Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Back to school in Davos

Returning to Davos this year has a "back to school" feel about it. Last year I was a just a new boy but already I feel like a veteran amongst this year's newbies with whom I shared the short flight from London and the long coach ride from Zurich up into the mountains of Davos and Kloisters.

I dispensed sage advice to the usual eclectic mix of Davos attendees; the Oxford academic Director of a cutting edge research institute, the charming Chatham House diplomat, the Dutch developing country agriculture specialist who had just flown in from Delhi via Beijing.

As they told me about life changing medical treatment, food production in the Chinese counryside and geopolitical maneuvering, I told them about the importance of snow boots, how to barge billionaires out of the way to get the best seats and what not to wear at the British Business Leaders Lunch (apparently comfortable wooly jumpers are out, as I discovered last year when everyone else turned up in sombre business suits).

Speaking of sombre, the media is making a lot of the sombre mood in Davos this year. That is at odds with the excited chatter in the coach that I'm listening to. I just overheard someone say that a couple of years ago he and hundreds of others received a cocktail party invitation in the form of an ipod. He said he didn't know what it was back then so he threw it in the bin! Well, we may not get ipod invites this year but the Davos crowd is having its first day back at school and it's as excited as ever.

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