Event Organisers Update July 2020 ISSUE 188 - 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

EVENTS TO START UP AGAIN
Conferences and exhibitions can take place again in England from Thursday October 1, the government has confirmed.

However the staging will depend on the successful completion of some pilot events, the virus situation in the location, the Covid precautions at the event and the right of the Local Authority to close the event if there was a danger to the public.

Boris Johnson won some industry hearts when he commented that there were limits to technology for meetings and that it was "no substitute for face-to-face meetings and interaction"

According to the global trade show association, Ufi, the damage done by Covid 19 to the global exhibition industry amounts to £144 billion, a contraction of 60% for 2020 compared with 2019. North America will take the biggest hit of £61.1 billion, followed by Europe at £47.4 billion, and Asia-Pacific at £31.9 billion. Less affected are Central and South America at £2.6 billion and Middle East and Africa at £2 billion.

 

FACE COVERING MESSAGE
After a stuttering start our government has finally decided that the face coverings that are still compulsory on public transport will also now be mandatory in shops from the 24th of this month. Retailers are expected to turn away non-compliant shoppers, and their money, unless they put on a face covering and to call the police if they don't comply or refuse to leave. And the police can impose a fine of up to £100.

Our own observations, based on the very few shop visits we have personally made is that probably less than 10% are currently covering up for the protection of other shoppers. It will therefore be interesting to see if the latest crystal-clear message from advertisements placed by HM Government and the NHS has any effect. It certainly deserves to, showing as it does a man in a face covering and the caption "I wear this to protect you. Please wear yours to protect me."

No confusion there. The question for our events industry however, is whether we will be requiring all our valuable exhibition visitors and conference attendees to cover up or discuss their non-compliance with police officers.

Views from readers, as always, welcome.

 

CORRUPTION AT SWISS PHARMA GIANT
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has recently agreed to pay a total of $678 million (£542 million) to the US government and several states to settle a lawsuit against them for corruption.

The lawsuit alleges that the firm, the second biggest in the World behind Pfizer, ran sham speaker programmes that were nothing more than a way of bribing doctors with cash and giving them expensive meals, golf and fishing trips and top-shelf alcohol to prescribe Novartis products in favour of those of the firm's competitors. The lawsuit, prompted by a whistle-blower back in 2001 accuses Novartis of violating the federal False Claims Act and an Anti-Kickback Statute. A spokesman for the FBI described the conduct of Novartis as "reprehensible and dishonest", a fair description of the conduct of all the bent doctors who benefitted from replacing their integrity with greed. 

Meanwhile a Novartis subsidiary, Sandoz, has admitted conspiring with other drug companies to fix prices and rig bids for generic drugs from 2013 to 2015. The Novartis subsidiary is one of the largest makers of generic drugs in the US and has agreed to pay a penalty of $195 million (£150 million), the largest fine ever levied in a domestic antitrust case.

 

YOUNG BRITISH DRUNKS NOT WANTED
According to a recent report in the i paper most countries are happy to welcome back, post-lockdown, family groups, older tourists and business travellers, who all leave respectable sums of money in the local economy, and generally behave themselves.

 Very unwanted, but some countries seem unable or unwilling to say no, are the yobby young Brits who block book the cheaper hotels through their travel agent, get drunk on the flight over and then spend their days there drunkenly jumping off balconies into the hotel pool, fatal in some cases, and their nights on pub crawls around all the bars desperate to get on the route, which offer discounts for high alcohol consumption. 

Young drunk's favoured places to get hammered include Magaluf in Mallorca, and Kos and Mykonos in Greece

 

VIRTUALLY ALTERED PERMANENTLY?
Having got lots of us sold on the benefits of working from home our government now has the trickier task of enticing us back to the fun of commuting a few hours per day to work in buildings in our cities.

Which could prove to be a long job. In a recent survey of white-collar workers 30 per cent of them wanted to continue working from home, clearly not missing the daily trek to place of work and back on our wonderful trains, buses and tubes.

So will the new normal post-Covid commute just be from corn flakes and coffee to the computer?

 

ETHICAL VIDEOCONFERENCING
For organisers concerned about the ethics of videoconferencing platforms Ethical Consumer magazine has produced a table of 21 brands, showing the best and worst in this respect. Scores are given for a company's lack of involvement in such aspects as tax avoidance, human, worker and animal rights abuses, political activity, anti-social financing, pollution and supplying the military, nineteen in all, and a total Ethiscore awarded.

Those with a "Good" Ethiscore of 12 points or more are topped by Jami with 14, followed by Kopano and Whereby with 13, Cyberlink U with 12.5 and GoToMeeting, Houseparty and the popular Zoom with 12. The 13 platforms with an "Average" Ethiscore of 5 to 11.9 are topped by Jitsu with 11.5, Slack with 11 and Lifesize with 10.

One platform, Amazon, scores zero and is the subject of a call to boycott for Amazon's tax avoidance activities.

 

CMV IN ADMINISTRATION
Cruise operators Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) were placed in administration on July 20, with all future cruises cancelled, a victim of the Covid19 pandemic that has hit the travel trade especially hard.

The Essex-based firm is reported to have around 4,000 employees. It was forced to suspend all sailings between March 13 and August 25, resulting in the cancellation and refunding of 50,000 holidays .In a statement CMV chief executive Christian Verhounig paid tribute and apologised  to the company's "loyal and hardworking" staff,  travel trade partners and suppliers as well as to their valued passengers for the "disappointment and further disruption" of holiday plans.

The writer has had more than a dozen enjoyable and reasonably priced cruises with CMV and always found the food special, the staff helpful and attentive, the evening floor shows very professional with some real talent and the shore excursions well worth the money

 

NOW OPEN AGAIN
Many may not know the author, Alf Wight OBE, but may know his pen-name of James Herriot, and his very readable books about his life as a vet in Yorkshire, with this year as the 50th Anniversary of the publication of his first book, If Only They Could Talk.

Wight's books were turned into a very popular TV sitcom, All Creatures Great And Small, which ran for seven series and 91 episodes totalling more than 75 hours. All this inspired a new visitor attraction, The World of James Herriot, a modern museum dedicated to the now world-famous vet and based at Wight's old 1940's home at 23, Kirkgate, Thirsk, Yorkshire, which for the books became the fictional Skeldale House, in the fictional town of Darrowby. To visit is to step back 80 years, to a more gentle time, and where it doesn't take much imagination from fans for the much-loved characters played on TV by Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy Carol Drinkwater, Lynda Bellingham, Peter Davidson and many others to come to life once again.

Following the three-month lockdown we've all been under, the covid-aware World of James Herriot is set to open again on Wednesday, July 15th, with a new one-way route, mandatory social distancing of two metres and advice to visitors to bring their own face coverings. Entry is free to under 5s, £5 for 5 -15s and £8.50 for adults.

Demand is expected to be enhanced with the news that a new series of All Creatures Great and Small has been filmed and will be screened on Channel 5 this autumn. Meanwhile those who would like to experience, or re-experience all the original 91 episodes over seven series and 75 hours can pick up the box set for £20-£30 from online retailers.

Web. worldofjamesherriot.com

 

o  MR VAMPIRE
Fans of Hong Kong cinema will know that this famous 1985 slapstick comedy-horror action flick, from director Ricky Lau, kick-started a whole new franchise featuring similar films from Lau and other directors, as well as a theatrical play, video games, board games and vampire dolls and toys. This original film is rated as the best by many and will doubtless strike some in the West as seriously entertaining - we enjoyed it - and others as seriously just silly.

The story is of the menace of the jiangshi hopping vampires, the zombie-like undead who prey on the living, but who can't see them if they hold their breath. The Van Helsings of the tale are two Taoist priests who use their supernatural powers to battle the hopping corpses, Master Kau played by Lam Ching-ying and assisted by Priest Four-Eyes, played by Anthony Chan. Master Kau is blessed, or cursed, with two inept student assistants, Man-choi (Ricky Hui) and Chau-sang (Chin Siu-ho) who provide much of the comedy, as well as some impressive and unaided fighting acrobatics. Some other memorable comedy of misunderstanding is down to Ting Ting, the fresh-faced 20 year-old Moon Lee who pouts and flounces around looking innocent and lovely, gets mistaken for a prostitute and ignites the love, and probably lust of the amusingly incompetent police inspector Wai, who is also her cousin and played by Billy Lau. 

Master Hau's current supernatural contract is with Ting Ting's father, the very rich businessman, Master Yam (Huang Ha) who retains Hau to dig up the coffin of his dead father and re-bury it somewhere else, which he hopes will bring his family increased prosperity. When the coffin is raised Hau notices that the body inside has not decomposed, and correctly concludes that he is looking at a vampire. For this reason he takes the coffin back to his house where he and his students seal the coffin with enchanted ink, but forget to use it on the coffin's base, allowing the vampire to break out and kill Yau's son before going into hiding. Coming back chez Kau's for more victims the vampire is fought off, but critically wounds Man-Choi, causing Kau to send out Chau-sang for a remedy to stop him becoming a vampire. On the way back home Chau-sang is distracted by Jade, a beautiful female spirit played by 23-year-old Wong Siu-fung, who lures him into her house and seduces him without too much protest. Sadly she turns out to be a vampire, a non-hopping type apart from into bed, and one of a number the team have to deal with before the end credits

Mr Vampire was released on July 20 in Blu-ray format by Eureka Entertainment as part of its Eureka Classics range. The language is Cantonese with optional English sub-titles. The pack contains a feature-length audio commentary, three archival interviews with director Ricky Lau and actors Chin Siu-ho and Moon Lee and a collector's booklet.

 

o  CRISS CROSS
In a 45-year career in nearly 80 films American actor and producer Burt Lancaster lent his talents for playing very different characters to such classics as From Here To Eternity (1953), Trapeze (1956), Gunfight At The OK Corral (1957), Sweet Smell Of Success (1957), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), Elmer Gantry (1960), Judgment At Nuremberg (1961), Birdman Of Alcatraz (1962), Airport (1970), Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) and Atlantic City (1977), to name some of our favourites.

Fans of early 1940's American films noir however will know that the actor, in his early career, starred in a number of them, including his debut in the highly-rated The Killers, based on an Ernest Hemingway story, in 1946 with Ava Gardner. This was followed by other memorable examples of the genre, such as the pitch-black prison movie Brute Force, and I Walk Alone in 1947, this last teamed up in the first of seven films with Kirk Douglas. In 1948 came Sorry, Wrong Number with Barbara Stanwyck, and in 1949, Criss Cross.

In this Lancaster was teamed with Yvonne De Carlo in her first major role, and directed by Robert Siodmak, who also directed The Killers. Criss Cross, made in black and white also boasts a small piece of film history for buffs to watch out for - the non-speaking and uncredited screen debut of one Anthony Curtis, playing a gigolo and dancing with De Carlo in the early part of the film to the tune of Jungle Fantasy, performed by Esy Morales and his Rhumba Band. Sadly Morales, who suffered from diabetes died the following year, aged just 33.

Lancaster plays Steve Thompson, an armoured truck driver who can't stop seeing his former wife, Anna, played by De Carlo, who is now married to a violent local hood, Slim Dundee, played by an actor specialising in villains in the genre, Dan Duryea. Other notable films noir he was featured in include Scarlet Street and The Woman in the Window, in 1945 and Too Late For Tears in 1949. In Criss Cross Slim Dundee catches Steve and Anna having a secret meeting, but buys Steve's hastily made up excuse that he did it to make contact with Dundee, who he now wants to work with to have his own armoured car hijacked during a wages delivery, so that he can steal from his employer. Of course, being film noir there cant be a happy ending and accordingly the thrilling climax goes very badly for all three.

Criss Cross was released on Blu-ray format last month by Eureka Entertainment as part of its Masters of Cinema Series The pack includes a new audio commentary, a new video piece and a collector's booklet with new writings, and an essay.

 

o  ARRIVEDERCI, MAESTRO
Sad news for film buffs was to hear of the recent death, at 91 years old from a fall, of maestro Ennio Morricone, the Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor and trumpet player who gave us over 400 scores for film and television, in a wide range of styles

Notably he composed for Italian director Sergio Leone, whose Spaghetti Westerns were memorably enhanced by Morricone for such productions as the "dollars trilogy" with Clint Eastwood, the haunting  notes, whistles and grunts of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (1966) leading to it being considered one of the most influential soundtracks in history.

Morricone also composed some of most stirring, dramatic and downright beautiful melodies for the movies. Our own personal favourites include the lovely Deborah's Theme for Leone's stunning Once Upon a Time in America (1984) this matched with worryingly beautiful images of former child model Jennifer Connelly, just 13 in her movie debut as a young gangster's young love interest, Deborah. Others, for us, were the haunting harmonica from Leone's Once Upon a Time In The West (1968), most of the music from The Mission (1986), the Maturita from Cinema Paradiso (1988) and the Romanza from Novocento (1976). But really there are lots more.

He'll be sorely missed. 

OLD GRIT'S DIARY

Monday
Macho movie man and Western legend "Duke" John Wayne, who died of stomach cancer aged 72 in 1979, is the subject of a bid to remove a statue and other references honouring him at John Wayne Airport, Orange County, USA. Local Democratic leaders also want the airport to revert to its original name of Orange County Airport.

The reason given is the bigoted responses Wayne made for an interview with Playboy magazine in 1971 when he was 64, and nearly 50 years ago. At this time Wayne commented that he believed in white supremacy "until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility" and that he felt that white Americans did no wrong in taking land away from American Indians, land that the Indians were "selfishly trying to keep for themselves" He also opined that "opening doors and tipping your hat to ladies is uh, probably a thing of the past".

Whilst, for many, the Duke's comments mark him out as a dinosaur in these more enlightened times there is, for our money, the possibility that Wayne's tongue was firmly in his cheek, and he was saying what he thought America's Playboy readers would like to read…

 

Tuesday
Staying with the US it was edifying to read that on July 4 a new World record was set in Brooklyn, NY.

This is for the 75 hot dogs consumed in ten minutes by competitive eater Joey Chestnut, 36, in this year's contest organised by Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs. This amounted to a total of 7.5 kilograms of processed meat and rolls, delivering 21,000 calories, for those counting. In a career spanning 15 years Chestnut, a construction engineer from Kentucky has consumed stellar quantities of food including deep fried asparagus, grilled cheese sandwiches, waffles, bratwurst sausages, chicken wings, matzo balls, pizza, chicken satay, goyoza, macaroni cheese, burritos, corned beef sandwiches, pulled pork and poutine, a dish of French fries, cheese curds and brown gravy, from Quebec.

Chestnut holds more than 35 World records for scoffing and has won the Nathans Famous Hot Dogs eating title thirteen times. Nathans have been supplying their 100% beef frankfurters since 1916, from a recipe devised by co-founder Nathan Handwerker's wife Ada and flavoured with a secret spice recipe created by Ada's grandmother. For those visiting New York the original Nathan's restaurant is still at Coney Island, with branches, franchisees and grocery stores selling the product all over the US. Those staying in the UK can visit one of two Nathan's outlets, in Bournemouth and Southampton.

FOODIE NEWS

o  As serious fans of rib-eye beef steak we ran a tasting at home recently featuring five different examples from three different sources and our personal scores for each are listed below. All the steaks were 8 ozs (227 gms) in weight, from which we cut off around 45 gms and cooked them all the same way - hot-fried in good olive oil for three minutes each side for medium to rare and rested for two minutes, before enjoying with some essential Colman's English Mustard. Scores are based on our ratings of taste and tenderness.

1) Score 5 - Asda ribeye, £2.95 per 227 gms/£12.95 per kilo.

2) Score 6 - Asda extra special 30-day matured Aberdeen Angus ribeye £4.49 per 227 gms/£19.77 per kilo. 

3) Score 6 - Aldi ribeye 28-day matured £3.69 per 227 gms/£16.26 per kilo.

4) Score 7 - Aldi Aberdeen Angus ribeye £3.99 per 227 gms/£17.58 per kilo.

5) Score 8 - Warrendale Wagyu online supplier of British Wagyu ribeye £11 per 227gms/£48.46 per kilo.

In addition to the above we also tried some British Wagyu rump steak from Warrendale on special offer at £50 per box of 10, as below.

6) Score 7 - Warrendale British Wagyu rump £5 per 227 gms/£22.03 per kilo.

NEXT ISSUE

Exhibition attendees and conference delegates snap up clever face masks with a zipped hole that can be unzipped to poke food through, and a straw for drinking… Doctors demand a substantial pay increase, to take into account the lack of cash and freebies coming from newly ethical drug companies. One complains "more than half my income and most of my holidays once came from all the lovely dropsy and kick backs supplied by that nice Swiss drug firm Novartis"... Hotels in Magaluf drain their pools in readiness for drunken Brits jumping off balconies… Chancellor Rishi Sunak imposes a huge Windfall Tax on Amazon, equivalent to the amount they've avoided since starting up, which pays for some of the Covid-19 aid programmes… John Wayne Airport is renamed Sitting Bull Airport… 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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