Labour Party conference virgin Dan Stewart bumps into Gordon striding to "conference" and has a bit of a "West Wing" moment

The first day of the Labour Party conference – or "conference" as we are encouraged to call it, dropping the definite article out of sheer importance – saw my first "West Wing" moment.

I was hurrying through the centre trying to get to the press room before Brown started his speech. TV screens everywhere showed the prime minister slowly walking up the hill with his wife Sarah. I was able to track his progress as I rushed past queues of excited delegates. “Thank God,” I thought, “I’ll be on time.”

I rolled around the corner only to see GB walk through the conference entrance in front of me. The TV picture had become flesh. Now I was able to track his progress for real. “Thank you,” he drawled in my general direction. You’re welcome, Gord.

"Conference" is a surreal experience for the first-time hack. Everywhere, ministers mingle with delegates, and grandees sup with voters. Douglas Alexander and Nigel Griffiths have already been whisked past me by harassed-looking aides. Nick Raynsford stopped for a chat. The chief executive of Greenpeace asked me for a tissue. (I didn’t have one, but shouldn’t he be using a handkerchief? For shame!)

I dropped in on the RIBA, who are hosting a series of "Ask an Architect" sessions giving people advice on how to design a sustainable house. I’ll be talking to Sunand Prasad and Terry Farrell tomorrow, so perhaps I’ll pass on some of that advice via this blog.

Gordon’s speech went down well here, though it remains to be seen exactly what these much-heralded eco-towns will contain. Word is an official announcement is expected soon, but until then we’ll have to dream what Gordon’s brave new green world will look like.

Presumably it will look nothing like the press room during the opening seconds of the PM’s speech. A lily-livered press officer was dispatched to hand out copies to the press scrum, whose shoving and grunting made the All Blacks pack look like a children’s party. Now that’s an area of party politics the West Wing doesn’t show…