Event Organisers Update August 2020 ISSUE 189 - 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.


A few years back, when the writer was organising and presenting seminars for event organisers the important subject of making delegates feel welcome was a regular feature.

Our organisers were told of the research into the psychology of touch between human beings and of the benefits of contriving to touch arriving delegates, in an appropriate way of course. This could take the form of a light touch when putting on a delegate's badge, or pointing the way, but one favoured form for us was a friendly meet and greet handshake as delegates arrived. The writer, who was delivering the seminar would often stand at the entrance to the meeting room and shake hands with each delegate entering, saying an informal "Thanks for coming".

Of course there would be those few who did not want to shake hands, such as some with severe arthritis in the fingers and some oriental delegates who considered it unhygienic, but generally it worked for most.

Definitely not now, of course, in these difficult times where physical contact is avoided to fight the virus we touch covered elbows.  Perhaps we also need to adopt the safe oriental way of a slight bow to each other as the meet and greet.

Times have changed, perhaps for ever.


Organisers of illegal raves, parties and other illegal gatherings now face fines of up to £10,000 in the latest government clampdown on illegal events that potentially threaten public health. Those attending the events face fines of £100, doubling up with each subsequent offence to a maximum of £3,200 for six offences.

The new punishments came into effect on Friday August 28, in time for the Bank Holiday weekend. The Metropolitan police have responded to more than 1,000 illegal events since the end of June, and police forces in Birmingham, Huddersfield and Blackburn have broken up many illegal gatherings, the West Midlands police closing down 125 raves and parties in one weekend.

The view from the authorities is that it is deeply unfair that while the majority of the population sacrifice their freedom to safeguard the health and perhaps save the lives of others, a small minority who think they are above the law continue to put others at risk. And that those organising the events should be held accountable.


A cleaner at the five-star Connaught Hotel, Mayfair, has denied charges of stealing items from hotel guests in the three months between December 2018 and March 2019.

Graziela Camaco, 29, of Ilford, east London was charged with five counts of stealing diamond jewellery and £15,000 in cash at Southwark Crown Court on Monday August 17, and was also charged with being in possession of criminal property in relation to "Jewellery, money and designer bags" found at her address in April 2019. She was bailed and told to come back to court for a case management hearing on 18 November 2020.


A Birmingham event organising and production company that ran events for Royal Mail, Ricoh, Specsavers, Aston Villa and Mondelez (Cadbury) has been forced to close by the pandemic. (TheBusinessDesk.com)

MCL Create turned over £10 million and the closure has caused the permanent loss of 71 jobs.

The current restrictions on large scale live events, that have to be planned many months in advance, are hurting a sector which is said to employ 1 million people.


Hotel group Intercontinental, owners of Holiday Inn are axing 650 jobs, or about 10% of its corporate level workforce following pre-tax losses of £210 million for the first half of this year.

The group blame the impact of Covid-19, which has left its hotels worldwide with an occupancy of 25% from April to June this year. In this period in the UK revenue per room dropped by 90% as hotels were forced to close.

The company opened 90 new hotels in the first six months of this year. They have signed agreements for 180 more, including 100 Holiday Inns.


Three Best Western hotels in Yorkshire are up for sale following administration. (TheBusinessDesk.com) 

o  The 30 bedroom New Hobbit Hotel, Sowerby Bridge, Nr Halifax has restaurants totalling 60 covers, a function room for 120 and is less than a mile from the railway station.

o  The 44 bedroom, three-star Allerton Court Hotel, Northallerton, offers two restaurants and a bar area totalling 120 covers, a function room for 240 and is 1 mile from the railway station.

o  The 24 bedroom Hallgarth The Manor Hotel, is located 4.5 miles from Durham centre and offers 4 acres of private grounds and capacity of up to 240 for weddings.

Contact Lambert Smith Hampton 0113 245 9393 by noon 4 September 2020.


This black and white film, released digitally and in selected cinemas next month by Eureka Entertainment, starts with a mindless and sickening act of cruelty on a defenceless animal. And the cruelty, to animals and human beings continues through the almost three hours that is the journey of a young Jewish boy, Joska, through war-torn Slavic regions during World War Two.

Beautifully played by a ten year old Romani boy, Petr Kotlar, the boy's lone wanderings induce a massive loss of innocence as he witnesses a shocking assault by an unhinged miller (Udo Kier) on one of his workers, a brutal attack with a bottle on a woman by a gang of women and the murder and rape of unarmed civilians by soldiers. His own troubles include being taken in and abused by a murderous paedophile (Julian Sands), courtesy of a well-meaning priest (Harvey Keitel), witnessing a horrible act of bestiality on a goat by a beguiling farm girl he befriends (Julia Vidmakova) and being attacked and beaten by local youths, and men who should know better, because he looks different.

All the horror, and some of it has led to audience walk outs, is leavened a little by some who are kind to the boy, if not to other beings. A man who traps and sells wild birds for a living (Lech Dyblik) daubs paint over the wings of a sparrow he doesn't need and releases it into a flock of other sparrows, for it to be attacked and killed because it looks different, the incident that gives the film its name and narrative. There is a decent German soldier (Stellan Skarsgard) who is ordered to take the boy away and kill him, but doesn't, and a decent Russian soldier (Barry Pepper) who shows the boy how to use guns and gives him a pistol to protect himself with. However it is the acts of cruelty that affect him the most and he quickly starts to avenge himself on some of his protagonists, and some innocents. War changes people, and cruelty breeds cruelty.

The Painted Bird is directed by Czech director Vaclav Marhoul and has been acclaimed by most critics as his masterpiece, so it will be interesting to see if audiences generally agree. Critic Xan Brooks from the Guardian might have spoken for many when he wrote: "I can state without hesitation that this is a monumental piece of work and one I'm deeply glad to have seen. I can also say that I hope to never cross its path again".

You'll need a strong stomach for this one.


What's a young married Mum to do when she finds that her bank cards suddenly don't work and, because her husband has spent all their money on expensive prostitutes, they are a year behind with the mortgage on their posh Paris apartment, with eviction looming a few weeks away? And what if her family refuse to take her back, her mother telling her that her husband strayed to get something he wasn't getting at home?

This is the desperate situation facing young Parisian Alice, beautifully played by newcomer Emille Piponnier,( in her first lead role in a feature film) whose husband has disappeared to leave her in sole charge of her cute toddler son. Faithless husband Fracois is also well played as alternately confident, affectionate, doting and finally weak and pathetic by Martin Swabey, and son Jules is impressively cute as portrayed by Jules Milo Levy Mackerras, in reality the four year old son of the film's talented Australian writer and director of the film, Josephine Mackerras.

When Alice starts going through some of her husband's telephone contacts, and calling them, she realises that one is an agency for high-priced prostitutes calling itself "Elegant Escorts", which happens to be recruiting. Intrigued and wanting to find out how her husband went through their money so quickly she goes along for an interview with some other hopefuls. and discovers that he was paying the agency between £540 and £720 per hour, with the agency paying the prostitute 70% of that, or £378 to £504. Faced with having to find £7,000 in two weeks or lose her apartment, and an offer of employment as a highly-paid sex worker from the agency she sees only one course of action open to her and agrees to the offer. She later makes good friends with another of the agency workers, Lisa, a kindly and sexy Australian played memorably by Chloe Boreham, who takes her under her wing and gives her some practical advice on her new profession. ("You'll need better shoes" "Get the money first" "Cut the agency out to earn the real money").

As Alice, working name Sofia, starts to satisfy clients it is striking how pleasant to her are the ones we see, and to an extent this has been criticised by some critics as a very rose-tinted view of a sleazy, empty and sordid, though highly lucrative, way to earn a living. However, growing in confidence, Alice stays with it and starts to pay off all the debts Francois has saddled her with. Eventually he grovels apologetically back to her and makes himself useful looking after Jules while he thinks his wife is out earning big money as a personal assistant to a very rich female executive, her story to cover up what she is really doing. In time he finds out the truth, about the same time as Alice finds out who he has been giving her money to for the last year, a delicious finishing double twist, this one, just before the happy ending…

Alice was released by Eureka Entertainment late last month on selected digital platforms.


Fans of the traditional horror genre will enjoy this trilogy of three black and white 1930's films from Universal Studios, based on stories and a poem by American writer and master of the macabre Edgar Allen Poe. All three were produced before a strict moral code was imposed on the industry and star the specialist in nasty villains at the time, Bela Lugosi, (Dracula) paired in two of the films with another giant of the Gothic genre, Boris Karloff. (Frankenstein)

o  In THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE from 1932 Lugosi plays a mad and murderous scientist, Dr. Mirakle, who abducts young women in Paris and injects them with ape blood, trying to produce a mate for the ill-tempered chimpanzee, Erik, that he uses as a side show exhibit. When the blood of a number of women is found to be unsuitable Mirakle has his servant Janos (Noble Johnson) kill them and dump their bodies in a nearby river.

One day the side show is visited by a young medical student, Pierre Dupin, played by Leon Ames, and his fiancee Camille. She is played by the petite, pert and appealingly coquettish 25 year old Sidney Fox, born Sarah Liefer, who beguiles Mirakle, which convinces the twisted doctor that he has now found the beauty for his beast. Will he now have his wicked way with the lovely ingenue?


o  THE BLACK CAT  (1934) teamed Lugosi with Boris Karloff for the first time to produce a nightmarish psychodrama, with Karloff playing necrophiliac Austrian architect, Hjalmar Poelzig, who has a harem of beautiful and preserved dead women. His collection includes the former wife of his friend, Hungarian psychiatrist Vitus Werdegast, played by Lugosi, who was incarcerated for 15 years in a prison camp while Poelzig stole his wife, Karen.

Werdegast travels to Poelzig's huge and luxurious home to have his revenge, bringing with him a young married couple he'd met on the train, with the young wife injured when the bus from the station crashes.Werdegast treats her injuries and then discovers that the mad Poelzig plans to sacrifice her, and add to his collection. Meanwhile it emerges that after Poelzig killed Karen he married Werdegast's daughter, also called Karen and who he has also killed for his sick collection. When Verdegast finds out he lashes Poelzig to an embalming rack and extracts a hideously sadistic revenge.


o  THE RAVEN (1935) is based loosely on the poem by Poe and features Lugosi as Dr. Richard Vollin, a warped surgeon so obsessed with Poe that he has built a torture chamber in his basement. This contains the pendulum that swings a razor-sharp crecent-shaped blade to and fro as it slowly descends onto the chest of its terrified victim tied underneath, as well as the shrinking room where the hydraulically operated walls inexorably close in and crush anyone shut inside.

Although retired Vollin agrees to perform a delicate operation on Jean Thatcher (Irene Ware) to restore her to health after a car accident and, when this is successful he falls in love with Jean. When he reveals this to her father, Judge Thatcher (Samuel S Hinds) the judge discourages him, which makes him angry and he plots to get the family into his dungeon. Meanwhile he is visited by a murderer on the run, Edmond Bateman (Karloff) who wants his face changed to make him handsome and ensure future anonymity .Vollin asks Bateman to help him get revenge on the Thatchers, which Bateman refuses to do, that is until Vollin operates on Bateman, disfiguring him and only agrees to alter his face again if Bateman helps him punish the Thatchers.

The three horror classics, each around one hour long, were released last month in a 2-disc Blu-ray edition limited to 2,000 copies by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema Series. The pack also contains audio commentaries, radio series episodes, video essays and a 48-page collectors booklet.


Begging the headline GOVERNMENT GOLF GAFFE IN GALWAY a number of high-profile Irish politicians and other high fliers have apologised, and some have resigned, after attending an Irish parliamentary golf society dinner for more than 80 diners at the Station House Hotel, Clifden, Co. Galway on Wednesday August 19.

This was the day after the government there had tightened its Covid-19 restrictions following a worrying rise in cases, reducing the number of people allowed to attend indoor gatherings from 50 to six. The event split the 80 delegates across two rooms, on advice reportedly given to the hotel's management by the Irish Hotels Federation, advice presumably just out of date when the event, now dubbed "Golfgate" took place.

So far the Minister for Agriculture, Dara Calleary, has resigned, as has Jerry Buttimer, deputy chairman of the Irish senate and EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan, who had previously simply apologised. with his spokesperson claiming he would unquestioningly not be resigning. Additionally Hogan, who was due to lead free trade negotiations with a post-Brexit UK, had reportedly not self-isolated for the required 14 days following his return from a trip to Brussels, and was caught by police using his mobile whilst driving on August 17. Seamus Wolfe, a Supreme Court judge who gives legal advice to government is one of a number who have apologised for their unwise attendance at the golf dinner.


Amusing to note that KFC, purveyors of "fingerlickin' good" fried chicken are now backtracking on so endorsing customers to eat their product with their fingers and lick them afterwards.

Obviously this eating mode, never the most hygienic anyway, is finding much less favour in these pandemic times, where a quick unlucky lick could kill.

It will be interesting to see how KFC are going to change one of the most ingrained habits. Will we get disposable KFC gloves to keep the grease off our fingers while we pull and chew all the meat off the bones, or will we get KFC disposable plastic knives and forks to clumsily attempt the same operation, all without fingering the chicken?

It's a whole new world…


Sad to hear that one of our favourite trade publishers, Sydney Paulden of Incentive Travel and Corporate Meetings (ICTM) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is retiring at age 88, after more than three decades in the business. Sydney, who was always cheerful company when we met him on some press trips, is staying cheerful, wondering if the medical condition or old age will get him first.

Sydney's 36 year old son Alexander will be taking over the business ([email protected]) and Old Grit wishes them both well in these difficult times.

In a note from Sydney he tells us: "Sharon and I have enjoyed receiving your newsletter and wish you continued success in being the sector's conscience and watchdog! It needs you."

Cheerio to a real gentleman.


o Like most we have managed to get some savings on eating out with our government's Eat Out To Help Out discount scheme, which has given a 50% discount up to £10 on meals eaten in restaurants Mondays to Wednesdays in August.

This was to encourage folk back into the habit of eating out and many restaurants have deemed it a success in terms of filling tables, with a reported 35 million meals served across the country in the first two weeks  Sadly a few restaurants have apparently withdrawn early from the scheme citing some rude and impatient customers who do not appreciate the pressure kitchens and serving staff face operating at high levels during the pandemic and who take out their impatience at having to wait, or not getting a table, on their waiters and waitresses. Some restaurants also report an increase in no-shows.

Our own experiences across four discounted meals in August has been generally positive. We have mostly gone for an early (12.00 noon) lunch and opted to sit outside for safety where fortunately we have been lucky with weather, or an early (5.00pm) dinner. Two of the four places, a pub and a restaurant, were giving the discount on their normal menu. One hotel restaurant only offered a limited table d'hôte menu with three choices of starter, main and dessert at £15 for two courses and £20 for three that seemed to be especially designed for the promotion. At another pub/restaurant all the special main courses were priced at £15, meaning that a three-course meal was going to cost nearly £30, without drinks.

It will be interesting to see what happens to customer numbers after August 31, when the promotion finishes and prices go back up again.


o  Meanwhile one tapas chain, Tapas Revolution, is extending the deal into the month of September in some of its branches, such as at the two London Westfield sites, Bluewater and Meadowhall.

Most of the tapas there are around £6 so 3/4 tapas and a soft drink should come to around £20, less the £10. discount. An example would be starting with some ciabatta bread with Alioli garlic mayo (£2.25) and following with the Albondigas meatballs in salsa (£5.95), Paella Valenciana chicken and saffron rice (£5.95) and Patatas Bravas fried potato in hot sauce, or Tortilla Spanish omelette, (both £4.50) totalling £18.65.

Let's hope the extension idea catches on at other eateries.


The Oriental bow to each other from two metres away replaces the handshake in all UK social and business circumstances, for safety… Event organisers originating and running events of more than six people are jailed, along with their delegates, in a tightening-up of lockdown rules… A spokesperson for the attendees at the Irish government golf dinner tells the press: "Actually we strongly feel that we are above the common herd, and certainly above the law, especially the laws that stop us having a good time, but by which all the peasants should be bound. We salute our hero and role model, Dominic Cummings and his faithful defender Boris. We made the trip to Galway for an essential check on our eyesight and we all wish to remain anonymous"... At KFC "Fingerlickinchicken soup" made by liquidising fried chicken and drunk from a bio-degradable, microwavable non-plastic carton through a non-plastic, bio-degradable and sanitised straw becomes a best seller. Popular flavours are Barbecue Baked Beans, Mushroom Medley and Chilli Conflagration… and much, much more…


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