I held a small drinks party at lunchtime today to say farewell to my old directorate. I really enjoyed my two years (too short!) in charge of a consultative works directorate. I had an extraordinarily broad policy remit: the single market, production and consumption; transport, energy, infrastructure and the information society; agriculture, rural development and the environment; a consultative committee on industrial change (CCMI) and two observatories, one on the single market and the other on sustainable development. Simply keeping up to date on the activities of my various sections, CCMI and observatories kept me on my toes, and there were so many important policy developments, from the energy and climate change package through to the CAP health check, that I seemed to be forever reading position papers and briefings. It was intellectually challenging and great fun. The fun was due in great part to my former colleagues. Not only were they good company, but they got the job done – sometimes under very difficult circumstances. Unexpectedly, they gave me some presents, wittily and affectionately chosen, and they gave me a card with  a lot of personal messages that I’ll cherish for the rest of my days. Afterwards I took my former secretariat – Rita, Christine and Baiba – to lunch, where Baiba revealed a compendious knowledge about digestifs (I promised her I’d put that in). I’ll miss them all – the consolation is that they’re not far away.