I was talked into the complicated wager – which probably saved me money in the long run – by Abbey’s amiable head of banking Steve Shore, who extended his largesse to a lift home. Steve was, however, dismayed to discover that a colony of ants had set up home in the car – which made for a lively journey.
Further entertainment came from Abbey’s PR-ette Lara Lipsey, who regaled us with her mother’s casserole recipe, which she was relaying to her husband over the phone. I remember “low and slow rather than hot and fast” came into the cooking instructions somewhere and Shore and I tried to keep straight faces as it seemed impolite to interrupt such intimacies between husband and wife.
On Monday, I attended the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy courtesy of Insight Investment. Richard Janes was there in a private capacity as a guest rather than wearing his usual hat of PR for the HBOS investments division, so we were able to compare notes on the particularly yummy canapés as well as the artworks on the walls.
On Tuesday, I spent a very agreeable evening at the Royal Festival Hall hearing a piano recital by Maurizio Pollini as the guest of Fidelity PR David Butcher. It turns out the personable Butcher has a small child called Balian, which I learn is the name of the knight crusader who negotiated the end of the siege of Jerusalem in 1187. More immediately, the name was made famous by the Orlando Bloom character in the film Kingdom of Heaven. Oh well, at least they did not call the little lad Legolas Greenleaf after Bloom’s character in Lord of the Rings.
On Wednesday, I was off to the Queen’s Club to catch an eyeful of Artois tennis with Skipton’s new PR chief Jason Clarke. Under happily sunny skies, Andy Roddick beat Robby Ginepri while the “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal, playing his first match of the grass court season, knocked spots off Jonas Bjorkman and Novak Djokovic snatched victory from Roko Karanusic. After Pimms on the terrace and lamentations over Clarke’s absence from the Chelsea Flower Show hospitality tent this year since his departure from HBOS, the broad-shouldered flower fancier used his legendary rugby skills to tackle Britain’s Andy Murray’s and ask him to autograph his ticket.
Events regrettably missed this week: two (the Polhill Poker event, as I was double-booked at the Royal Academy, and the Lifesearch quiz because I was unwell).
Esther Shaw is a freelance financial journalist
First to Bertorelli’s on Mincing Lane in London to join a selection of luscious Lansonettes for a late lunch in which we talked protection, pensions and parties over antipastis, pastas and pecorino.
During our conversation, it transpired that while I have long been jealous of tales of the free-flowing “snack cupboard” at the St John’s Street offices, even this award-winning agency has not escaped the clutches of the credit crunch as there is now a padlock on the door of the gingerbread house. Tough times, my friends, tough times.
Elsewhere this week, I hobbled across London to join my old Sindie sidekick Sam “man-bag” Dunn and select members of the Halifax press office in the hotel restaurant of 2 Bridge Place in Victoria for a spot of light refreshment ahead of an evening at Billy Elliot. Host Richard “could it be magic” Janes of HBOS Investments informed me that this was his second attendance at a musical in as many days as he had spent the previous night hosting a lively gathering of PF’s finest at the all-singing all-dancing Take That extravaganza Never Forget.
That said, despite being one of the few males in an otherwise female-heavy party, Richard was not ashamed to admit he had really rather enjoyed it. Post-show, the four of us moved on to the pub next door, where a certain member of the assembled company (er…Carol “snakey-b” Wright) insisted on buying a round of snakebite and black (that’s half-cider, half-lager with a dose of blackcurrant to the uninitiated) as we tried hard to ignore the couple who were getting really rather cosy on the table next to us.
As closing time approached, we all far too quickly agreed to head on for “one final drink” at the Stag, a bar just a few yards from Victoria Station. As “one” turned into “more than one”, I made the executive decision at 2am (given that I had a ridiculously early flight to catch the next morning) that we would settle the debate over whether to “go home or do shots” with the toss of a coin.
I was secretly rather relieved when the coin came up tails, which meant we could all go home, not before, I must add, looking down to see both Sam and Richard crawling around the floor of the club on all fours in an attempt to find the £1 coin that had been accidentally dropped by Miss Wright. The mind boggles.
Finally, congratulations must go to The People’s Simon “poker face” Read who, I am told, swept to victory in the first-ever Polhill Poker tournament after a gruelling final against Polhill’s own Michael Smith and Gug Kyriacou.
Number of £1 coins found by Sam and Richard: none.
Number of extra pounds in Mr Read’s wallet on the way home from the poker tournament: £500.
Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Nicola York at nicola.york@ centaur.co.uk telephone: 020 7943 8042