Event Organisers Update April 2020 ISSUE 185 - an independent information source published by the Society of Event Organisers (SEO).

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Event Organisers Update

The newsletter for organisers of events.


As the events industry lobbies our government for more financial support, and claims to be able to "kickstert the economy" when the current virus crisis is over, some events are being blamed for helping to kickstart the coronavirus in the early days of the worsening pandemic.

A Champion's League football match at Anfield between Liverpool FC and Spanish team Atletico Madrid was allowed to go ahead on March 11. Around 3,000 Atletico fans were allowed to travel from Spain to join 49,000 spectators at the match and circulate in the city's pubs bars and restaurants. These Spanish fans were not being allowed to watch matches at home, due to the escalating virus crisis in Spain and the possibility that some might have Covid 19 and pass it on to others. On March 14, three days after the match, Spain imposed a nationwide lockdown and in Britain mass gatherings, including major sporting events were suspended. The mayors of Liverpool and Madrid both described the decision for the match to go ahead as "absurd" and "senseless" and Liverpool's  mayor Joe Anderson has commissioned a wide ranging public inquiry into any link between the Spanish fans coming to Liverpool and any increase in the number of infections and deaths.

The four day Cheltenham Festival of horseracing went ahead from March 10 to March 13 this year and attracted 251,684 visitors from the UK and Southern Ireland. According to The Times newspaper hundreds of visitors to the event said they had developed Covid 19 symptoms. Virus expert and deputy chief medical officer professor Jonathan Van-Tam had already advised the events industry and the government, that there was "no clear rationale for closing events", this in a conference call on March 2, eight days before Cheltenham. On other March days prior to Cheltenham the professor was advising the public to continue to visit shopping centres and football matches. On March 16, three days after the last day at Cheltenham our government advised against large gatherings and imposed a lockdown on March 23, ten days after Cheltenham.

The festival sees hundreds of millions of pounds bet on races over the week, so big losers in a cancellation would have been the bookies. It is also famous for the "Cheltenham roar", the enormous amount of cheering from the crowd at the first race of the festival and possibly an ideal opportunity for spectators to get a lethal lungful of the airbourne killer.


Police are warning those running videoconferences, using popular tools such as Zoom, about a new malicious manifestation dubbed "Zoom Bombing".

This is where some sick individual joins a videoconference as a unknown participant and then displays disgusting and distressing images, such as child pornography. Police are issuing advice, particularly essential to those who may not be completely familiar with the technology they are using. This covers the use of passwords and "waiting rooms" as well as restriction of invitations and the recording of videoconferences, with the participant's permission, to pass to the police should any criminal activity take place.

See the Zoom website for more information. 


With tax exile Sir Richard Branson begging the British tax-payer for millions to bail out his airline the formerly-high public esteem for him has slipped.

Now other airlines are underwhelming their customers by delaying refunds for flights that have had to be cancelled, behaviour that consumer group Which? says is against the law. According to the Denied Boarding Regulations any passenger who suffers a cancelled flight within the legal time frame and who was flying from an EU or UK airport on an airline based in the EU or UK should be refunded within seven days. However Which? found that not one of the UK's ten largest airlines is complying.

At Michael O'Blarney's Ryanair passengers are told to either accept a voucher valid for twelve months or join a queue to have the refund paid "when the coronavirus outbreak has passed". And at trustworthy British Airways some passengers, unable to complete refund forms online, have been directed to a busy telephone line that "is often not answered".


The All England Lawn Tennis Club, which cancelled their Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, is understood to have insurance against this eventuality and to be submitting a claim "in excess of £100 million".

The club has always had substantial insurance against rain stopping play, thought to cost around £1.5 million, but in 2003, after an outbreak of SARS they had a clause covering cancellation due to a pandemic added. According to some reports "some brokers would have thrown it in for next to nothing" at the time.


A mega fine imposed on luxury hotel group Marriott could be drastically revised because of the current virus crisis.

Marriott was fined £100 million by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in July 2019 in respect of a serious cyber breach of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). This was the exposure of 339 million guest records globally, self-reported by Marriott, in which 7 million related to their UK customers. Both parties agreed to an extension of three months for the fine to be paid, this added to the statutory six months allowed for the ICO to serve the fine. This total meant that the fine had to be served by March 31 this year.

However on March 31 Marriott International disclosed that they had suffered another cyber-attack in February that exposed an "unforseen amount" of personal information about 5.2 million Marriott guests, this being one of dozens of attacks on various businesses designed to reveal personal details, attacks thought to be by cyber criminals taking advantage of the current pandemic.

There is a legal view that should any fines be imposed on Marriott by a public body that failed to take into account the Covid 19 emergency and its current and future effect on Marriott's finances, the imposition of those fines could be vulnerable to an appeal, or a successful application for a judicial review.


One interesting aspect of the lockdown is the number of art galleries that, unable to open for visitors, are putting their exhibitions online, Tate Britain with a presentation of its Aubrey Beardsley event being just one example.

Through this art lovers can learn that the decadent Beardsley was an enfant terrible of the Victorian art scene, shocking many with his erotic and exquisite black pen and ink drawings for Oscar Wilde's Salome, as well as pornographic renditions for the Yellow Book that more than touched on the Japanese art of Shunga. Sadly Beardsley was doomed to a short but prolific seven-year career, in which short time he became world - famous before tragically dying of tuberculosis in 1898 at the young age of 25.

For this art fan the virtual approach has a number of benefits, beyond just being free. One can enjoy the pictures without someone walking in front of them, or taking a selfie with them, and one can pause the film and study the picture for as long as it takes. The same applies to the wealth of material on youtube.

Question is, with all these benefits will art lovers want to go back to visiting galleries again when the lockdown is over?


With the closure of the High Street online firms such as Amazon are hoovering up many more millions, so a recent Channel 4 documentary "The Truth About Amazon" was a good watch.

For those who are happy to financially support the UK tax-avoiding giant there were some interesting insights into saving money by ordering high ticket items from Amazon's overseas websites, which can be cheaper. In one example given a customer who admitted trusting Amazon totally had her eyes opened with the revelation that by ordering the washing machine she wanted from Amazon Germany she was able to pay £121 less for it.

Viewers were also shown how apps such as Keepa can help keep track of price changes by Amazon and identifying the best time to buy.


For a film fan mostly into documentaries, comedies, dramas and film noir the above title didn't seem to promise much, but the reviews we saw were generally positive, so we played it.

It's a 1983 fairy tale fantasy adventure from Hong Kong cinema about warring tribes, heroes, heroines and evil spirits to be vanquished in Tang Dynasty China, directed by Tsui Hark. It stars some well-known and experienced figures of the Asian action genre - such as Yuen Biao, Adam Cheng, Brigette Lin, Sammo Hung and Mang Hoi - as well as being the debut action film for the fresh-faced Hong Kong actress and dancer Moon Lee, 18 at the time but made up to look older, who went on to feature in more than 40 mostly action films and 400+ episodes of TV series over nearly two decades.  

The plot is well-nigh impossible to follow so we stopped trying and instead enjoyed the dazzlingly choreographed swordfights, where no one seems to suffer as much as a nick, the tongue in cheek humour, the ground-breaking Hollywood-style special FX, the balletic wirework with Brigette Lin's lovely Ice Queen and her lovely fairy protectors sashaying sinuously all over the screen, brilliant art design and an epic score. Eventually the comic book heroes come up against the evil Blood Devil from the Dark Side and badly need the help of a man with mile-long eyebrows and the magic Dual Swords.........

Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain is being released in Blu-ray format this month by Eureka Entertainment as part of its Eureka Classics range. The pack also contains a wealth of extras, including the 93 minute export cut of the film produced for European theatres, new audio commentary, an episode of Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show (which aired on British TV in 1989), a 2020 interview with director Tsui Hark and archival interviews with Yuen Biao, Mang Hoi and Moon Lee


A very different Asian production called Kwaidan (ghost stories) came from Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi in 1965.

Sometimes described as a "horror anthology" this is in fact a collection of four separate and unrelated Japanese folk tales that concentrate on being hypnotic, spooky and beautiful, rather than gore-fests, which means they are thought-provoking rather than shocking. The films were shot in an aircraft hangar, even a battle scene on a lake, and featured beautiful hand-painted sets and some ghostly scores with natural and electronic music.

o  The Black Hair  tells of a young Samurai warrior  who cruelly dumped his beautiful and devoted wife, who slaved over a loom to help him with a small income and left  to marry a new wife from a rich family. Over time the young man found his new partner to be hard and selfish and came to regret his bad decision as he was haunted by the memories of the blameless woman with the long, shiny black hair he had so badly wronged. Eventually he decided to go back to her and beg forgiveness. As he entered his old house on the night he returned he saw her, still sitting at her loom and so overjoyed to see him that they talked till dawn and then lay happily in each other’s arms until the Samurai fell asleep. When he awoke he found to his horror that the ecstatic reconciliation was an illusion, and that what he thought was his wife was...........

o  Woman of the Snow,  this writer's favourite, tells of a beautiful but deadly female spirit who appears to two woodcutters sheltering from a snowstorm and kills the older one of them with her frosty breath, leaving him drained of all his blood, but sparing the other because of his youth and good looks. However she tells him she will kill him if he ever tells anyone about her, and he believes her because of the utter cruelty in the eyes set in a beautiful face. As the years pass he meets and erotically enjoys a lovely and kind young woman who he marries and who gives him a number of children, though she never seems to get a day older. One day, as he looks at her in some candlelight he is struck by her resemblance to the snow spirit and starts to tell her the story, at which she furiously turns and reveals who she really is....... 

o  Hoichi the Earless concerns a blind player of the biwa, a short-necked pear-shaped lute, whose speciality is chanting tales of ancient battles. He is visited by the ghost of an ancient Samurai warrior who was killed in the battle of Dan-No-Ura who instructs him to come and play his chant of this battle at the court of his dead master and his court of ghosts but to tell no-one. Hoichi. obeys and slips out regularly to play and chant but is soon discovered by friends at the temple where he is an attendant, who follow him one night. They tell Hooch that he is in considerable danger from the spirits, who will tear him to pieces now their secret is out, so they cover his body and face with holy texts that make those parts of the body invisible to the ghosts, but neglect to protect his ears, hence the title...

o  In a Cup of Tea  is about an author and attendant to a Lord who looks into the teacup served to him at a teahouse and sees a stranger's face looking at him. Convinced he is seeing things he drinks the tea anyway. Later, when the attendant is guarding his Lord the man in the tea appears again, spooking him this time and causing him to run in fright and tell the other attendants, who laugh and tell him he is seeing things. At home later the attendant is visited by three ghostly attendants of teacup man who he fights and is almost defeated. The tale finishes at this point and viewers are told they can write their own ending. However it ends when the attendant's publisher arrives to find his author and flees in terror when he does...

Kwaidan has been released in Blu-ray format by Eureka Entertainment as part of The Masters of Cinema series. It is a Limited Edition set of only 3,000 copies and is the original 183-minute Japanese cut - in some countries the film was butchered to shorten it by omitting the Woman of the Snow segment. The pack includes a new interview with film critic and writer Kim Hunter, a new 35-minute video essay, Shadowings, by David Cairns and Fiona Watson and a 100-page illustrated collector's book. 


Sad it was to hear that the amazingly rich owners of the Daily Telegraph and the 114 years old Ritz Hotel in London's Piccadilly only made a profit of around £680 million on the hotel's recent sale.

Co-owner of the iconic property Sir Frederick Barclay bought it with his brother Sir David Barclay for £80 million nearly twenty five years ago, in 1995, and spent £40 million on its refurbishment, a total of £120 million  Early last month Sir Frederick claimed that he would not sell it for less than £1 billion and that there had been "a number of competing offers for this first class hotel in excess of £1 billion".

Sadly it seems the number of buyers at this price level have failed to materialise and it has now been reported that a figure "close to £800 million" was paid by a relative of the Qatari royal family, Abdulhadi Mana Al-Hajri, on March 25. If the old calculation that money doubles in value every seven years still holds, based on historical inflation figures, then the crudely calculated worth of Ritz would be £1.37 billion.


Health ministers on opposite sides of the world have come across as hypocritical in the coronavirus lockdown they are urging us all to honour, and save lives.

In Scotland the chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood was caught making non-essential trips to her second home, an hours drive from her main domicile in Edinburgh, after which she resigned. And over in New Zealand the health minister has admitted driving to a nearby park to go mountain biking, and driving twelve miles to a beach to take a walk with his family. "I've been an idiot" he said, as he was demoted, but not sacked, by New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

More "Do as we say, not as we do" from our trusted health experts it seems.


Meanwhile another interesting view of the Covid 19 tragedy and the lockdown comes from Boris Johnson's father, Stanley.

Appearing on the ITV This Morning programme after some vitally important travel to get there our 79 year old Stanley reportedly claimed that "If I want to go to the pub, I'll go to the pub" despite the advice from the British government's Boris Johnson to avoid places such as pubs and clubs where it would be impossible to socially distance, a few days later all pubs and clubs were closed. Our Stan also apparantly said that he wanted everyone to get the potentially fatal disease to "get it over with".

Now there's a good role model for us all...


o Online newsletter Hot Dinners is still doing a much-appreciated job in reporting on sources of food that can be delivered in the London area. A recent example was a list of around 12 offering freshly made pastas, including crayfish and prawn tortelloni, ravioli with goats curd, honey and hazelnuts, lasagna with oxtail ragu, vegan pea and mint ravioli and squid ink linguine. Additionally covered by Hot Dinners in the past month has been where to get the best delivered cheese, chocolate, vegan and vegetarian treats and Sunday lunches.

Customers can also send dishes to friends and relatives.


o  Meanwhile for us folk in the Biggleswade area our local best Indian restaurant, Biggles Lounge is keeping going offering its dishes for home delivery, so we are ordering some to eat straight away, and more for the freezer, as we want our friends there around when the current crisis is finally over.

Favourite dishes we are enjoying delivered to our door are the prawn bhuna and lamb rogan (£8. 50), tandoori mixed grill of chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, sheek kebab and lamb tikka (£13), tandoori king prawns (£14) chicken mango delight with mango, cream and coconut (£12), vegetable shathkora cooked with lime fruits (£7) and deshi biriani with chicken or lamb (£12).


Organisers of some large sporting events thank deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam for his wise guidance that let them go ahead... Airlines explain why they would rather break the law than give refunds on flights they cancel... Marriott explain why their systems are so vulnerable to cyber-attack... The very rich Barclays make it clear that the £800 million they have reportedly accepted for the Ritz Hotel excludes breakfast... Prime Minister Boris Johnson denies that he ever told his father Stanley "I love you dearly, Dad, but sometimes you talk like a total twat"... and much, much more...


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