly.
So they all found out about my Bono obsession when a U2 song started playing at the pub, and Wesley (Durkan's personal secretary) started telling me that Durkan knows Bono, so if they ever talked me into coming to Belfast to visit, he would be happy to introduce me.
They all fell in love with my digital camera, so they all took turns getting great shots of the group . . . even a potentially-dangerous one of myself and Durkan, which I immediately promised never to publish.
At around 2am, we finally got up to leave, and I got to practice my continental "kiss-kiss" goodbye with everyone. When I got to Durkan, he did the kiss-kiss, then gave me a kiss full on the mouth, proclaiming me one of them! :) One of the staff members offered to hail himself and I a cab, but Durkan then conspiratorially whispered to me that I shouldn't share a taxi with that man, so I took the hint and taxied home alone.
For more information about their government, go here . . .