There’s still a (short) week to go but for many colleagues, especially those travelling back to homes and families far away, this is their last day of work. So, a little earlier today I sat down with the members of my private office for a Christmas brunch. The second half of this year has been tough, what with the renewal exercise in September/October (30% turnover of members!), the bedding in of the new President and his team and the new Vice-Presidents, and the stresses and strains related to budgetary planning in a situation of uncertainty, to take but a few of the major challenges. But the administration rose magnificently to all of this and so did the members of my private office, who have to coordinate in an inobtrusive and efficient manner whilst not giving the impression of centralising and controlling for its own sake. It’s not an easy balancing act but they get it right all the time. Indeed, no secretary general could want for better colleagues nor a better team.