The lunch involved a round-table discussion on the future of pensions and the effects of the recent FSA retail distribution review, led by chairman Geoffrey Pointon, who was in expansive mood. Personal accounts look like being a “tragedy in the making”, lamented NAPF chairman Robin Ellison, who reminded us of the revelation last year that the Japanese government had found itself with 50 million pension accounts, similar to those being proposed for us, dislocated from their owners because of computer shortcomings.
Shadow pensions minister Nigel Waterson, on the same theme, rather alarmingly quoted a line from the movie A Bridge Too Far: “Nothing like this has ever been done before.” He might as well have quoted the Ryan O’Neal character, Brigadier General Gavin, who unfortunately was not referring to pension reform when he said: “He’s got to be tough enough to do it and he’s got to be experienced enough to do it. Plus one more thing. He’s got to be dumb enough to do it … Start getting ready.”
Economist Roger Nightingale reminded us of the Marxist dictum that politics is defined by economics and the only way to solve the pension crisis – occasioned in the main part by increasing longevity – was to have us all working until our 70s or at least until the workers still in work were numerous enough to provide support for those who had stopped. But there was no need for gloom, as Chris Trill from GlaxoSmithKline, which is implementing a company-wide corporate Sipp, had the ultimate solution to the pension problem. The pharma company has been using Government models for forecasting the effects of avian flu and reckons we will not need to worry about retirement provision if 30 per cent of the population is wiped out.
On that cheery note, I was off to meet Anna Bowes, late of AWD Chase de Vere, who is freelancing in training those unfortunates about to set sail on the choppy seas of financial PR. We were joined at the Princess Louise in Holborn by Sunday Times columnist Bill Kay, who is madly doing the social rounds before returning to California.
Number of AWD Chase de Vere ejectees now in gainful employment: one (Sue Hannums, who joins the Abbey press office shortly).
Esther Shaw is a freelance financial journalist
First to the O2 arena, to watch the rather skimpily clad Girls Aloud shake their booty courtesy of the girl-band-loving Eon press office. While I made a valiant effort of trying to dance along to the Sounds of the Underground, I decided that, given the limitations of my crutches and my still relatively fat knee, I would be better off taking it steady at the back of the box with glowing mum-to-be Cara Ponton and leave the real boogie-ing to PR man, Nick “Something kind of ooh” Sandham.
On to Wednesday night, and a 5pm start to drinks with Rhizome PR’s likely lads Dominic “polecat” Hiatt and Jonny “I love British Military Fitness” Stevens at the Lab Bar on Old Compton Street.
The dangerous duo were introducing a choice selection of journalists (me and Laura Howard) to the press team from The Money Centre although it must have been quite a surreal introduction as I hobbled into the bar on crutches, only to find Laura showing off her recovering toenail (an injury sustained at the Headline Money Awards, after sitting down to talk to Lifesearch’s Matt Morris and somehow managing to put one of the chair legs – and all her weight – straight down on to her foot.)
I certainly did not help the situation by somehow managing to drop one of my crutches through the gap in the banister and all the way to the floor below as I stood up to leave.
Fortunately, no one was standing at the bottom of the stairs when the afore-mentioned crutch reached the bottom. Suffice to say the night only got more surreal as we moved on, first to the uber-cool bar at the St Martins Lane Hotel, where we managed to smash really rather a lot of champagne glasses and then to The International, where we indulged in a little “bar gymnastics”. Don’t ask.
Elsewhere this week, I was forwarded the link to a recent blog from Cobalt Capital’s super-dad, Andrew “Monty” Montlake, who made mention of my offer to be godmother to bouncing new baby, Rafi. However, as he followed this with the words “what could possibly go wrong?”, I can only assume that my application for this position is still under consideration.
Finally, I was amused to hear that several members of the Nationwide Building Society press office will be heading overseas for a hen do in a few weeks and that the inspired fancy dress theme is to be “Little Miss…”
While a certain blonde bombshell has been cast the title of Little Miss Splendid, the press office has yet to confirm whether there will be a Little Miss Late, a Little Miss Trouble and a Little Miss Dotty.
Reference to me as supergirl: one.
Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Helen Pow at firstname.lastname@example.org telephone: 020 7943 8038