IFE opened in spanking new premises in London's Docklands this week ­ so new, in fact, that when exhibitors came on a preview visit last year they were a little worried to find it still under construction. But while the venue, ExCel, was in good shape, a lot of exhibitors and visitors were pretty frazzled by the time they arrived. Some foreign exhibitors complained that ­ unlike the venue ­ their hotel nearby was still under construction and had virtually no facilities. Still, at least it was a simple journey from there. The rest of us either had to queue for ages to get in and out of the car parks, or stand jammed shoulder to shoulder on the Docklands (or should that be Toytown?) Light Railway. A limited poll of taxi drivers (three) found one who knew where ExCel was, and therefore refused to go there, and two who had never heard of it and needed directions, so getting to IFE 2001 "the smart way" was a challenge. Still, I did tour Docklands a couple of times, passed the Tower of London twice, and nearly ended up on the runway at City airport before finally drawing up outside the exhibition centre. Official comment from the exhibition centre owners: "We used a database of 19,000 cabs and they all know where we are. You must have picked one of the remaining 3,000." Well, at least 19,001 now know the way! Visitors from Belfast who flew in to City airport reckoned they were able to leave home later than anyone from West London. And once you were in and managed to find the cloakroom ­ the final indignity: having to pay £1 for every item you wanted to leave added insult to injury. Getting there may have been bad, but trying to get home was worse. Only two rail ticket machines were available at the show ­ two more were tucked away around a corner which had to be pointed out by staff. Visitors queuing for tickets may have been disgruntled but not half as much as the ones trapped behind a massive crowd control grid 50 feet behind them (See pic below). Still, being crushed together provided some protection from the Arctic wind off the Thames and gave a foretaste of the intimately packed tube and the awful journey back into London. IFE is a great occasion for evening bashes. So it was on to the Savoy on Tuesday for the Welsh Development Agency dinner. Juicy Welsh lamb washed down by the finest local liqueurs. But that event also threw up the most curious dinner conversation of the week. Take the mineral water company executive from Neath who regaled a group of distinguished fellow diners with stories of an excruciatingly painful lads' initiation ceremony down in the Valleys. All you need is a flaming glass of Drambuie which the brave locals then press on to their nipples to impress their mates. Could that explain why so many Welshmen can sing high notes? {{COUNTERPOINT }}