The chairman tries to navigate his way through a series of black-tie evenings
Law suit? What law suit? No, no ' I've checked a number of times with the chairman of the insignificantly-sized investment company SmallBlue Planet and he says he has no plans to be in the vicinity of the Royal Courts of Justice any time soon.
You see, while the chairman has never been afraid of a little writ action as a sort of bargaining tool, he is extremely reluctant ever to let his lawyers make it all the way to the court entrance. Indeed the number of times this has happened can be counted on the fingers of one hand ' possibly even the hand of a short-sighted DIY enthusiast.
No, my observations today were merely going to centre on the way you can tell a lot about people from how they choose to progress their evenings after attending one of the black-tie raves now spreading through Her Majesty's financial services industry like un-spun foot and mouth.
Once the waiters start hinting it's time to move on by tipping one off one's chair, the forward planners retreat upstairs to their suites, the show-offs flaunt their membership of the newest clubs to the chosen few and I hear there are even people who actually go home to bed.
Traditionally the ladies will briefly adjourn to inspect any damage inflicted by the gropers that mistake awards dinners for rush hour on the Tokyo subway. And the selfless pros among the sales desks will reluctantly take those worst offenders off to places where they can pay to look ' although they might have their fingers broken if they touch. (Gropees may like to take note of such preventative measures).
And because I am not only genetically unable to leave a party early in case I miss anything but also phenomenally lazy, I prefer to hang around with those heading for the onsite bar that will stay open the latest.
Unfortunately such a policy when one has packed away the obligatory three courses at The Dorchester ' as I had just done at the AITC's annual dinner ' means eventually retreating downstairs to that stronghold of the sequin-clad Saga classes, The Dorchester Club. From a professional point of view, this is rarely of any more interest than finding out on what ' and on whom ' well-off pensioners are spending their income drawdown these days.
Admittedly last year it did afford me the pleasure of meeting an industry acquaintance who breathlessly informed me he had been getting on encouragingly with a stewardess. It seemed callous to point out he was set to do even better before the night was over ' wallet permitting ' the poor dear having confused air hostess with, well, just hostess.
I could hardly expect such fun two years running, which is why I was putting off my descent by lingering over a third bottle of Old Carpetbaggers port with the chairman of SmallBlue Planet, my host that evening.
We were still reflecting on the post-dinner speech by Ellen McArthur, the spiky-haired elf who recently sailed single-handedly round the world at the age of 24. 'Amazing feat of endurance,' muttered the chairman with what could have been mistaken for awe. 'Oh, I don't know,' I said. 'Did you see who she was sitting with at the AITC's top table during dinner? 'Now that's endurance for you. And as for amazing, I can't believe she kept a roomful of investment trust suits so quiet with her speech, Why I Love My Boat.
'It's the first time I've heard nobody with anything bad to say about an after-dinner speech. And the only heckling I heard was that bloke at the next table who kept muttering how a sinking ship was an appropriate choice for the AITC ' nobody had the heart to tell him that one of the key factors in Ms McArthur's success was the general lack of sinking.
'In fact, if I was looking for a relevant metaphor it would have to be Daniel Godfrey's long slog to keep the 'its' campaign on course.
'Even so ' if he hadn't changed tack in the last sentence of his own speech and said he was looking forward to steering the ship for a few more years, I could have sworn he was about to voluntarily walk the plank. Man overboard.'
'Still, any port in a storm, eh?' said the chairman inspecting his empty glass. 'Speaking of which I think it's time to head downstairs.'
Speaking at PA360 North
Speaking at PA360 North
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