Rhodri Morgan on the tricky art of cabinet reshuffles
In the week that Carwyn Jones reshuffled his cabinet, Carl Roberts spoke to the first minister's predecessor, Rhodri Morgan, about the art of picking the Welsh government.
A pile of newspapers covers a coffee table, while a faithful old labrador patrols a room that was for a decade or so one of the nerve centres of Welsh politics.
I'm sitting in Rhodri Morgan's conservatory as the former first minister hands me a cup of coffee and tells me how in May 2003 he picked his cabinet in that very room.
At his side that night was the man who is now the Health Minister Mark Drakeford, and who for almost 10 years worked as one of Mr Morgan's special advisers.
End Quote Rhodri Morgan Former First Minister
I thought it was total secrecy, and then the pizza guy comes to the door and as I'm handing over the money, he says 'Oh, reshuffling your cabinet, are you?”
"You don't have your ministers in when you do the reshuffle, you have your special advisers in," said Mr Morgan.
"So funnily enough Mark Drakeford would have been right at the heart, sat around the kitchen table just the other side of the granite worktop just there," typically recalling every detail.
"It was in this room that we were in the middle of the reshuffle and I ordered some pizzas to help us get through it and trying to slot the different jobs and changing the portfolios around - not just the people - but changing the portfolios around and in total secrecy.
"Or at least I thought it was total secrecy, and then the pizza guy comes to the door and as I'm handing over the money he says 'Oh, reshuffling your cabinet are you?'
"So I thought there's no such thing as total secrecy in Wales - the pizza delivery people know what's up," he said.'Clear red water'
I'm sure Mr Morgan would remember what toppings he had ordered on the pizza, but I decide not to ask.
I am, however, looking for memories about the man with one of the key roles in Wales and who used to write the former first minister's speeches.
But Mr Morgan did not always read everything that was written on the page - no matter how well known his phrases became.
"The most famous speech he wrote for me was the 'clear red water' one and I never actually used the 'clear red water' expression.
"And the reason for that was that was that this speech was 55 minutes long - like most of Mark's - and I think the 'clear red water' phrase didn't show up in the speech until about the 52nd minute.
"By which time I could see the audience was getting very bored with what I was saying and were desperate to get on to the buffet which was waiting for them outside and so I just rushed through the last three pages and missed the 'clear' bit that I was supposed to say.
End Quote Rhodri Morgan on reshuffles
The reason that I didn't enjoy doing them was because it is so difficult to tell the people that you are letting go - to use the American phrase - that you are indeed letting them go, because it is a shattering blow to the individual concerned”
"Luckily we'd already briefed the press about it so that wasn't a problem," he said.
A decade on from his reshuffling days Rhodri Morgan can still remember how he felt when he had to make changes to his top team.
"I hated doing them, so probably looking back there was a case for me doing more rather than less.
"And the reason that I didn't enjoy doing them was because it is so difficult to tell the people that you are letting go - to use the American phrase - that you are indeed letting them go, because it is a shattering blow to the individual concerned.
"But you have to do it - but it really is difficult. It's a gut-wrenching experience not only for them but for you that's actually having to give them the message," he says.
It's a message he's had delivered to him - again in the same conservatory that he sits today. That was when Tony Blair failed to give him a Welsh Office job in the 1997 Labour government after his first landslide general election victory.'Part of life in politics'
"Obviously I'd been on the rough end of the stick in not getting a ministerial job at all vis-a-vis Tony Blair, again standing about three yards from where you are stood now".
However, he insisted that he did not consider ministerial departures from office as sackings "because they are part of life in politics".
He said: "Otherwise everybody would be like Methuselah; everybody would be 97 years old and still in the cabinet.
"There's got to be change. Even so, the press always reported it as sackings and that's very hurtful to the person and even more so to their family," said Mr Morgan.
But when he did not to replace ministers, it would be in a more formal setting than his conservatory.
"You didn't do it down the Bay - much too public. You wouldn't do it here obviously, this is my home, so you would do it in [the Welsh government building in] Cathays Park.
"So they would be in Cathays Park and they were either going to get the same job, a new job or no job. So they'd called in and you'd have to give them the bad news.
"There were no tears. I don't remember any tears because people who are in politics [have] all got reasonably thick skins... they knew it could happen," he said.
Fortunately for Mr Morgan he decided himself when he would leave the government when he stepped down in December 2009.
The Politics Show Wales is on on BBC1 Wales from 11:00 GMT on Sunday.