I went to Man United v Roma last week as a guest of Philip Green, the chief executive of United Utilities. It was one of those gatherings that I had to pinch myself I was a part of. The other guests were all real big shots: my good pal Paul Horrocks, the editor of the Manchester Evening News; Paul Lee, the senior partner of law firm Addleshaw Goddard; Ian McAulay, UU's MD of Capital Programmes; Ian Marks, the leader of Warrington Council; Julian Metherell, the chief executive of UK Investment Banking with Goldman Sachs; finally there was a guy there called Nick Greiner from UU Australia. Having lived down under for a year I remembered that he used to be the state premier of New South Wales.
It pays to do your homework in instances such as this and I have done so ever since in order not to get caught out in exactly such circumstances. The reason is that in 2000, I met this very nice bloke at the wedding of my friends Colleen and Matthew in San Francisco. He was the father of the Colleen's business partner, Jessica.
I was very jet lagged and slightly manic, Charles was being very kind and charming to me and wanted to know about my journey.
Being polite, I asked back: "What business are you in Charles?"
"Oh, are you a teacher?"
"Not exactly. I'm the deputy minister for education for British Columbia."
It's true, this is him, here.
And while I'm name dropping I also ought to mention that Matthew's Uncle was also there. It's this bloke. Seriously, after a while he just became Matt's Uncle.