AVALANCHE KILLS 29 AT ITALIAN HOTEL
A series of earthquakes and heavy snowfall triggered an avalanche in Abruzzo region, Southern Italy, which destroyed the four-star Hotel Rigopiano, killing twenty-nine and injuring eleven.
The avalanche hit in the afternoon of January 18 and was said to comprise a total of 60,000 tonnes of snow, ice, rocks and uprooted trees travelling at 60 mph.
Investigations are taking place into the failure of the Italian authorities to respond quickly to the reports of the avalanche, and whether the hotel was built on the debris of previous avalanches taking the same route down the mountainside.
DEATH BY DRONE COMING UP?
It is a sobering fact that the huge increase in the number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's or drones) in our skies - one million sold in 2015 and growing - has also increased the chances of your passenger jet being brought down by one being flown too close to an airport, or flight path, either through total stupidity or deliberate malice.
According to the UK Airprox Board there were 13 near misses of drones and passenger jets using Heathrow airport in 2016, nearly four times the number in 2015, with 10 of the incidents being graded category A, meaning "Serious risk of collision". Some have been caused by drones being used to capture "cool" close-up views of aircraft taking off and landing, these shots then being posted proudly by their lethally stupid takers on the internet.
Those making and selling drones enjoy the money from the rise in drone-use from many sectors, not least our events sector where they have been used to capture aerial views of venues, weddings and sports events, so there are clearly valuable commercial applications of the technology for some.
Question is how long it will be before serious risk of collision becomes an actual aircraft crash, perhaps into a highly populated area, and our authorities then start to wonder whether the minor benefits of enhanced views are worth the major cost of a tragedy.
UNI RISKED STUDENT LIVES WITH MISTAKE
Northumbria University in Newcastle has been fined £400,000, plus £26,468 costs after it mistakenly gave a toxic dose of caffeine powder to two male sports science students who had volunteered for a test to measure the effect of caffeine on exercise in 2015.
The test dose was supposed to be 0.3g, or 3 times the amount of 0.1g in a cup of coffee. However the students were given 30g, or 100 times too much and both were hospitalised and lost more than 20 pounds in weight.
The university told Newcastle crown court that is was 'genuinely sorry' for what was 'an isolated event'. Both students have recovered but are pursuing a civil action against the university.
o A wedding rehearsal for a £25,000 ceremony in the Cuban resort of Playa Esmerelda was interrupted when the roof of the lobby of the four-star Sol Rio De Luna y Mares hotel collapsed, trapping the bride and groom under the debris. The couple, both of whom suffered injuries, are suing tour operator Thomas Cook.
o Nearly a hundred Britons, including two wedding parties, are suing the Marelen Hotel on the Greek Ionian island of Zakynthos (Zante) after they became ill with the Cryptosporidium stomach parasite. Contamination of the swimming pool was blamed by the guests for the outbreak last August.
WAR OVER WAR OFFICE
Plans to turn the vast War Office on London's Whitehall into a £1 billion five-star hotel and 88 apartments complex by 2020 have been met with opposition from more than 30 objectors who say the plans to alter it will "mutilate" the Grade II listed "masterpiece of Edwardian architecture" The plans include the adding of three additional floors.
The building comprises 580,000 square feet of space, with two miles of corridors linking 1,100 rooms and was sold by the Ministry of Defence last year for £350 million to the Hinduja Group, a huge London-based Indian conglomerate employing 72,000 people, and Spanish construction group OHL which operates in 30 countries.
TWO CHANGING HANDS
Two UK conference venues are currently changing hands (Business Desk)
In Blackpool the historic 180-bedroom four-star Imperial Hotel, with 14 conference rooms for up to 600, has been sold to an un-named buyer for £10 million+
And in Berkswell, West Midlands the 49-bedroom Nailcote Hall Hotel, Golf and Country Club, which has five function rooms for up to 180 and a 9-hole championship golf course, has just come onto the market for an un-named asking price.
PENNY LANE HOTEL FOR SALE
The 17-bedroom Penny Lane Hotel in Penny Lane, Liverpool is up for sale at £950,000
The sellers, Christie and Co., are stretching the Beatles connection to breaking point, gushing that the hotel, as well as bearing the name of 1967 Beatles song, is close to some Beatle's childhood homes, the Beatles Story museum and the (newly re-built) Cavern Club.
What Christies are not telling prospective buyers is that Penny Lane was named in honour of a seriously vile piece of 18th century work called James Penny, a slave-ship owner and operator who made his fortune, and derived his power in Liverpool from capturing male and female West Africans, 600 at a time, and transporting them for forced labour on plantations in the West Indies. Penny had no sense of shame about how he was making his fortune, describing the enslavement as "humane", fighting abolition of his meal ticket and wrongly predicting the collapse of Liverpool if it was taken away.
In 2006 it was proposed by Liverpool councillor Barbara Mace to change the names of all Liverpool streets named in honour of slavers (Bold Street, Blackburn Place, Cropper Street, Parr Street, Penny Lane, Roscoe Street, Sir Thomas Street, Tarleton Street) but the plan was withdrawn on the basis that it was wrong to "airbrush negative parts of history".
To the annual Performing Artistes Speaker Drinks showcase at the IOD, London, where we mingle with the likes of the elegant dancer John Sergeant and Gerald Ratner, the retail jeweller who cleverly described some of his products as "crap" at the IOD many years ago and thus launched himself into a lucrative speaking career as his shops closed.
However the main entertainment was the showcasing of four young comedians on the company's books, all looking for corporate and conference work Eshaan Akbar had a likeable, self-deprecating approach, Paul Sinha claimed to be the only openly gay comedian on the circuit, (was he joking?) Tom Ward did a bitingly accurate Jools Holland impression and Tiff Stevenson made friends with her digs at Donald Trump, all in all an enjoyable way for organisers to evaluate some up-and coming talent.
TWO IN SCARBOROUGH
The Scarborough Art Gallery makes an interesting visit for those, like Victorian artist William Etty, who appreciate the beauty of ladies without much on. Such as in his Judgement of Paris work hanging there whereby the coveted golden apple inscribed "To the Fairest" is given by Paris to a lovely, svelte, if rather smug Aphrodite, who looks as if she knew she was always going to win over her more curvy rivals. Complementing this is the Rose of Youth, a large and more modern work, recently restored, and by Herietta Roe featuring a flame-haired, teenage. pre-raphaelite temptress seated naked on a throne with a headband of roses and with the floor strewn with pink oleander flowers, actually toxic and, sobering thought, a symbol of death for other artists.
Moving through there are some excellent examples of local views by Yorkshire artist John Atkinson Grimshaw, who painted moonlight and night scenes beautifully and whose 1886 work, The Burning of the Spa Saloon contrasts the fierce red flames from the conflagration at Scarborough Spa with the peaceful pale yellow moonlight in the sky, and reflected on the calm sea. Perhaps every Scarborough delegate should take home a copy, and reflect that the figures shown on the cliff path above the Spa are said to be Grimshaw's own wife and two children watching the blaze. More gentle, and just as evocative is Grimshaw's 1877 Scarborough Lights, depicting the peaceful harbour at dusk with the town behind and the huge bulk of the Grand Hotel overlooking, and there are some fine depictions of wrecks in Scarborough harbour by Robert Roe, some also featuring the Grand.
The gallery has event spaces for 60 seated or 100 for a reception and is part of the Scarborough Museums Trust, which includes the nearby Rotunda Museum with similar capacities.
Tel 01723 384509 www.scarboroughmuseumstrust.com
Though some may find this exuberant 1944 musical as corny as Kansas in August there's no denying that it's a feel-good dancing treat dished up by some of Hollywood's finest, pairing the skills and style of bill-topping beauty Rita Hayworth, 24 at the time, with the athletic choreography of balletic Gene Kelly, an energetic 32, and the affable humour of Phil Silvers, himself no mean hoofer at 33.
Hayworth plays a chorus girl at Kelly's Brooklyn nightclub, with Kelly and Silvers as loving friends, who gets to feature on a magazine cover because she looks just like the publisher's lost love, actually her grandmother, also played by Hayworth in the flash-backs. After this valuable exposure Broadway and a rich theatre-owner who wants to marry her beckons and Hayworth sings and dances her way to stardom, with her songs in the film dubbed by talented singer Martha Mears who was also the singing voice of Hedy Lamarr, Veronica Lake, Lucille Ball and others. While she is away Kelly stages the fabulous dance with his alter-ego sequence, all done with trick photography and superimposition to give his reflection a ghost-like quality, and an early sign of the talent that would culminate in Singing in the Rain eight years later. This was voted number one in the Nation's Favourite Dance Moment, and apparently performed by him when he was running a fever temperature of 103 For those who love a happy ending Hayworth realises just in time, aided by some alcohol and some harsh truths, that the theatre-owner is not for her and runs away from the wedding to go back to Kelly and Brooklyn. All together now...
Cover Girl is being released in a Dual -format Blu-ray and DVD edition on February 13 by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema series. Directed by Charles Vidor as Columbia's first Technicolor musical, a format that looks especially good on the high-definition Blu-ray presentation. There is also an interview on Cover Girl with Australian film director, screen writer and producer Baz Luhrmann and a 28-page booklet featuring new writing on the film.
February 22-23 2017 Business Travel Show Olympia, London
April 12-13 2017 Venue Expo EICC Edinburgh
OLD GRITS DIARY
Interesting to read about the railway fare anomaly that Virgin Trains have on their West Coast route. Apparently passengers travelling from Lancaster to London pay a fare of £92.20, whereas if they get on the same train at Preston, 25 miles closer to London they pay £356, or £264 more for the shorter and more popular journey.
One Blackpool resident taking full and perfectly legal advantage recently was businessman Steve Morrissey, 32, who got on at Lancaster with his legal £92.20 ticket and was later accused by ticket collectors, in front of other passengers in the crowded carriage, of getting on at Preston and thus defrauding their employer, the lovable and deserving Sir Richard Branson, a big UK supporter who lives in the Caribbean, out of £264. Sir Dick's finest, surely on commission for lost revenue recovered, refused to believe him and gave him the choice of paying another £356 to get to London or being fined for his "offence".
Sensibly Mr Morrissey refused either option and was met at Euston by the British Transport Police, the misnamed group of revenue protectors that should deal with the public impartially if they want to be regarded as proper "police", who took Morrissey away for questioning, and only believed he had not committed fraud when their own CCTV at Lancaster station showed him getting on the train there.
Old Grit remembers an incident a few years back when he was accused by a female tube train driver of assaulting her at Earls Court station, until CCTV showed she was lying. (Wonder why OG has no sympathy for greedy train drivers and their strikes?)
Seems we need more people like Mr Morrissey and less employees of Virgin Trains. Perhaps he could get some witnesses together and sue Virgin Trains for their slanderous defamation of character?
Also fascinating is the experience of Lucy Yallop, 32, who took a miniature of vodka on an easyJet flight from Newcastle to Alicante, and tried to slip it into an orange juice she bought on the flight.
This is, of course against easyJet's rules, which they say are to protect all passengers from drunks, but that many suspect is as much about protection of revenue on sales of alcohol. Otherwise they could ban the drinking of alcohol on board, which has double the effect at 30,000 feet than on the ground, and thereby stop selling it to people who may have had a skinful before even boarding the plane, but are hiding it well.
Yallop paid a high price for her hidden tipple, being escorted off the plane at Alicante and delivered to the Spanish Police, who shrugged when they saw she wasn't drunk and let her go. EasyJet, perhaps being bad losers, then banned her from her flight home, forcing her to book with a different airline.
Obviously easyJet rightly have to protect themselves and their passengers from the idiots, this including some of our much-admired celebrities, who just want to drink themselves stupid and cause possibly life-threatening trouble, but doesn't their rather two-faced approach to alcohol consumption smack of sanctimonious hypocrisy?
A survey of 20,000 restaurant-goers by AA Hotel and Hospitality Services in The Caterer magazine shows that more than half of them felt awkward about tipping because of worries about where the money charged as "service" actually goes.
This follows revelations in the press that some chains such as Pizza Express, Strada, Zizzi, Giraffe and Ask have not been passing "service charges", either partially or completely onto their service staff. Also accused has been Harrods, and Michael Roux of Michelin-starred Le Gavroche has admitted pocketing the 13% service charge he levies on his £200 meals.
Old Grit can only urge diners who feel strongly about the subject to enquire about the policy before making a booking. Another useful course is to ask the waiting staff to remove the optional service charge so that you can give them a cash tip - you'll rarely be refused…
o Those who like the taste of barbecued and smoked meats are spoiled for choice at the informal American-style Red's True Barbecue restaurants where more than 40 combinations of pork, chicken or beef are on offer, some with a 16-hour smoke time and all smoked fresh on the day.
Burgers with chips and tomato, onion and pickles start at £8.95, and go up to £16.95, with the some who like it hot catered for with the Juicy Lucifer, which warns of the "MOLTEN HOT LAVA INSIDE". Sandwiches run from £5.95 for a basic pulled pork to £10.95 for a beef brisket, smoked sausage and pulled pork version, all served with lots of trimmings. For those who like a lot more a full rack of baby back pork ribs is £14.95 (half rack £9.50), a 600 gm serving of beef long ribs is £18.95 and a half smoked sticky chicken is £12.95 And those who enjoy a trip down the combo road have various combination options up to a full-on Feast comprising three types of pork, two types of beef, chicken and sausage, all served with buttermilk coleslaw, cornbread, giant onion rings, chopped salad, skin-on fries for a minimum of four people paying £18.95 each, including a slug of American bourbon for each diner.
Red's True Barbecues also sell some of their sauces and other ingredients for diners to enjoy at home and have branches in Headingley, Leeds, Liverpool (the one we tried) Manchester, Newcastle (new), Nottingham, Sheffield and Shoreditch, London
o One fine-dining location that accepts the Tastecard discount dining card for half price food is Tuttons in Covent Garden.
Here we recently enjoyed a substantial tapas-style lunch made up of three starters, all charged at half price. First up was some of the tastiest onion soup we've had, this one made from mild white onions laced with sweet Somerset cider and served with a strong and tangy Montgomery cheddar cheese on toast. (£6.25/£3.12) This we followed with some soft and tender pan-fried squid served with a colourful medley of Mediterranean vegetables - whole cherry tomatoes, big slices of red and yellow peppers, red onions and green courgettes, all cooked till meltingly soft and drizzled with pistou dressing, the tasty blend of basil, garlic, tomatoes, grated cheese and olive oil. (£7.95/£3.98) To complement this we chose the wild mushrooms in a truffle sauce on a crispy, crusty sourdough bread and served with baby cress and a real treat of a soft poached egg deep fried in crispy beer batter (£7.25/£3.62)
When the bill came we were pleased to see that Tuttons refrained from the usual Tastecard trick of slapping a percentage service charge on the full amount before halving it, thereby doubling a 10% service charge to 20%. With Tuttons the service charge is an any case optional with the amount left to diners so for the honesty and straight dealing becoming rarer in London restaurants these days we gave a more generous cash tip.
Tuttons lunch menu offers thirteen starters from £6.25 to £18, seven mains from £14.95 - £21.95, six fish and shellfish dishes from £16.50 - £18, four 28-day aged beef steaks from £24.95 - £32, one 28 oz Cote de Boeuf for two at £77 and seven salads, pastas and risottos from £7.50 - £8.95 as starter portion or £14.95 - £16.95 for a main. In addition there are ten side dishes and a selection of desserts, as well as a daily special - the day we visited was roast partridge for £18.
For private dining Tuttons can accommodate up to 200 on the ground floor, 85 on the outside piazza and 20/30 in two basement rooms.
o One Italian trattoria that advertises itself as "A little taste of Amalfi" is the little Trattoria Italiana da Franco, tucked away in a side street in Harpenden, and we can vouch for the credibility of the claim, having recently stooped for a one-course lunch there.
This is run by Anna, and Franco who does the cooking, and who comes out of the kitchen to see customers personally who want something not on the menu, or on the daily specials list, describing the dishes and showing the pasta to be used. There are also special offers at discounted prices from the main menu and our partner enjoyed an authentic meat lasagna for £6.70. We were wooed and then wowed by Franc's short pasta with king prawns, porcini mushrooms and courgette in a creamy pesto sauce for £11.20
There are thirteen starters and fourteen other main course pastas and risottos on the menu, including some we are going back for, such as the penne with Italian meatballs (£8.30), the tagliatelle with venison ragu (£10.40) the linguini with clams, mussels, squid and king prawns (£12.80) and the lobster linguini (£18.90) There are also some main courses we'd like to try, such as the chicken breast with lemon (£7.30), the fillet steak with pepper and balsamic vinegar (£18.80) and the oven cooked lamb with potatoes (£9.60), and that's without desserts such as Franco's homemade ice cream at £4.80, or his homemade cakes.
Franco can also handle groups for private dining and put on a special bespoke menu from his extensive repertoire
VENUE CRITERIA SURVEY
The SEO is carrying out an on-going survey to identify what criteria in venue selection are most important to event organisers from the corporate, association and charity sectors.
Results will be published in the Event Organisers Update, Charity Matters and Marketing Matters newsletters.
Click here to take our survey.
Sensible new legislation makes it an offence to operate a drone within 10 miles of an airport or flight path, punishable with up to 20 years in prison, Near-misses plummet, as aircraft don't… Organisers using the University of Northumbria in Newcastle are assured that the coffee served has definitely not been laced with extra caffeine, to enhance delegate performance… Penny Lane, Liverpool is changed to "SLAVER STREET (formerly Penny Lane)" The Penny Lane Hotel goes up for sale again… Virgin Trains are successfully sued for defamation of character in a class action bought by more than 500 passengers against Virgin revenue protection inspectors falsely accusing them of fraud in front of witnesses secretly filming the incidents on their mobile phones. A compilation of these gets millions of hits on U-Tube. Sir Richard Branson sells his island home Neckar to pay the £multi-billion fine… EasyJet reveal how much profit they would lose if they banned all on-board alcohol, both served and "duty-free" for the safety of all their passengers… Diners are urged to look for the new NTRO (No Tip Rip-Off) stickers on the windows of restaurants being honest about service charges… and much, much more…
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SEO SUPPLIERS DIRECTORY
o AUDIO VISUAL AND IT COMPANIES
EXHIBITIONS & LIVE EVENT AUDIO VISUAL SUPPLIER COVERING UK & EUROPE
Located in London and Birmingham, Computec AV cater for all your rental requirements. Equipment available includes LCD/Plasma screens, PA systems, Projection Equipment and Lighting. Also in-house we have our Set Creation company specialising in staging, bespoke set design and build. Tel 020 8807 2002, Fax 020 8807 3818, email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: computecgroup.com
o EVENT CATERING
Quality event catering services for private & corporate functions using the finest ingredients in delicious & creative menus that can be tailored for any occasion, taste & budget. We work with quality venues in & around Warwickshire, inc. Compton Verney. Telephone: 01926 409579 Enquire in-store at Aubrey Allen, 108 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa ,CV34 5DB Email: email@example.com Visit our website: aubreyallenevents.co.uk
o EVENT TRAINING
EVENT TRAINING - WITH A QUALIFICATION
The Society of Event Organisers, SEO, offers a four-day qualification course, the Certificate in Conference Organisation (CCO) running in Central London three times a year, and which can also be presented at your premesis - dates by arrangement. Contact Peter Cotterell Tel. 01767 312986, email firstname.lastname@example.org visit seoevent.co.uk
TOP CLASS MAGIC AND ILLUSION ENTERTAINMENT FOR CORPORATE & PRIVATE EVENTS
Specializing in cabaret shows and close up Magic for galas, charity events, weddings, & corporate events Le Magician Dean Metcalfe is a master manipulator perfector of his own spectacular close-up Magic, performances worldwide, see website for live showreels and more details visit lemagicianilluminaire.com
o MEDIA COMPANIES
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MOCHA:IDEAS, FILM AND MOTION CONTENT THAT CONNECT
Mocha offer a complete film and motion design service to corporate, association and charity event organisers, venues and others in the event sector. Mocha also offer a 10% discount to readers of this publication and visitors to seoevent.co.uk - just quote "SEO". Tel: 0151 706 0761 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: mocha.tv Vimeo:http://vimeo.com/user4995482/videos
For all those who associate. associationnews.org.uk
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o VENUES. LEEDS
CONFERENCES & MEETINGS UP TO 90 DELEGATES
LCI offers conferencing with an ethical edge in Leeds City Centre. Five Rooms (Max 90 people) with Smartboards, loop systems, WIFI. Disabled access. LCI supports community/voluntary groups by offering significant discounts. Very close to railway & bus stations. Contact Moira or Wendy on 0113 245 4700 or email email@example.com
o VENUES. LONDON. NON-RESIDENTIAL
BOARDROOM OFF CITY ROAD
Our pleasant boardroom is available for full or half day meetings. It seats 14 people, boardroom-style, or can be arranged to suit your needs. Catering and equipment is available on request. We are conveniently located just off City Road. Call Claire/Nora on 0207 324 0750; fax 0207 324 0760; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; address: 27, Corsham Street, London, N1 6DR
BEAUTIFUL ARCHITECTURE. BEAUTIFUL INTERIORS. HEART OF LONDON
The classical regency terrace at Park Crescent, near Regents Park includes number 16, which offers seven beautifully appointed meetings rooms, all with natural light and modern facilities, for up to 60 delegates, and a dedicated team to ensure event success. Tel. 020 7612 7070, Fax. 020 7612 7078, email. email@example.com visit 16parkcrescent.co.uk
o VENUE TRAINING
VENUE TRAINING, WITH A QUALIFICATION
The Society of Event Organisers, SEO, offers a four-day qualification course, the Certificate in Conference Venue Marketing (CCVM) running in Central London once a year, and which can also be presented at your premesis - dates by arrangement. Contact Peter Cotterell Tel. 01767 312986, email firstname.lastname@example.org visit seoevent.co.uk
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