Sam Shaw is a reporter on Money Marketing
I had dinner on Wednesday with the inimitable Ian McKenna, director of Financial Technology Research Centre, at Wolfe’s, somewhere in between Holborn and Covent Garden. Apparently it used to be a club called Zanzibar back in the day. I can proudly say that I was not old enough to remember it the first time around. But from some of the stories, I kinda wish I was.
Having decided my run of bad luck needed to stop, clearly the gods felt differently. Although I was meant to be double-dipping between a session in the boxing ring with Close Investments and a pampering spa evening with Schroders, obviously that would be precisely the time that I fell ill with a stomach bug for two days.
However, it did mean that I was fully rested for the Money Marketing/ Cofunds Chinese dinner extravaganza that fell on Thursday evening. The lovely Daniella Sell and Messrs Lancaster, Conway and the ubiquitous Mr Eats treated the bulk of the MM team to a veritable Eastern delightOf course, the MM lot, never quite satisfied to call it a night at the end of, well, the night, insisted the party had to continue elsewhere. So we ended up in a bar.
Onto the more sobering affairs of the meeting of the minds. Owen James’ James Goad treated us to lunch at MM fave local casual lunch haunt Nordic bar, with a not very Scandinavian meal of fish and chips and a bottle of vino de blanco, where we discussed, obviously, the credit crunch and all our misguided lack of buying property in London 10 years ago, the steel-livered requirement of financial trade journalists and Paul McMillan’s and my joint penchant for local eateries.
Attempts to get Cofunds to stay out later than their bedtimes: several. They were having none of it.
Classic people-watching examples enjoyed in Soho on a Thursday night: enough to feel like spring is on its way.
Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalist
To the Andaz Hotel – the former Great Eastern in Liverpool Street which has had a makeover – for the HBOS mortgage writers’ dinner to hear wise words from the bank’s chief economist Martin Ellis. He seemed pretty upbeat despite the gloomy headlines on the newsstands.
PR person Carol Wright was wearing a particularly fetching pair of silver-framed spectacles, making her look like a cross between Madonna and the BBC’s Nick Robinson. Sadly, the glamorous glasses were not a fashion statement but the result of a wrestling match with her contact lenses, which she had lost in calamitous fashion, injuring an eye.
During dinner I was seated next to the very agreeable Joe Higgins, HBOS’s head of mortgages. This proved to be a great treat and he kept me amused with tales of a recent trip to Las Vegas with his family. He was also pretty sanguine about the current mortgage squeeze, describing the lenders who have wimped out of the market has having “left the table”, as if homeloans were a rather refined dinner party.
Also present at the dinner was Heather Scott, the bubbly PR for Intelligent Finance, who disclosed that she went to school with Chancellor Alistair Darling – no, not the fancy Loretto boys’ boarding school set in 85 acres of leafy campus in Musselburgh but the local primary school.
Earlier in the day, an email had pinged in from my Scottish chum IFA Bruce Latto of Scottish Financial, who tells me he has just launched www.retirementisa.co.uk to promote Isa saving as an alternative to the traditional pension plan route. Is everyone trying to dodge annuities, I wonder?
Then I was off to join a photo shoot with journalist colleagues Laura Howard and Simon Read, the latter better known as the People’s Money Editor, for a new column we are to write in a mortgage trade publication. An occasion that I thought would comprise half a dozen snaps taking about 20 minutes ended up with what seemed like 1,000 shots taking close on two hours. Lunch had to be postponed twice while the artist undertook his delicate work so we were practically chewing our arms off by the time we fell upon our food in nearby Hakkasan.
After that, we headed for the Long Bar at the Sanderson Hotel to partake of sticky cocktails. Simon returned to join us after taking a break from the festivities to take part in the judging of the Headline Money financial journalism awards, which are to be presented at the end of the month.
Number of luminous libations supplied to Simon Read to induce him to reveal the winner of the category he had been judging: many but his lips were sealed.
Esther Shaw is on holiday
Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Nicola York at email@example.com telephone: 020 7943 8042