It may turn out that the timing of Floggers was fortunate, because although everyone was joking about swine flu, they were still hugging and (social) kissing with abandon, and no-one had yet started to think about avoiding mass gatherings. Particularly gatherings on their own turf, and which couldn't really be classed as business travel.
For sure, some regular faces were missing, and the half-size attendance booklet showed that only 73 tables were taken, instead of last year's 94. But these banqueting venues are clever, and somehow the place looked as full and hectic as ever. Ann Widdecombe's speech went down well, with some rabble-rousing comments about UK business drowning in red tape and regulations. I liked her anecdotes - one about a man in an audience who had slept through her one of her speeches, and another about dealing with questions she couldn't answer - which she delivered with great comic timing in her high shrieky voice, before rushing off back to the House of Commons for the afternoon vote on the Gurkhas.
You couldn't help but notice that the list of apres-lunch suites was considerably shorter than in previous years, and that some of the big companies were sharing rather than hosting multiple tables. But you'd never think there was a 20-40% downturn in sales volumes from the crowd outside the Audley Arms at 5pm, where a black-and-yellow crime scene tape had been applied along the pavements, and private security guards hired to heave the crowds back onto the pavements and out of the way of the passing traffic.