Sunday, 11 March 2012

Haberdashers' Aske's Boys School Model United Nations 2012


Or HABSMUN for short. Picture the scene. Habs was being transformed from an excellence nurturing machine to a Model United Nations conference, birds were singing, Mr Simm's customary yellow trousers were out and Will Thong was rumoured to be firing a member of the committee for no apparent reason. Having successfully navigated the week, using HABSMUN as an excuse as much as possible, it was finally the Friday, the day it would all begin. The banter began before any delegate even arrived with Mr Pauletto or "duce", imploring us to not mention the war because a German school were coming. Top banter indeed. Hoping it would improve, I was disappointed to see that someone took the opportunity to put my girlfriend's name on a badge saying "Property of Raphael Levy". Clearly the famous Habs level of wit was out in full force in anticipation of a weekend of a debate. My road trip with David Gottlieb, which lasted all of 30 minutes, was much more fun with Gottlieb's driving providing much laughter. Suffice to say his driving isn't great and he managed to hit a car within 10 seconds of trying to exit his space, I was very worried. It didn't help that he then confessed he only passed recently before stalling twice trying to re-enter Habs.  

Upon our return, I walked around for a bit looking important and wondered if (or indeed when) I would ever have to actually do anything. Even as schools began arriving and the walkie talkies went mental as no one could find Rob Harris (a theme that continued the entire conference) I felt underwhelmed as Ollie Anisfeld did what he does best and that is muscle his way in control. But I think it went well - no one got lost and Will Thong was still alive, no mental breakdown in sight and, or so it seemed, relatively calm. Well compared to the preceding weeks anyway. It was nice to finally see delegates in committee, lobbying away and thus the conference actually beginning. Why we open the conference after lobbying begins I am not quite sure, but regardless the day I had been waiting for had finally arrived, opening speeches were made and safety announcements made, HABSMUN 2012 was soon to be declared open. Before that, however, I slowly made my way to somewhere never before ventured by the ordinary Habs boy and that is the Staff Common room.

What lay behind those doors? Was there a gym? A boxing ring? A swimming pool? A trouser press with "Property of Mr Simm" inscribed on it? Perhaps there was snooker table and football goal? Nothing of the sort - just some seats, a table and some drinks machines. There was, however, also a finger food buffet which was to be our lunch. Having established that seconds was allowed, I was not complaining and tucked into the most expensive part of the HABSMUN food bill. It was quite nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the conference while making casual small talk with advisors who were all to quick to compliment the PGAs on giving up their time and commend us on how much work we must do. 

Opening ceremony was nothing particularly special with yet another opportunity taken to make fun of my dress sense. It was discouraging to note how many delegates actually seemed to get the joke not that I was complaining about the attention. Without the musical delights of Ben Okafor and his hit "living in a suitcase", we were treated to George Grant who looked suspiciously like Boris Johnson's younger brother. Anyway, he rambled on for a bit (the irony...) and we went home excited for the conference proper to start. 

All that standing around and listening to people was incredibly exhausting and I crashed out in bed at about 8.30 having left my computer on and music still playing. Saturday was a weird day for me. Other than having to chair ECOSOC for a bit as Ben went off to play football, there wasn't much for me to do. I spent the day in Disarmament (where my bow-tie, pocket square, socks and cuff-link combo impressed with another best dressed award heading my way) and did some general wondering around. I was waiting to hear my name over the radio for something to do, a problem to solve or a delegate to reprimand. Nothing of the sort happened and I was left to my own devices for the entire day, not that I was complaining. It did mean that I spent a lot of time randomly posing for pictures but that, I suppose, was much better than being sat in a committee room all day. It just seemed odd to be given a role that, apparently, is an organising one and then spend the entirety of the only full day of the conference walking around looking pretty. 

See? Looking pretty!
Having successfully done nothing for a day I was delighted to get the general consensus that everything was going well. I think Thong implication that the conference is a success for those on the organising committee if the delegates enjoy it could not be truer, and it seemed as though this was the case in the main. Saturday night was an interesting one. There was, apparently, an event at Proud which is apparently a "club", not that I have any idea what that is. This of course was completely unaffiliated with the school and I am not even sure anyone went to it, just showing how unrelated to HABSMUN it was. Having turned down the Chair Dinner and suffered many sexually related jokes at my expense as a result, I was quite happy to have the chance to relax with my ex-girlfriend (who has insisted on a mention for the record.) I am happy for you to make of that comment what you will, but other than demolish a Nandos it was a relatively uneventful, if enjoyable, night. 

Having decided that I don't get enough jokes at my expense because of what I wear, I decided blinding as many people as possible was in order by wearing a golden jacket. Yes, golden. I was compared to a gay vicar and got a few negative "OMG"s but that was far outweighed by the numerous "I love your jacket" etc compliments that many girls gave me. So I wasn't too fussed. Hey, if I was worried about what people were going to say I wouldn't wear such outrageous clothing! I was delighted to finally be given a job to do - announce crisis to the Human Rights Committee which consisted in running in and screaming "CRISIS". A very enjoyable task! There was a small mutiny on the cards next as the PGAs asked, reasonably, if we may do the jobs we were selected for and actually chair General Assembly rather than watch the Sec-Gens do it.  Not amused, we tried to work out a compromise whilst I tried to ascertain how long I would have for lunch.  

The gold jacket in question
GA finally rolled around and it was time for my actual job to begin - repeatedly telling delegates to be quiet and delighting in finally, after 4 years of being annoyed when I hear it, saying the phrase "or I will be forced to suspend note-passing", something that occurred a few times. I enjoyed receiving bribes saying "here is some chocolate/haribo (etc), please recognise us" and sending back "I am afraid I am not eating sweets, chocolate, desserts etc and thus this bribe does not work". Nice to be in control I suppose. I was very happy, however, to receive Matzo from the Italian delegation, a bribe that I could eat. Not that I let it affect my judgement. GA was an interesting "committee" to chair - much louder and more difficult to control, obviously, than a regular one and the influx of bribes and interesting notes was difficult to cope with at times but nonetheless I really enjoyed it. 

General Assembly...nearly over :( 
I did not want to to end. Well I guess I didn't want HABSMUN to end, but I guess it had to. With the final resolution debated, the final votes counted and the final minor issue as Ollie Anisfeld managed to spill coffee all over the desk and certificates, we were just about ready to close the conference. You would have thought nothing, really, could go wrong. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't even Ollie Anisfeld that made the comment (although some of his jokes were questionable) with Omar Ali taking centre stage in a weird attack on the streets of Croydon. That aside, the conference was drawing to a close and I made an emotional, for me, last ever speech at a Model United Nations conference and had the honour of announcing the Outstanding delegation award. With the gavel banged, the delegates leaving and slightly tearful eyes, all that was left was to...

...Get hugs from as many people as possible. Literally everyone was subject to the "Random Hug?" to which the usual response is "erm, ok?" with most being shocked sufficiently so that their vocal chords no longer seem to work and they are forced to nod in agreement. There are a few that do jump at the opportunity to hug a man wearing a funny jacket and a bowtie, but they are a limited few. Even hugs failed to cheer me up as it dawned upon me that this was to be my final MUN conference. Forgive me for being cringe or a bit soppy but MUN has been something I have enjoyed for 4 years now and I think I am going to miss it. 

I never wanted to write this post. Quite simple really, this post means my Model United Nations career, if we are to call it a career, has now come to an end. I guess I'm just going to miss it; meeting new people; getting random hugs and, of course, winning best dressed delegate. The business of writing about this conference was difficult. It wasn't external, obviously, so there were no coach trip antics, no opportunities to demolish Chinese or Premier Inn buffets or get "lost" in a convenience store and buy some "batteries". But this was what made HABSMUN so special. It was nice to end on home turf, at the conference which introduced me to MUN 4 long years ago which resulted in me meeting so many wonderful people, getting so many wonderful hugs and spending such amazing times away from school. I guess all that remains to be said is thank you - thank you to everyone who made HABSMUN a success, to everyone that has made any conference I have ever been to a success, to everyone I have ever hugged and finally to everyone I have ever met at MUN. 

4 years later, numerous awards, many memories, some fantastic conferences and brilliant people met, it is time to call it a day on Model United Nations. Not that I want to.