aean lapeyreThis afternoon took on a distinctly sad tinge. First, we had a farewell lunch for Jean Lapeyre, who has been working as a detached national expert in the SG’s private office for the past two years. Jean, who began life as a glass blower and ended up, through his trades union activities, as Deputy Secretary General of the European Trades Union Confederation has a distinguished career behind him and, I am sure, a very active retirement ahead of him. Then I went to the farewell drinks of a longstanding and very popular Italian member of the administration. He came to Belgium as a young immigrant and worked in the steel industry and as an electrician before shifting across to more administrative work, ultimately ending up in the Committee’s administration. From there I went to say goodbye to a young Portugese colleague who had been working for the Committee as a temporary agent. And then I had the tremendously sad duty to sign an information notice to all staff about the untimely death, at the age of 53, of another popular colleague. In a small institution at times the role of SG is a bit like that of a vicar or a parish priest, ministering to his flock. Well, today the vicar was very sad.