Event Organisers Update December 2020 ISSUE 193 - 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

PROMISING ?
Despite 2020 being, for many of us, the worst year ever there is a little hope on the horizon for the next one.

We now have at least two effective vaccines against the killer virus and the massive vaccination programme to protect all has started. Let's just hope that most of us had the anti-social Christmas and New Year prescribed, and that many more lives are not lost due to irresponsible mixing.

We have, fingers crossed, a deal with the EU which can leave both sides on friendly terms and able to move forward with barrier-free trade between us.

It's a promising start.

 

TRUST THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY NOW?
Trust in the travel industry to do the right thing in a crisis has plummeted as airlines and travel companies have illegally withheld billions of pounds of customer's money for trips cancelled since March because of the pandemic.

According to Neena Bhati, head of campaigns at Which? there was still more than a £billion owed to customers by online travel companies and airlines outstanding at the end of November, with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) apparently powerless to force payouts owed, or issue fines.

Let's hope, when travel becomes possible and safe again, that travellers who have been mistreated will boycott those who have mistreated them.

 

COVID CONVICTIONS

o  A student at the University of Lincoln has been fined £10,000 for organising a party for more than 70 guests at a house in Newland, Lincoln, in clear breach of the legislation which bans gatherings of more than 30.

 

o  A barber in Oldham has been fined £1,000 for using his house as a hairdressers during lockdown.

 

o  A Scotsman from Ayrshire was jailed for 28 days for travelling to the Isle of Man on a jet-ski to visit his girlfriend. The island has closed its borders to stay Covid-free and the man, Dale McLaughlin, 28, entered illegally and then visited two nightclubs, risking lives locally. It is understood he was released after a week and is now back in Scotland.

 

o  A sex party in Saint-Mard, south east Belgium was broken up by Belgian police and the 52 participants each fined £228, the amount they had paid to participate. The Belgian legislation bans gatherings of more than four people in a closed space. The party venue was a house in front of a hospital where Covid patients were being treated.

Two weeks previously police had broken up an orgy in Brussels involving 25 men, including an anti-LGBT Hungarian MEP, Jozsef Szajer, who was caught trying to get away by climbing naked down a drainpipe.

 

MORE COVID

o  Two UK female celebrities who should know better have organised illegal and irresponsible birthday parties for themselves. Kay Burley, a presenter on Sky News who previously, and correctly, tore into Michael Gove for his stupid defence of the stupid travellings of Dominic Cummings, stupidly organised a 60th party for herself, resulting in her being suspended from her TV role for six months. It is understood some of her colleagues at Sky overheard her arranging the Soho bash and arranged for press photographers to be there

And singer Rita Ora organised a 30th party for herself and 30 friends, after which she admitted was "an inexcusable error of judgment" and offered to pay a £10,000 fine.

 

o  Actor Lawrence Fox reportedly tweeted that he had "Just had a large group over for lunch and we hugged and ate and talked and put the world to rights. If the NHS can't cope then the NHS isn't fit for purpose". There is a view that Fox, coming as he does from a well-known and distinguished family of actors, was simply getting into character for his next role, playing against type as a total prat.

 

o  As many as 5,000 illegal parties could take place over the New Year's Eve weekend. This is the view of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) which warns that young people are "socially starved" and that public health and the possible deaths of vulnerable people will take second place to their want and desire to mix with others, says CEO Michael Kill.

According to the i newspaper some promoters of illegal raves are adding £10 to their entrance fees, to cover the cost of a possible fine.

 

o  A survey of the events industry by Reed Exhibitions has highlighted some changes in customer attitudes to physical and digital events, brought about by the current pandemic.  For visitors and exhibitors there is an increasing acceptance of online over physical events, with 3.5 new digital services being tried by visitors by September 2020, and 3.6 by exhibitors. However visitors are more optimistic than exhibitors about whether they can carry out the majority of their event objectives online - 57% of visitors against 43% of exhibitors. Around two-thirds of exhibitors say that they will be back into in-person events as soon as the vaccines are developed.

 

FOUR CHARGED FOR DAMAGE TO COLSTON STATUE
Four people have been charged by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with criminal damage to the bronze statue of 17th century slave trader MP and Bristol benefactor Edward Colston, which was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on June 7th and rolled into Bristol Harbour.

Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 32, and Sage Willoughby, 21 are due to appear at Bristol Magistrates Court on January 25, 2021.

Six other people involved in the vandalism have accepted conditional cautions, as an alternative to prosecutions. The damage has been assessed at £3,750 and the statue will be given a new home in a city museum.

MOVIE SPOT

o  HOUSE OF BAMBOO 1955

This stylish and colourful film noir crime thriller from Samuel Fuller is set in 1950's Tokyo and stars one of the screens most convincing actors of smooth but deadly villains, Robert Ryan, playing a ruthless gang leader Sandy Dawson.

Ruthless Dawson rules that if one of his gang is shot and injured during a job he is shot dead on the spot by his colleagues, to stop him talking under interrogation or torture. Into this supportive group blunders the reportedly recently released convict Eddie Spanier, trying to start a protection racket all of his own. Dawson signs him up as a gang member and he soon impresses the crime boss enough to qualify as an ichiban, or number one man. "Eddie Spanier" is played by Robert Stack, who, four years later would impess TV audiences as Eliot Ness, the incorruptible federal agent in Prohibition era Chicago in The Untouchables. This ran for 90 episodes, three series and 70 hours from 1959 to 1963 and earned Stack the well-deserved 1960 Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Series.

For The House of Bamboo Stack's character "Eddie Spanier" hides a secret from Dawson, one that he only shares with his love interest, the lovely and mysterious Mariko, played by the lovely actress, singer, TV presenter and latterly politician Yoshiko Yamaguchi, under her stage name for English speaking films of Shirley Yamaguchi. When Dawson learns the secret the stage is set for a brutal revenge and a thrilling shoot-out in a children's playground.

House of Bamboo was released this month by Eureka Entertainment as part of its Masters of Cinema series, and limited to 1,000 copies. The pack includes two audio commentaries, a Fuller at Fox video essay on director Samuel Fuller's films for Twentieth Century Fox and a collectors booklet with an essay and the words of Samuel Fuller.

 

o  THE LEOPARD 1963

This masterpiece from Luchino Visconti, himself an aristocrat, detailing the slow fall of the ruling class Italian aristocracy in Sicily, and the rise of the bourgeoisie in 1860 had a seriously inauspicious start as 20th Century Fox butchered 40 minutes from its 205 minute running time for its American release, causing its director to distance himself from it and accuse Hollywood of treating the American public like children.

Fortunately in 1980, but sadly four years after Visconti's death, most of the original film was restored under the supervision of the film's cinematographer, Guiseppe Rotunno, and his 185 minute production has enjoyed a reassessment and continually rising reputation, with director Martin Scorsese now considering it to be one of the greatest films ever made.

For us everything seems to work. The casting of Burt Lancaster as the elegant, privileged and flawed Italian aristocrat Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, once ridiculed because of the actor's "cowboy" image, now shines as inspired, with his sensitive performance, hinted at by his role as a Nazi-serving judge with a conscience in the 1961 Judgment at Nuremberg, a complex perfection. Here is an intelligent man who knows the days of his ruling class are numbered, as he seeks to do the best by his family, encouraging his dashing and hot-headed nephew, Tancredi, played by Alain Delon, into a marriage with Angelica the exquisitely beautiful daughter of one of the nouveau riche. Angelica is played by the stunning 25 year old Claudia Cardinale. Her father, Don Calogero Sedara (Paolo Stoppa) is the corrupt merchant wanting to associate with the aristocracy, and willing to use the wealth that Tancredi craves to achieve it.

Tancredi and his beautiful betrothed manage a significant faux pas between them when they join the rest of the family for a meal and Tancredi is telling of his experiences as a soldier, recounting the occasion when they enter a nunnery. According to Tancredi this is inhabited by elderly nuns who are disappointed that the soldiers have not come to rape them, and he tells them that he and his colleagues will be back when there are some young novice nuns they can defile. This amuses Angelica who says that she wishes she had been there, drawing the retort from Tancredi that if she had they wouldn't have needed the novices, and causing Angelica to burst into peals of sustained hysterical laughter. This shocking vulgarity goes down badly with everyone, especially Don Fabrizio's very strait laced and devoutly religious wife, the Princess Maria Stella of Salina, played by Rina Morelli.

The story is played out against a backdrop of the Risorgimento Italian unification movement that welded all the different states in the Italian Peninsula into the Kingdom of Italy, a process that began in 1848 and was mostly completed by 1871, when Rome was declared its capital. This was not without much bloodshed and the film features the violent battles, the firing squads and the lynchings that took place.

The last segment of The Leopard is a sumptuous ball held at the villa of a neighbouring Prince. This plays as a 45 minute set piece that Visconti stuffed with hundreds of extras, many actually Sicilian aristocracy, in an array of fabulous costumes. This serves as the last heroic gasp of the doomed order and features Angelica asking Don Fabrizio to dance a waltz with her. By now it is obvious that there is a strong physical attraction between the two that will always be unspoken, and, under the watchful eye of Tancredi the Prince grants her request, the two gliding effortlessly and elegantly around the magnificent ballroom. When the dance is over it is as if the Prince's life has also finished and he walks out of the villa and down a darkened street for the end of the film.

They really don't make them like that any more...

 

o  Talking of which, it was interesting to note that, of the 33 top-rated, five star movies showing  on TV over the Christmas fortnight nine of them were produced in the ten years from 1950 to 1959, and just thirteen - ie only four more - in the 50 years from 1960 to 2010. For the record the nine from the 50s were Scrooge - A Christmas Carol from 1951, Singing in the Rain from 1952, High Society and The Searchers from 1956, The Bridge on the River Kwai from 1957 and Some Like it Hot, North by Northwest, Rio Bravo and Ben Hur, all from 1959.

Like we say, they really don't make them like that anymore.

OLD GRIT'S DIARY

Monday
Not before time, Old Grit would say, at the news that his computer searches could be enhanced by a welcome dwindling of those tacky pop-up ads that appear, sometimes as a result of agreeing to the use of advertising cookies in order to access many websites these days

Two big fans of the consumer exploitation to generate advertising revenue, Amazon and Google have both been fined by the CNIL French data privacy watchdog for assuming computer users were happy with the cookies used on their sites without getting their prior consent - £31.7 million for Amazon, £90.5 million for Google. Both firms failed to provide clear information about the purposes of the cookies and how users might refuse them.

The firms have three months to clean up their act, with additional fines of £90,500 per day if it takes longer.

 

Wednesday
Is Barclays the banking industry's finest, or just the most fined?

We ask this noting that the bank holds the coveted record for the largest amount of fines levied on any UK bank, 11 separate fines totalling £517 million since 2009. This figure includes the £284 million imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2015 for Barclay's manipulation of currency exchange rates and its inappropriate sharing of information about its client's activities. This is the largest single fine ever imposed on a UK bank, another enviable Barclays record. Also included is £72 million imposed by the FCA for Barclays failure to minimise risk that it might be used for financial crime.

Now Barclays have been hit with another FCA fine of £26 million, this time for mistreating 1.5 million customers who fell into arrears during the current pandemic, often due to illness, bereavement or unemployment. Many were put on unaffordable or unsustainable repayment plans, bullying them into prioritising their debt to Barclays over other more important commitments such as their mortgages, child support, council tax or utility bills, which made their bad situation worse.

FOODIE NEWS

o  When you are tucking into a piece of solid, fruity Christmas cake, with wonderful marzipan icing of course, you are enjoying the Nation's ninth favourite cake.

This is according to a recent survey by Foodhub, which invited 2,000 UK adults to name their favourite cakes and giving them more than one vote. Cheesecake topped the top ten, nominated by 42% of respondents, closely followed by chocolate cake at 41%. Victoria sponge got 32%, with Brownies on 31%, lemon cake on 30%, Carrot cake on 29%, Bakewell on 27%, apple cake/pie on 25%, Christmas cake on 24% and Black Forest Gateau on 22%.

 

o  A group of celebrities are urging us to try a vegan diet for January 2021, which means giving up all meats, all fish, all dairy products and eggs.

The group includes musician Sir Paul McCartney, comedian Ricky Gervais and actress Lily Cole who say in a letter, also signed by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, that animal eating accelerates climate-change and could lead to more pandemics from the "breeding ground" factory farms as well as more deforestation as more forests are cleared for grazing and to grow crops to feed animals.

 

o  Meanwhile laboratory-grown meat, grown from animal cells and now a reality, could be one answer to the above problem. The authorities in Singapore have given permission for lab-grown chicken to be sold in their country, the first-ever opportunity for consumers to try the "clean", that is slaughter-free meat, for themselves. And apparently this is just the beginning, with laboratories growing steaks, burgers and fish fillets from live animal muscle cells.

Initially the price of the lab-grown meat will be much higher than that of slaughtered meat, but this is expected to reverse as more companies get into the market, and if the product is the genuinely tasty alternative its producers claim.

NEXT ISSUE

Travel industry bodies explain how they are lobbying to change the law so that withholding of customer payments in the event of cancellations will be legal in future… The swelling sex party sector in Belgium holds its own against increasingly stiff competition, according to MEPs... Sky News explains why Kay Burley cannot be wheeled out as a credible critic of illegality in future... Rumours fly of a typing error in the tweet from Lawrence Fox which claimed that he had "Just had a large group over for lunch" Allegedly this should have read "Just had a large groupie"... An online worldwide Cookie Preference Service for computer users to declare their "NO COOKIES EVER" preference attracts a billion registrations in the first 24 hours of its activation... Barclays admit that, on their track record, they are a really crap bank... and much, much, more...

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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