During my many, happy, years in and around the leather industry I have witnessed many changes, some good, some bad and some startling. I have met a great many very interesting people and have been privileged to visit places which would be denied to most people.

My top favourite was staying at the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. This is not a place for tourists and normally only scientists get to stay there. So a big thanks to Don Ashley who organised it for me. I also received hospitality from Buckman Laboratories in Memphis where I got to visit Gracelands (very much for tourists).

I would also like to thank the SIC Group in Paris who made it possible for overseas guests attending the Semaine du Cuir to dine in exquisite surroundings such as the Chateaux de Versailles, L’Opera and Le Conciergerie. These are not places set up for wining and dining and the outside catering challenges must have been enormous. More recently there have been extremely enjoyable trips to Hyderabad courtesy of TFL and Mumbai with BASF.

Returning the real world, I am sorry to be bowing out at such a difficult time for the industry and wish with all my heart things were better. Another unfortunate clash of dates is on the cards this year as Tanning Tech, Simac and Lineapelle in Bologna, are set to be held from October 13-15 at virtually the same time as the biennial IULTCS Congress which is scheduled for October 11-14 in Beijing. The organizers of the IULTCS meeting deliberately chose early October in the belief that Lineapelle would be later in the month as in recent years, so the damaging overlap came as a complete shock to them.

They have my sympathy but I learned many years ago that exhibition organisers are at the mercy of the extremely powerful fairground and convention centre companies who decide just who and when industries may hold their shows. It is not the choice of the APLF to be held at the same time as the Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong which not only pushes up prices but makes it extremely difficult for exhibitors and visitors to find hotel accommodation and can also affect theavailability of airline seats. Aurevoir, we may meet again!