Security Forward Workshop & Virtual Cocktails - 30 April 2020 - Virtual Meeting

Thursday, 30 April 2020
By Christopher Smith

Thursday, 30 April, saw Security Forward and Intelligence Forum host its inaugural virtual meeting, co-chaired by Chris Smith. Given these extraordinary times, alternative measures were necessary, including but not limited to imbibing Crispin Black’s famous cocktail recipe.

Crispin shared a provocative and thoughtful presentation where he dealt with the “The Miracle Rescue”; the 1943 evacuation of Denmark’s Jews. We celebrated this extraordinary account of adversity and hope with an unusual "HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother”, or “HM Queen Elisabeth II”, cocktail. Traditionally the cocktail is had at the end of our meetings but Crispin, with admirable forethought, sent attendees the recipe in advance to partake over conversation - 1 part Gin and 2 parts Dubonnnet with ice and a twist of orange peel for the QEII, 2 parts Gin and 1 part Dubonnet with ice and a twist of orange peel for the Queen Mother. You may draw your own conclusions.

The agenda then moved on to Peter Fraser-Hopewell’s thoughts on covid-19 and the security implications of the pandemic. The discussion broadened out into current issues faced by members and replaced the traditional In-Tray discussions. Given the small size of the Group, the Co-Chairmen allowed this to continue.

Feedback was sought from the attendees and is summarised as follows:

  • Could we have an author join us if we need to meet via video-conferencing next time? Whilst we won’t have the benefit of receiving their book by having a video-conferencing meeting, we could still benefit from hearing from various authors on topics that are relevant to us all.
  • The question of hosting webinars: What would be the theme or themes? Whom would we target as an audience to attend the webinars? Would it be just Forum members or would we open it to others that are selected invitees [not guests of members] bearing in mind that we operate under Chatham House Rule? Webinars are overdone - they are everywhere and their value is sometimes questionable. The question of focus is key.
  • Despite the agenda, we didn’t stick to it and perhaps the round-robin of in-tray items works less well in this setting. The cocktail remains ever enjoyable and Crispin’s talk was extremely good as always.
  • The clunky nature of video-conferencing precludes the chat and relationship building which is the essence of Security Forward, plus the dinner and speaker who often has a book to offer. We still prefer the usual format and hope we can get together as normal next time. Missed the dinner and drinks bit.

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