Event Organisers Update May 2020 ISSUE 186 - 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.

NEWS

NO MORE BUFFETS?
Hotel guests who enjoy the help-yourself buffets and the quality food in some hotel restaurants could be disappointed when things normalise and we all start staying in hotels for our events once again.

One major group, Intercontinental (IHG), which has 6,000 hotels worldwide and operates Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Regent Hotels and Restaurants has now banned buffets and closed all its restaurants on health and safety grounds in the current pandemic. Food service will be restricted to grab and go dining.

Other hotels may well have to take the same approach and it is possible, but depressing, that we may never see buffets again.

 

EARL'S COURT BACK?
Our government are currently being lobbied to build a temporary exhibition and conference venue on the old Earl's Court site. (Exhibition News)

The previous venue was last used for volleyball for the 2012 London Olympics and then demolished in 2014, a move that it was estimated reduced London's exhibition capacity by 30%, and that of the UK by 16% 

Another large London venue, Excel in Docklands was converted for use as a Nightingale hospital earlier this year for Covid 19 patients. Fortunately it has not been needed to the extent originally feared. Another London venue, Olympia is now in use as a temporary food depot for food banks.

 

COVID EXPLOITERS
Which? consumer magazine has reported instances of rogue traders selling in-demand hand sanitiser online for many times its normal price.

On Amazon Marketplace investigators found that 56% of the traders were selling Carex products for five times the normal price, and that 9% were selling them for ten times the normal price. One cowboy was selling a pack of two 50 ml bottles of Carex hand sanitiser for £24.99, or twelve times the normal price.

Don't get caught. 

 

PLAYS ON YOUR SCREEN
The National Theatre is continuing its lockdown offering of some of its previous performances free on YouTube, with a first session on a Thursday evening and for six days thereafter on demand.

So far the thespian delights have included  One Man, two Guvnors, Treasure Island, Frankenstein, Twelth Night, A Streetcar Named Desire  and Midnight Your Time, this last being a short  and entertaining 30 minute drama of a mother, Diana Quick, trying to get to grips with the long distance video call technology in London that will let her speak to her daughter in Palestine.

Performances for June that readers might want to catch include This House, launched in 2012 and given four out of five stars by The Guardian and deemed a thoroughbred crowd pleaser, "lampooning a political system that is flawed but somehow still functioning" Others describe it as "timely, moving and funny" and it was voted "Play of the Decade" by the public in 2019. It screens on YouTube at 7.00pm on Thursday May 28 and is on demand till June 4.

This is followed at 7.00pm on June 4 by the Shakespearian tragedy Coriolanus which launched in December 2013 with Tom Hiddleston in the title role and much praised. He plays the young and arrogant Roman general who, despite having won important victories abroad from Rome doesn't have much time for its people and turns against them with one of the enemies he formerly fought after he realises that the feeling is seriously mutual. In 2011 Coriolanus was also made into a well-regarded and modernised film directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes.

 

LOOKING FOR SPEAKERS?
Speaker agency Performing Artistes offer free short taster presentations of their performers on Zoom during the lockdown.

Email to ask@performingartistes.co.uk for more details and a sign-up link.

 

THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR MABUSE
Those familiar with the work of Fritz Lang ("M", Metropolis, The Woman in the Window, The Big Heat) will know that the above was the last film he directed, in 1960, and that it was the last of his three crime thriller films featuring the evil master criminal, Dr Mabuse. The other two were Dr Mabuse the Gambler, a black and white silent from 1922, and The Testament of Dr Mabuse from 1932, a black and white film that was banned by Reich propagandist Joseph Goebbels because, as some claimed, of some similarities between Dr Mabuse and Adolph Hitler, although Goebbels said it was because it "showed that an extremely dedicated group of people are perfectly capable of overthrowing any state with violence" Now there's irony...

So to the THOUSAND EYES production, another enjoyable black and white crime thriller taking its name from the multiple cameras and microphones that recorded the goings-on in every room at the Luxor Hotel, Berlin, installed by the Nazis during WW2 for surveillance. The film opens with a troubled, attractive young woman, Marian Menil played by the attractive Dawn Addams, perched swaying on  a narrow ledge on the outside of one of the hotel's high upper storeys and ready to plunge into the street far below, where fireman wait to catch her. Before she can jump Henry Travers a rich American industrialist played by Peter Van Eyck, talks her out of suicide and pulls her off the ledge and into his hotel room. Thereafter he gradually learns of her tragic marriage and how she hates her evil and abusive husband (Dr Mabuse?) and the film runs on as an enjoyable whodunnit and police procedural.

For us what made this especially enjoyable was the appearance of Peter Van Eyck, in this film as on the side of good, and perhaps memorable as the nasty Hans Dieter Mundt turned good in the gritty Cold War thriller The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, with Richard Burton - never better - as the world-weary British spy Alec Leamus, and the lovely Claire Bloom, playing Liz Gold, a librarian and secretary of her local communist party. Gold and Leamus become unlikely lovers, an aspect that has dire consequences for them both.

And another bonus for us was the casting of Karl Gerhart Frobe in the role of dogged police Inspector Kras. Gert Frobe, James Bond fans will remember, was everyone's favourite villain as gold tycoon Auric Goldfinger in what is widely acknowledged as the best Bond/Connery outing. This also starred action girl Honor Blackman who, amongst her other talents, managed the feat of saying the really silly "My name is Pussy Galore" whilst keeping a completely straight face. Frobe was a member of the Nazi party for eight years from 1929 to 1937, which got his films banned in Israel until a Jewish survivor revealed that Frobe hid him and his mother from the Nazis, probably saving their lives. He was picked for the Goldfinger role when the producers saw his performance as a very nasty child killer in It Happened in Broad Daylight. Frobe always regretted that since his Goldfinger role some people insisted on seeing him as a cold and ruthless killer, an image he probably shook off with his later appearances in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and Monte Carlo or Bust  

The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse was released in Blu-Ray format on May 11 by Eureka Entertainment, and the pack contains a feature-length audio commentary by film scholar and Fritz Lang expert David Kalat, a 2002 interview with Wolfgang Preiss, who takes three roles in the film, an alternative ending and a collector's booklet.

 

PARASITE
One rather good new film we saw at the cinema, just before the lockdown closed them all, was Parasite, a South Korean satire on class and wealth inequality, which did so well at this year's Oscars. Here it won Best Picture, Best Director for Bong Joon-ho, Best Original Screenplay, for writers Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won, and Best International Feature Film and is the first foreign film to win Best Picture in the 92 years of Oscar history. On top of all this it made Bong Joon-ho only the second person ever to collect four statuettes in one night, the first being a Mr W. Disney.

So what's it all about? Well it starts off with the four-strong Kim family, who live on the edge of poverty and fold pizza boxes for a living, as well as thieving from their local coffee shop. The twentysomething son, Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) gets a chance to improve his lot when he is asked by a friend to temporarily stand in for him as an English teacher to the young daughter, Park Da-hye (Jung Siso) of the very wealthy Park family. The friend, who is in love with the young girl, has to go away for a time and wants to make sure any new tutor wont be panting after the girl, hence his approach to Kim Ki-woo, who he trusts.

This trust turns out to be misplaced as Kim changes his name to Kevin and starts the tutoring, during which time the impressionable Park Da-hye falls for him, a big mistake on her part as "Kevin" the Trojan Horse has plans to get his other three parasitic con-artist relatives into the Park house to suck the Parks dry. First our Kev suggests to the sweet and naive mother, Yeon Kyo. (Jo Yeo-jeong) that her son really needs an art tutor, cue his sister "Jessica" (Park So-dam) who quickly sets about conning the mother for outrageous fees for the "art-tutoring" she has quickly picked up from books. She is quickly followed by her father Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) as a chauffeur and her mother Chung Sook (Chang Hyae-jin) as housekeeper, once the confidence tricksters cruelly get rid of the old and trusted one.

Top film critic Mark Kermode described Parasite as a "tragicomic gasp-inducing masterclass" and given that, after lots of things that subsequently go very wrong, it ends in bloody horror, we wouldn't argue with that. Go see something truly original, when our cinemas open again, or get the DVD

OLD GRIT'S DIARY

Thursday
Given the number of euros relying on mega German exhibitions it is unsurprising that the business community there cant wait for the lockdown to end 

To this end they have deemed that exhibitions are not classified as the "mass gatherings" that.many people think they are, since this classification remains banned in Germany until the end of August. Taking them out of the classification means that they could be running before then. (Exhibition World)

Of course there will have to be some stringent regulations regarding health and safety in place, which may put many visitors off attending, especially those from overseas who, understandably, may not want to mix and mingle with many others from overseas. They may indeed prefer to not fly there in an aircraft with lots of other people's breath circulating around the cabin via the air conditioning. Or on a train where it will also be very difficult to maintain the social distancing that we are told is saving thousands of lives.

Another fine messe, then?

 

Friday
Publicans in the UK have had their licences to trade revoked, or have been served Prohibition Notices for flouting the lockdown measures.

Police caught The Pendulum in Blaydon Road, Wolverhampton open last month and serving alcohol to customers, and its licence to trade was revoked. Prohibition Notices requiring pubs in the Rotherham area to close were served on the Red Lion at Wath, the Westville at West Melton and the Cutlers at North Anston.

For our money the customers supporting the pub to break the law are just as guilty as the landlord, and hopefully will be organising a collection to compensate for the lost livelihood. Could it be they listened to, and were in agreement with a certain father of our PM who told the world "If I want to go to the pub, I'll go to the pub"?

 

Saturday
The re-opening of 500 Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast food outlets has brought with it a racy plea from the firm, we hear.

Noting that some intelligent customers were throwing used KFC branded packaging out of car windows they tweeted the polite request "Don't be a tosser".

Now that's communication…   

FOODIE NEWS

o One new service launched  early this year and delivering gourmet food is One Fine Dine, the brainchild of Daniel Hulme at On Air Dining, which specialises in supplying very high quality food to the private jet market. For event organisers this could be a way of treating those valued clients it is not currently possible to take out to a top restaurant during the lockdown.

Food ordered from One Fine Dine is delivered cooked and chilled and with instructions, printed or on video, on how to finish it off in a microwave and arrange and serve it up "like a masterchef" so that it looks great on the plate and starts the "eat with the eyes, nose and mouth" sequence. For simplicity of choice there is an extensive set menu for £59.95 for three courses, £49.95 for two. This offers eight cold starters, including Scottish and smoked salmon choices, Cromer crab salad, duck and chicken liver parfait and vegetarian Scotch quail's egg, all supplied with appropriate accompaniments.

Nine main courses include rack of lamb, duck breast, chicken ballantine, sea bass and salt-baked celeriac, and a beef fillet option carries a £9 supplement charge, with a Wagyu Beef option an extra £45, all supplied with appropriate vegetables. Eleven desserts include several for chocolate lovers, tiramisu, apple pie, honey and orange sponge, roasted pineapple and cheesecakes. In addition three pre-starter canapes can be supplied for £7.50, and three post-dessert petit fours for £6.50, to start and finish in style 

From the two-course set menu we tried two of the mains. The line caught wild sea bass was a generous portion of two large fillets and came with cauliflower puree, wilted spinach, crispy polenta cubes -  a healthy alternative to potato - and a tangy fresh French sauce vierge of lemon, capers, tomato and coriander, which, for our money, would go well with any fish. The Gressingham duck breast was also a large, lean portion and came with artichoke puree, a very tasty duck croquette stuffed with leg meat, fine beans cooked firmly al dente, char-grilled artichoke, six sweet grilled cherry tomatoes and duck jus for pouring over. We would have been just as happy if the duck breast had come with a decent layer of wonderful tasting and probably deeply unhealthy duck fat, and found that our own teriyaki sauce with roast sesame seeds also made a very sweet and tasty addition to the duck. We also tried two of the desserts, on different nights as the mains were so filling, and enjoyed the rich old-fashionedness of a Granny Smith lattice-topped apple pie with piquant blackberry compote and some vanilla-flavoured Creme Anglaise pouring custard, and the sweet orange and honey steamed sponge with a fragrant thyme crumble and more vanilla custard.     

As well as the set menu there is also a massive, 58 page a la carte menu detailing hundreds of items including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices, soups, pastas, salads, sandwiches, sharing platters, and Arabic, Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, Thai and Russian dishes.

Currently there is a delivery charge of £29.95 for London deliveries within the M25 and this covers from 1-4 meals delivered to the same address in the same box. Other UK areas are subject to quote. Tel 020 3733 2303 email orders@onefinedine.com

Note. Our food, and a bottle of white wine, was kindly supplied on a complimentary basis for review by One Fine Dine.

 

o  An interesting survey by London foodie newsletter Hot Dinners asked 1,500 diners which London restaurants they were most looking forward to visiting, once the lockdown was over, and the top twenty, in descending order are below.

  1. Hawksmoor   433
  2. The Ivy   223
  3. Dishoom   345
  4. Brat   554
  5. Gymkhana   544
  6. Blacklock   344
  7. Quality Chop House   444
  8. Kiln   544
  9. Rules    335
  10. Savoy Grill   233
  11. Le Gavroche   454
  12. Aqua Shard   114
  13. Bao   433
  14. Flat Iron   444
  15. Mildreds   333
  16. Benares   222
  17. Padella   543
  18. Smoking Goat   544
  19. Brasserie Zedel   235
  20. Moro   332

When the list is augmented with scores in the Harden's Restaurant Guide it seems that it isn't the food that some respondents are looking forward to going back for. The three figure scores above represent, in order, the Harden's reporter's evaluation of the food quality, the service and the ambience of the restaurants, in comparison with others in the same price bracket. A five denotes "Exceptional", a four "Very Good", a three "Good", a two "Average" and a one "Poor" So top choices for food lovers would be Brat, Gymkhana, Kiln, Padella and Smoking Goat, this last on the ground floor below the first floor Brat.

On a lighter note Hot Dinners also published the fast food chains respondents were most looking forward to visiting after the lockdown and these were, in descending order below.

  1. Nandos
  2. McDonalds
  3. Wagamama
  4. Pizza Express
  5. KFC

This writer's personal choices? Dim Sum and/or noodle dishes in London's Chinatown or at Royal China in Baker Street, and KFC

NEXT ISSUE

As buffets become a thing of the past in hotels many guests resort to collecting an in-room spread from the nearest fast food outlet... An ongoing virtual exhibition of all German suppliers in all categories, saving visitors the travel and accommodation costs, and the risks, takes off in Germany. Visitors ask "Whyever didn't they do this before?"... visitors to pubs illegally open during lockdown are fined for flouting distancing rules and lying too close together on the floor... KFCs "Don't be a tosser" sweeps the board at the annual advertising awards. Judges praise the firm's "intimate understanding of the language that reaches its market"... and much, much more...

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Publisher's Note
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Event Organisers Update (EOU) is an independent information source published by the Society of Event Organisers (SEO). EOU is FREE and circulated monthly to more than 9,000 selected organisers and others interested in keeping abreast of development in the event industry (includes conferences, incentive travel, training events, etc.)

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