I'm sitting in a football stadium on a mild and sunny Saturday afternoon in this cool damp English summer, watching our team in what is only its third game this season as all the expensive new players fail to score a single goal.
Watching football in warm weather is a pleasantly new experience for me. It's normally an outing I associate with freezing winds and driving rain, standing muffled in coat, hat and gloves with a thick scarf wrapped around my face. This is where my treasured Lyondell Equistar black and silver thermos flask of hot coffee comes into its own. When it comes to chemical freebies, it's the thought that counts.
ICIS policy on freebies is to share them out around the office and that really isn't a problem when it comes to gifts like the "25 Years of SABIC" cake or the Neste reindeer meat, but no-one is going to prise this thermos from my frozen fingers.
Never under-estimate the power of free stuff. ICIS free gifts from conferences are famed throughout the petchem industry. People are still asking me if we still have the shiny chrome computer mouse. Hardened executives beat a well-trodden path to the ICIS suite at EPCA to load up their conference bags with furry toys, plastic ducks and glow-in-the-dark pens.