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Wheel of fortune

postcards from blackpool At the tuc conference in Blackpool, the Big Wheel of revolution has given way to 'continuous progress with ups and downs'

The 08.10 from Euston to Blackpool North on platform 18 left late, sported two differing coach liveries, but did eventually arrive.

Prior to this departure I had visited Jonathan Miller's exhibition at the National Gallery housed in the Venturi pastiche extension - it reminded one of the tricks mirrors can play on the human brain.

The next day the wind was violent and the weather sunny.

Inside the Winter Gardens' Empress Ballroom, the amateur brass band played boisterously, the press room unwrapped their first chocolate swimsuits and pocketed the tuc gift cd and that was all before 08.30, at which time Rodney Bickerstaffe, general secretary of the biggest of the affiliated unions, arrived chirping with his lieutenants. Congress was to start at 09.30.

Earlier in the week, deputy prime minister John Prescott had quickly altered his hectoring manner, having realised that he was 'with friends' - at least, not enemies. His wrong-footing was understandable, for this was the first standard tuc conference since the rather special honeymoon one which occurred after the election of May 97. They - the tuc and a Smarties (chocolate sweets) Galaxy of Labour mps - appeared to be dancing together, but were they partners? No one, or almost no one, was prepared to ask that question - at least not until Mandelson, who in his own manner redefined the future dance manners as the government saw it. Rodney Bickerstaffe, once again, eloquently pointed out that so far, so good, but by no means would it go far enough? Time would tell as the Brothers would be watching, as would all of us.

The Big One has joined the gang at the Pleasure Beach down the street. Continuous progress with ups and downs replacing the single revolution with staggering views and a journey which ends where it starts.

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