The whole of this morning was taken up with a series of ‘bilateral’ meetings. Since I took up the cudgels of the Secretary Generalship in September 2008 I have had to get used to the fact that I am no longer responsible for my agenda and only control my time if I choose pro-actively to do so. Rather, my excellent officials book me into meetings as a function of urgency and time available. I have therefore developed a philosophy of meetings; they are like the weather. There can be good and bad weather but the one certainty is that there will always be weather, and in the same way there will always be meetings. Among the good meetings are my encounters with new officials. I welcome every new official personally to the Committee. I do this because Sir John Priestman (Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) and David Williamson (Secretary General of the European Commission) both did it when I started as a young official in their respective institutions and I think it’s an excellent practice and in any case one I am determined to emulate. This morning I met, among others, a young Portugese translator. We got chatting about her – as yet unfinished – PhD thesis with the fascinating working title ‘Melancholy, interpretation and fall.’ The essential melancholy of interpretation, as I understood it, is that when we translate we are doomed to approximation and hence to failure. This reminded me of the saying that poetry is what you cannot translate. I could have carried on chatting for hours. Europe, endless!