Tony Blair has his audience in splits

November 22nd, 2008 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Lehman BrothersNew Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) From taking a swipe at the English cricket team to admitting how tech unsavvy he was, former British prime minister Tony Blair had the large audience at the HT Leadership summit in splits at various stages of his 30-minute address here Saturday.It began with a reference to India’s successful moon shot.

“By the way, congratulations on joining the elite club of nations in space! That must have given you almost as much satisfaction at beating the Australians at cricket - and one other country that I shall not name,” Blair said with a self depreciating smile as the audience erupted into loud laughter.

His reference was to the England one-day team that is trailing 0-3 in the seven match series against India. Before this, India had beaten Australia 2-0 in the four match home Test series.

Blair then trained his guns on himself.

“Do you know that I got my first cell phone on the day after I left office? I had never texted before. I sent this text to a friend and how was I to know my name wouldn’t appear if I didn’t put it in? I get back a text saying: ‘Who is this?’

“And I said to myself: It’s been only 24 hours (since I left office),” Blair related.

There was more in the same vein, as he related a tale about his youngest son Leo, aged eight, and Leo’s best friend in school, who has an Indian father.

“We stand, as we did the other morning, in the school playground waiting for the day’s lessons to begin. He has educated Leo about cricket. He has bestowed on me a relentless and seemingly inexhaustible supply of Indian jokes.

“I have an uneasy feeling these may be deeply, politically incorrect; so I won’t repeat any,” Blair said.

The global meltdown was next on Blair’s radar and he related an incident as he prepared to leave for the airport for a flight to New York Sep 16, the day Lehman Brothers collapsed.

“Suddenly, a financial institution in America that no one in the UK, apart from City people, had ever heard of, was dominating the news in every corner of England. As I got into the car to the airport, a man recognised me, stopped me, and said: ‘Here, who are these brothers anyway?’”

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