MoD information officer Jonathan Spencer misses out on a trip to
India, but gets a rare night of unbroken sleep amid the news that 4,000
British troops are set to enter Afghanistan this weekend.
Monday 5 November
We take calls about the TA, suggesting it could become a National Guard
to protect civil installations, like in the US and France. It's an
Humour punctuates the repetition of an 'off the record' remark: if
anyone attacks during the TA's regular meeting times on a weekend or a
Tuesday night we'll be alright, then. I go to the House of Lords for a
debate, but it's hardly worth it since the lobby can be counted on one
Tuesday 6 November
A comms planning meeting at the Foreign Office, where the London
Coalition Information Centre (CIC) is to be based. It'll work as a hub
to pull together news information on a single database.
Key messages, statements, transcripts and media diaries will all be fed
in and updated, linking with centres in Washington and Islamabad.
Wednesday 7 November
I've been asked if I can go to India next week. Secretary of State Geoff
Hoon is visiting for bilateral talks and media are also travelling.
Press trips can come up, usually at short notice - and can disappear as
The Milky Bar Kid, 18 years after his starring role in that commercial,
has landed a job as admin support in MoD press office. We comment on the
power of commercials - we were fast remembering his starring role in
Thursday 8 November
I spent the morning checking on jabs and a typhoid boost.
But the India trip is cancelled, at least for me, as the media are now
not going. It is disappointing, but hopes are put on ice rather than
As far as media interest is concerned, a lull has set in, leaving me
with a welcome quiet night. We have a duty cabin for press office staff
to sleep in - it's comfortable enough when the phone isn't ringing.
Friday 9 November
Director of news Derek Plews chairs the morning meeting, which covers
overnight issues. It gives us a 'heads up' as to what the day might turn
into. Navy, Army and RAF add their updates and we go through the diary
and press cuttings for main stories.
Monday 12 November
New York City has just been hit by another horrific plane crash, leaving
this office numbed. Like everyone else, we're waiting for details with a
TV switched on. The phones are notably quiet.
Newsnight has dropped an interview with Hoon from Heathrow as its
running order changes.
Tuesday 13 November
Kabul has fallen overnight to the Northern Alliance. I was expecting
more calls but then, despite the significance, there is still much to do
on the wider issues.
Events are moving fast and meetings across Whitehall move up a gear as a
range of options is considered.