This afternoon EESC President Staffan Nilsson and I congratulated some thirty officials who had completed twenty, thirty or (in two cases) forty years’ service for the EU and the Committee. Forty! The very thought makes me feel humble. I was still at school in 1971. It is a very enjoyable occasion. As always excellently organised by our HR colleagues, each colleague gets a certificate and has her or his photograph taken with the President and the Secretary General. In addition, I gave a little speech, with elements prepared or contributed by close colleagues, on each of the recipients. It is always a voyage of discovery. I learned that one colleague has climbed Africa’s highest mountains and written a book about Mount Kilimanjaro; another’s secret passion is collecting orchids; another is a passionate expert on the world’s 6,000+ languages. It’s simply a lovely occasion. After thirty speeches and over an hour at the podium I had a slightly sore throat but I wouldn’t do it otherwise for all the tea in China.