One useful and enjoyable annual
event put on for organisers is the Speaker Drinks evening staged at the
Institute of Directors venue on Pall Mall by speaker agency Performing
This showcases stand-up
comedians and their acts and allows plenty of time for delegates to network
with, and perhaps book their chosen performer(s) The latest event presented
five, four who made us laugh and one who made us laugh and think. Andy Parsons,
well-known from his appearances on topical news show Mock the Week, told jokes
about topical issues, including the current bad joke Brexit, (he is an activist
for a second public vote on the issue) and introduced the other four stand-up
specialists, including Markus Birdman, Naomi Cooper and George Lewis, all of
whom went down well with the mostly female audience.
Tourism chiefs at VisitScotland
used a picture of a Glencoe cottage once owned as a holiday home by disgraced
BBC celebrity and sex offender Jimmy Savile, to promote tourism in the
Savile is thought to have
sexually abused more than 450 people over a 60-year period, over 300 of them
under 18 and some as young as eight. He owned the cottage for 13 years, from
1998 to 2011 when he died without ever being caught or charged aged 84. It was
featured in a highly regarded Louis Theroux documentary in 2000, When Lous
met….Jimmy. In a van on the way back from Glencoe Theroux asks why Savile had
claimed to the media that he hated children and Savile told him “It’s to
put a lot of salacious tabloid people off the hunt”. As the couple said
goodbye Theroux claimed that he had “a new-found respect for Jimmy”
though he felt he, like most other people, had never got close in the week he
had lived with him for the documentary.
At Savile’s death the leader of
Leeds City Council, Councillor Keith Wakefield described Savile as “Leeds
born and bred, and he remained a Leeds lad all his life”.
VisitScotland have now removed
the shot of Savile’s cottage from their website, “in case it caused any
Plans are being considered for The
Entertainment Resort, a world-class theme park with supporting hotels
containing conference space, as well as cinemas, nightclubs and restaurants.
This would be on the Swanscombe
Peninsula in Kent and just across the Thames from Tilbury.
A recent tasting of nearly 100
wines from Italy, organised on behalf of Italian wine expert Daniele Cermilli
(who styles himself Doctor Wine), provided us with tastings of wines from the
Velenosi winery in the Marche area.
This produces an excellent medium
dry white for drinking with food that the good doctor rates with a 92% score in
his highly regarded “Essential Guide to Italian wine” (2019) and this
is the Verdiccho dei Castellidi Jesi DOC 2017, which is also flagged as
exceptionally good value and should be selling retail for around £16 a bottle.
Rather more expensive is the
red Roggio Del Filare Rosso Piceno Superiore DOC 2015, not rated by Cemilli.
This is likely to be £50+ to buy here but is the Winery’s “Grand Cru”
and, for our personal taste delivered a lovely creamy sweetness of red berry
fruit that trickled seductively down the throat and dared us to spit it out, or
ruin it with food.
The importer for Velenosi is
Dolcevita Wines, Web: dolcevitawines.co.uk
The 187 bedroom Hotel Indigo
has opened close to Victoria Station in Manchester and claims to bring its
brand of “contemporary Bohemian chic” (The Business Desk).
Double rooms start at £100.
This is the ironic title of the
latest, and arguably the best of the bios of the famous and infamous author,
playwright and bon viveur Oscar Wilde, who made up a story to tell his
children, which he called The Happy Prince.
The story of Oscar’s fall from
grace for his homosexuality has been well documented on film, starting with the
two released in 1959 and 1960, These were the black and white Oscar Wilde,
starring Robert Morley in the title role, Alexander Knox as his defence lawyer
Sir Edward Clarke, Ralph Richerdson as the prosecuting counsel, Sir Edward
Carson, John Neville as Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas
and Edward Chapman as his father, the irascible Marquis of Queensbury, who
wasn’t happy with his son sleeping with Wilde and outed him by calling him a
“somdomite” (sic) and sparking the libel case bought by Wilde that
resulted in a win for Queensbury when he was able to call witnesses and defend
his allegation as true.
Bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) have been fined £2.2 million by the Gambling Commission for failing to carry out proper checks on money wagered.
One instance was a total of
£894,754 stolen and wagered over a four year period from charity Birmingham
Dogs Home by its CEO Simon Price, with the help of his wife Alayna. Price was
given a five year prison sentence last year and his wife received a two year
suspended sentence. PPB will now pay the stolen money back to the charity.
As part of the fine PPB will
pay £1.7 million to charity Gamble Aware, nearly £500,000 to other victims –
problem gamblers they allowed to carry on betting with them – and £50,000 for
the costs of the investigation.
Mike Betts, CEO of Motability
Operations a firm supplying disabled people with vehicles in exchange for their
taxpayer funded benefits has announced that he will now heed the multiple calls
for him to step down and will do so in 2020.
His announced departure follows
a damning report on the way the company has hoarded huge reserves of the
taxpayer cash paid to it and the “obscenely high” salaries and
bonuses, nearly £3 million including a covered up £2 million in Betts case,
paid to its directors. It also follows some seriously good investigative
journalism by the Daily Mail newspaper.
The Motability charity was set
up by Lord Sterling, who is now its chairman. Sterling was also chairman of
P&O when it owned venue Earls Court and Olympia and was investigated by the
Monopolies and Mergers Commission for abuse of monopoly by overcharging
exhibitors there, a highly lucrative activity Sterling fought hard to, and
failed to, retain. At this time some publications were infested by unfortunate
typographical gremlins that rendered his name, most misleadingly, as Lord
Criticism of Diabetes UK has
followed their decision to accept £500,000 in sponsorship from Britvic, makers
of the fizzy drinks Tango and Pepsi, which the charity has identified as
contributing to the current diabetes epidemic.
Doctors have described the
arrangement as “appalling” and as undermining trust in the charity
from sufferers of the disease, as well as losing the charity credibility.
There have been calls for the
charity’s CEO Chris Askew to give the money back. The funding policy for
Diabetes UK states: “No commercial partnership will be entered into with a
company whose product or service is considered to be detrimental to those
living with, or at risk of diabetes.”
Gambling addiction charities
have attacked the £265 million salary that founder and joint CEO of online gambling
firm bet365 Denise Coates CBE pays herself as “disgraceful” and
Recent articles in the press
have listed the misery caused by gambling debts, and the rising number of
suicides as a result, as the “terrible price paid” to fund Coates’s income,
which makes her one of the highest paid women in the world.