From meetings with British Lords and writing opinion papers to battling a faulty mobile phone network and watching Shrek – it is a jam-packed week for the director of the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau think-tankMonday
I have two important meetings today. The first is with Oxfam and Lord Browne on the Arms Trade Treaty. All Commonwealth countries are affected by the arms trade, and most want a strong United Nations treaty. For a few weeks, we have been trying to persuade Commonwealth countries to convene a meeting at the UN in New York, and possibly issue a statement to advance the negotiations. No luck yet, so we are going to try a different strategy. The second is a group presentation to the United Kingdom Parliament's All Party Parliamentary Group on the Commonwealth, with the title of What will the 2013 summit in Sri Lanka say about the Commonwealth?
. The meeting is well attended by parliamentarians of all three major parties. We call on them to encourage the Sri Lankan government to make progress against the benchmarks it has itself set out in its Lesson learnt and reconciliation commission
Today kicks off with another meeting, this time with the British government's post MDG team. (The British Prime Minister is one of three co-chairs of the UN's post-Millennium Development Goals high level panel. We discuss the possibility of conducting some policy-relevant research with Commonwealth countries to ensure that the views of developing countries, and especially small island states, feed into both the post-MDG agenda and the post-Busan agenda on aid effectiveness. After work, I head out for a bite to eat with some colleagues.
We are publishing this month's opinion piece tomorrow, so we need to generate some media interest today. This month's piece - co-authored by me and my colleague Professor Philip Murphy - calls for the Queen to be the last head of the Commonwealth and for the position of the headship to be abolished altogether at the end of her reign. While my colleague Rob is making media enquiries, I have staff meetings with colleagues including Tharanga from Sri Lanka and Tafadzwa Choto from Zimbabwe - who is on a three-month placement with us through the Commonwealth fellowship scheme. I am surprised that we have not received any phone calls from the media but once I get home at 7pm, there is a sudden influx of emails from BBC radio stations. They have been trying to ring me on my mobile all day but I am on the O2 network that has not been working for the last 24 hours. By 10pm, all the arrangements are in place for interviews in the morning. I just need to contact the builder to delay my building works, due to start early tomorrow. I check that my alarm works three times, just in case.
A 5.30am start. I have four radio interviews before 9am, I do the first with Radio 5Live
from home, balancing the phone with a cup of tea and a toasted muffin. The other three - with BBC Scotland, Wales and BBC Radio 4's Today Programme
are in Television Centre. I am home by 9.45am and the builders arrive at 10am. I have bought Oreos and chocolate digestives to apologise for the delayed start. I receive a few emails, texts and tweets of support and agreement. To my amusement, there are also some notable silences. I spend the day working from home, tired from the early start, surrounded by the sound of drills and saws. Urgh.
I arrive in the office to do another interview – this time for the Chinese station Phoenix TV
- but they contact me to say they need to postpone the interview until Monday because they are at an Olympics press conference, which is running late. I meet a friend for lunch, who has just moved to an office five minutes away from mine. We try to visit an old haunt - a Lebanese cafe on Sicilian Avenue near Holborn - but it has been replaced by a vegetarian restaurant that neither of us particularly fancy. We have a distinctly average sandwich in a cafe, then a quick look in the discount clothes shop next door; there is a nice dress in the half-price sale. I head back to the office to review and approve a forthcoming publication, a policy briefing for the Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers in August, before it goes to print next week. It hass been a busy week and we have all run out of steam. We all leave at 5pm.
I attend the annual conference of the Social Liberal Forum - an internal 'pressure group' in the Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg, the British Deputy Prime Minister gives the first Beveridge Lecture on the 'five giants' - want, ignorance, disease, squalor and idleness. It is a pretty good speech though I am a bit distracted at one point, as someone tries to squeeze past me to a free seat - tipping boiling tea over my right hand. There are some really good afternoon sessions on the aging population and social care, the coalition and intergenerational justice. It is good to catch up with people and nice to have some 'thinking space' - I jot a few ideas down on my tablet.
Sunday starts with a lie-in. Hurrah. I meet my friend Rosie in the afternoon. We make the most of the fact it is not raining for at least three hours and take an unexpected walk along London's South Bank to Lambeth Bridge. The cafe in a converted church is closed, but we stumble across a bohemian bar-on-a-boat. We have a glass of wine looking out over MI6 in one direction and the Houses of Parliament in the other. We walk back past Big Ben as it strikes 6pm. Despite living in London for eight years, I have actually never been stood by the clock when it strikes. I return home to prepare Monday's 'to do' list. I send a few emails relating to a 'prescription charges campaign' I am supporting, then make a few phone calls to friends and family with the film Shrek on in the background. Daisy Cooper is director of the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau think-tank