DIARY: Haines' joking leaves Woodford speechless

It was a stomach-churner of an experience - the sort of thing that is guaranteed to turn your face the colour of a bed sheet in a Daz commercial. And it happened to Stephen Woodford.

The place: London's Savoy Hotel. The occasion: A lunch to mark the WCRS chief executive's inauguration as the new IPA president.

Adland's finest were awaiting his announcement of The Next Big Thing and Woodford was determined not to disappoint. Little did he know as he rose to his feet that he was about to face his first presidential crisis.

No speech. Not on the podium. Not underneath it. Not anywhere.

Just he was resigning himself to having to deliver the account man ad-lib of his career, the cavalry arrived. Enter stage left the outgoing president, Bruce Haines, with a mile-wide, though sheepish, grin and dangling Woodford's speech notes between thumb and forefinger - he'd inadvertantly snaffled them after his handover speech.

The new prez was quick to get his own back, though, reminding his audience that Rupert Howell, Haines' predecessor, had boasted he was handing over leadership of an industry in the best possible shape. And we all know what happened in Haines' tenure, don't we? "Thanks, Bruce," Woodford said.

In Haines' valedictory address he recalled how, when approached to do the job by John Bartle, he said he would agree as long as he could change some things about the IPA that irritated him. "If you're the president, you can do what you bloody well like," Haines said, mimicking Bartle's trademark Leeds accent.

"Sounds nothing like me," Bartle huffed from a nearby table.

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