Event Organisers Update April 2021 ISSUE 197 - 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

MURDER OF HOTELIER
Sir Richard Sutton, 83, owner of London's 164 bedroom Athenaeum Hotel and the 303 bedroom Sheraton Grand London Park Lane was stabbed to death in his Gillingham, Dorset home in early April. His partner, Danish physiotherapist Anne Schreiber, 65, was also stabbed in the same attack and is still in a critical condition in a Bristol hospital.

Sir Richard's stepson, Thomas Schreiber, 34, was arrested for the murder, and the attempted murder after a 100 mile police chase of his Range Rover. He has been remanded in custody from Winchester Crown Court with a plea hearing set for July 5 and a trial date set provisionally for October 25.

As well as the two London hotels Sir Richard also owns three smaller MGallery brand hotels in Windsor, Cheltenham and Bath, as well as other property and farmland. According to the Sunday Times Rich List for 2020 his net worth was £301 million.

 

TAX SCAMS UP IN PANDEMIC
Those individuals or businesses who get a phone call, letter, text or email purporting to be from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offering a tax refund will need to check it with their local tax office as 553,000 of them have turned out to be bogus as fraudsters try to get information about bank accounts, to "pay the refund into".

Nearly as many have had communications falsely claiming that money is owed, and threatening court action if it is not paid, to the fraudsters of course.

HMRC have handled more than 1 million complaints of tax scams in the past year and 20,000 fake HMRC websites have been taken down.

 

SICK TRADE
Trophy hunters who get pleasure from killing wild animals and cutting bits off them to take home and impress their friends, are being well looked after in Zimbabwe. Here the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority have announced licensing them to kill one of a total of 500 elephants, for a fee.

The move is to try to make up revenue lost in the pandemic lockdowns on travel, resulting in the collapse of visitor numbers. Fees, dependent on the size of the animal killed, range from £7,200 (for a baby one?) to £50,500. Thus the slaughter is expected to raise from £3.6 million to £25.25 million for the cash-strapped Authority.

 

ATTRACTIONS SUFFER
Some of the UK's top attractions lost significant numbers of visitors in the pandemic year.

Those suffering an 80%+ fall in 2020 were:

Edinburgh Castle 87%
Kelvingrove Museum 86%
Tower of London 85%
St Paul's Cathedral 85%
Southbank Centre 84%
Royal Albert Hall 83%
National Portrait Gallery 81%
Scottish National Gallery 81%
British Museum 80%
National Gallery 80%
National Museum Scotland 80%
Stonehenge 80%

Source: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions ALVA.

 

THE LOUVRE, ONLINE.NOW
The world's most famous and largest art gallery and museum, The Louvre, Paris (currently closed) has put all its treasures online.

The 480,000 items to view free include 7,500 artworks, the total that are on loan, on display and, perhaps most exciting of all, those in storage that visitors seldom see.

As art lovers will know, all the artworks from after the 1848 Revolution were moved to the Musee D'Orsay in 1986, leaving works from the 13th Century at The Louvre. The new online presentation means that we can all enjoy some of the world's best without people thoughtlessly standing in front of us, waving selfie sticks around or taking naff selfies to impress their friends on Instagram. The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo Da Vinci, hanging there since 1797 and insured for a reported £475 million has never looked so good.

Other significant artworks include Theodore Gericault's Raft of the Medusa, from 1818 when he was just 27, Eugene Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People (1830), the startling Tree of Crows by Casper David Friedrich (1822), Bathsheba at Her Bath by Rembrandt (1654), the luminous Bathsheba holding David's Letter by Willem Drost (1654) and the radiant Diana after the Bath by Francois Boucher (1742).

There are many paintings of the biblical figure Bathsheba - like Eve it was permissible to paint her naked, something many artists took full advantage of. She was a beautiful woman who was lusted after by King David, after he spied her bathing. David sent for her by letter, seduced her and made her pregnant, then sending her soldier husband Uriah into the frontline of battle and ordering his officers to abandon him there, knowing he would be killed. David then married Bathsheba but God punished David for his coveting and killing by causing the first child of the adulterous union to die. David repented and their second child, Solomon, with some wily string-pulling by Bathsheba, became king when David died, with Bathsheba as the influential queen mother.

 

COVID UK

o In Bestwood, Nottingham a woman has been fined £10,000 for organising a 30th birthday party for 50 people in a garden marquee.

o In West Bridgford, Nottingham, the Bridge Field park is now being patrolled by security guards after large numbers of people flooded onto it.

o In Fallowfield, Manchester the organiser of a performance by rapper A.J. Tracey has been fined £10,000 after hundreds turned up to listen.

o In Hyde Park, Central London, eight police officers were injured by missiles thrown by peaceful protesters against lockdown and vaccine passports. Five people were arrested for offences, including assault.

o Essex police are tracking down partygoers who fled from a group of 100 attending an unlicensed music event at Stamford-le-Hope.

o Kent police closed down an illegal rave before it could open at Polhill, Sevenoaks.

 

COVID OVERSEAS

o India, where the virus is increasingly raging and killing, has become the focus of world attention, with many countries, including the UK sending medical supplies to try to preserve lives there.

o On the island of Mallorca, Spain, a 40 year old man with Covid-19 symptoms coughed on his work colleagues and told them: "I'm going to give you all the coronavirus". He is believed to have infected 22 people and police have charged him with deliberately causing injury.

o In Madrid, Spain, which has become the capital of illicit parties police there have claimed extra powers to break them up. They say they dealt with 3,761 parties in private homes and bars in the first eleven weeks of 2021, a rate of nearly 50 a day, though also say that many more are going undetected.

o In Vietnam a 29 year old male flight attendant with Vietnam Airlines has been given two years probation for violating quarantine rules and spreading the virus to others. Duong Tan Hau spent time with a teacher and visited a cafe when he was supposed to be isolating. As a result three people, including the teacher, have since tested positive, several schools have had to close and 2,200 people in the chain of contact have to quarantine.

o In Paris 110 people were fined for illegally dining in a restaurant, while the organiser of the dinner, and the restaurant manager were both arrested.

o In Basel, Switzerland, three students falsified positive Covid-19 results in an effort to skip school, an action that forced 25 classmates to quarantine in their homes for 10 days.

o Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ccha has been fined £165 for not wearing a face mask.

o As former US president Donald Trump continued to travel and hold rallies during the pandemic, the former vice-president Mike Pence took a winter skiing holiday in Colorado that breached federal guidelines on coronavirus safety. His trip, with his family and 48 agents, cost the US taxpayer £544,000 in security costs alone.

 

MOVIE SPOT

KARLOFF AT COLUMBIA
Between 1935 and 1942 horror icon Boris Karloff, who was aged 48-55 starred in six films for Columbia, a few years after making the Frankenstein films that cost him many hours being made up as the monster, but that really made his name internationally.

For Columbia in 1935 it was The Black Room, made in the same year as two highly acclaimed horror films, The Raven and Bride of Frankenstein. In 1939 it was The Man They Could Not Hang, in 1940 The Man With Nine Lives and Before I Hang, and in 1941 The Devil Commands. These last four have been dubbed his "mad doctor" cycle as in each he plays this character, or an equally mad scientist, both of whom cause the film's body count to mount. The sixth film, in 1942, was The Boogie Man Will Get You, a parody of these four. Reviews follow.

o The Black Room 1935 Here Karloff shows he can act both nice and nasty, playing two brothers, the kindly Baron Anton who everyone loves and the evil Baron Gregor, who everyone hates and fears for his habit of capturing, ravishing and then murdering, in the Black Room of his baronial castle, the wives of the local peasants. Anton, with his faithful mastiff, Tor, visits Gregor for a bit of brotherly bonding, and the stage is set for more murder, a visit to the Black Room, the vindication of an ancient family prophecy concerning the two men and a major acting part for the dog.

o The Man They Could Not Hang 1939 Karloff plays Dr Savaard, a good doctor obsessed with bringing dead people back to life. This he hopes to achieve by connecting a patient to an artificial heart that pumps blood around the body while the patient's own heart is stopped and a serious operation is performed. In 1939 this was pure science-fiction but nowadays actually happens as open heart surgery. Sadly for Savaard the young man willing to be killed and then brought back to life has a girlfriend who is frightened enough to go to the authorities and have him stopped. Savaard is sentenced to hang, and does, but not before he arranges for his assistant to claim his dead body from the hangman and bring it back to life, so that a now vengeful Savaard can kill those who convicted him, which he does with great ingenuity.

o The Man With Nine Lives 1940. There's a cryogenic theme to this one as the ten year old frozen body of Dr Leon Kravaal (Karloff) is found in a deep ice chamber under his deserted and derelict home, along with four other frozen men. The discoverers, Dr Tim Mason (Roger Pryor) and his nurse Judith Blair (Jo Ann Sayers) have also, like Kravaal, been working on aspects of cryogenics and revive Kravaal and the four others, with the revived doctor explaining in flashbacks how he and the others came to be there. Revived, one of the four who believes Kravaal killed his father for his money, destroys the only copy of the formula for the potion that allows those frozen to be revived again, prompting Kravaal to shoot him in a rage and then use the rest as guinea pigs to find the right proportions of chemicals for the potion.

o Before I Hang 1940 The ethics of euthanasia are the theme here with Dr John Garth (Karloff) convicted of murder and sentenced to hang for the mercy killing of an elderly friend. Garth's passion to develop a serum that will reverse the effects of aging impresses the prison warden who lets him go on with his research, assisted by another interested doctor, in the three weeks before his execution. On the last day Garth and his colleague finally have a serum, using blood from another prisoner, that Garth takes just before prison staff arrive to take him to his death. Just as they all leave however the telephone rings with the news that Garth's sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment, as Garth collapses due to the serum in his body. When he wakes up he finds that the serum has worked to make him younger and fitter, but that it was a tragic mistake to flood his body with the blood of a murderer...

o The Devil Commands 1941 Brain Waves are what Dr Julian Blair (Karloff) is studying when his beloved wife Helen (Shirley Warde) is killed in a car accident. Blair goes on with his controversial, and demonstrably dangerous, research but becomes obsessed with using the technology to communicate with the soul of his dead wife. He visits a medium, Mrs Walters (Anne Revere, convincingly playing against type as a seriously nasty piece of work) and experiences her seance, staying behind afterwards to expose it as a clever fraud. Despite this the two become colleagues and she works with him until she is accidentally killed during her involvement in one of the experiments with powerful electrical currents, though she is not the first to be sacrificed in Blair's poignant attempts to talk to his dead wife.

o The Boogie Man Will Get You 1942 This parody has Karloff acting the kindly and gentle old buffer, more Mr Chips than Mr Hyde, whose experiments with strong electrical currents to create superhumans mostly,( "Dear, Dear, Dear" he grumbles) end up killing people. The film is enhanced by Peter Lorre, another horror icon, who played the baby-faced serial killer of little girls in his breakthrough film, Fritz Lang's M (1931) and was then destined to play murdering psychos, although his comedy part in this shows him in a much more likable light. Another welcome addition is the very watchable young Jean Marie Donnell, nicknamed "Jeff" after her favourite cartoon character, who brought "a perky, unpretentious, tomboyish quality" to the screen, said one critic, a quality which served her well in the 70+ movies and TV appearances she enjoyed in a 46 year career. Unusually for a Karloff movie this one has a happyish ending.

Karloff at Columbia is being released as part of its Eureka Classics range by Eureka Entertainment on May 3 in a World first Blu-ray edition limited to 3,000 copies. The pack contains brand new audio commentaries and writing on all six films in an exclusive Collector's booklet.

 

DOC SPOT

Fans of BBC1's addictive Line of Duty series can also get some facts about police corruption to go with the fiction from an excellent three-hour, three part documentary on BBC2 and now iPlayer.

Bent Coppers:Crossing the Line of Duty explores that period in the late 60s and early 70s when Soho, London was awash with then illegal pornography and the pornographers paid high-ranking corrupt police officers millions at today's money values, in cash that went undeclared to HMRC, making it even more valuable. However it was the exposure of the corporate hospitality side that unraveled the whole smelly mess, courtesy of bent Commander Ken Drury, then head of the Flying Squad.

Drury, thinking himself untouchable, arrogantly went on a two week luxury holiday to Cyprus with his wife and another couple, pornographer Jimmy Humphreys and his stripper wife Rusty. In fact the holiday was paid for by Humphreys, as was another 50+ acts of hospitality lavished on Drury, along with big wads of cash for Drury allowing him to operate his lucrative business. At the time there was no anti-corruption squad investigating any of this and the whistle was blown by the Sunday People newspaper which questioned why the head of London's elite Flying Squd was spending a long holiday with a criminal he was supposed to be catching. For Drury this was the beginning of the end and in 1977 he was tried, convicted and jailed for eight years.

He wasn't the only highly placed one with his long arm of the law in the till. DCS Bill Moody, head of the Obscene Publications Squad aka the Dirty Squad was also a recipient of Humphrey's hospitality. He was also convicted of corruption and received a twelve year jail sentence, as did his boss, Commander Walter Virgo, who was then released after ten months on appeal only to die a few years later.

Sir Robert Mark, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in the 70s famously quipped that "a good police force is one that catches more crooks than it employs" Mark formed the A10 Anti-Corruption Squad and, on his watch, nearly 500 officers - some of the employed crooks, perhaps? - were dismissed or forced to resign.

 

FROM OUR READERS

From Bryan Williams
Dear Sirs

A correction re show arounds

Conference show arounds are permitted from Monday 29 March as business to business

Wedding show arounds hotels are permitting from 12 April when retail can open – there is some confusion at to if this should be delayed to 17 May

Some hotels are already doing show arounds - but we are sticking with the above

Kind regards
Bryan Williams

Editor's response: Best of luck with your re-opening

 

From Alan Turner-Smith
How can I find an organiser, probably an individual, who could quote to run a 2 or 3-day photographic exhibition for about 40 people on a campsite in Lincolnshire?

Thanks
Alan

Editor's response: Hope this publication helps

 

OLD GRIT'S DIARY

Tuesday
It really is depressing to read of the restaurants that have fraudulently fiddled the Eat Out to Help Out scheme brought in to help them survive. Reportedly one was caught by continuing to receive online reviews despite claiming to be closed. Another, which claimed to have sent all its workers home, had higher sales in August than it had before the pandemic.

And HMRC have also uncovered furlough fiddles with one company that threatened to sack its staff if they didn't work through the pandemic, even if ill, with the company still claiming furlough money meant to cover their wages. HMRC have managed to recover £357,000 of our money from this one. And they also recovered £13,800 from a restaurateur who was taking £2,500 a month in furlough money, claiming that the restaurant was closed yet still supplying take away food.

 

Thursday
Lobbyists, never the most respected of people, have now welcomed our former PM David Cameron to their grubby number.

Cameron demeaned himself with his ceaseless begging on behalf of his paymasters at failed Lex Geenshill. Ironically, and with more presience than he could have known at the time Cameron once declared that political lobbying would be "the next big scandal waiting to happen".

As if to bear him out the Grubbies have further mired themselves with the revelation that the chairman of our Government's lobbying watchdog is, er, a lobbyist...

 

Saturday
Meanwhile our cuddly PM has an increasing set of problematical questions to answer over the financing of the essential refurbishment of his flat, and whether or not he said that he would rather see dead bodies of coronavirus victims piled up in the streets than impose another lockdown.

Help in answering these questions is being selflessly offered by his formerly loyal top aide, Dom.

FOODIE NEWS

o Those organising catering for their delegates will be interested to hear that the once-hated Brussels sprout has been continuing to rise in popularity with diners.

o Good news for lovers of oysters - the price has come down significantly this year with Aldi offering six for £3.99 for Valentines Day. Sources also claim that the price could drop even further as the post-Brexit difficulties and costs of selling them to the EU persuade suppliers, growing in number, that the home market, even with lower revenues for the product, could be more profitable and considerably less hassle.

Whether or not the "gulps of the ocean" become a feature on up-market conference menus remains to be seen. Certainly the traditional slurp as the slippery bivalve slides, still alive, down throats will always be something of an acquired taste that many may not be too keen to acquire. However cooked oysters may have more of a chance, especially the simple fried version popular in Europe with twice-fried chips on the side. Old English beef and oyster pies could make a comeback, and spicy stir-frys could also find favour.

And all that lunchtime aphrodisiac could definitely make for interesting conference afternoons...

o Another post-Brexit development is the likelihood that the tasty, low-cost lamb, and hopefully mutton, could be back on menus as our government gets closer to finalising a free trade deal with New Zealand that was forbidden when we were under the thumb of the EU.

This is expected to reduce tariffs on both sides, paving the way for us to import lamb, beef, and wonderful New Zealand wines to wash them down with and for them to buy our cars and gin.

o Conference chicken, the favourite safe meat for organisers everywhere could be less of a feature in future as major outbreaks of avian flu have been ravaging flocks in Europe since last October.

A major supplier of chicken meat to UK hotels and restaurants, Birtwhistles, has advised that more than 20 million birds were destroyed earlier this month in Poland, the largest supplier of European poultry to the UK. Other poultry affected are ducks - in France 10 million have been culled.

Avian flu is mostly spread by wild bird contact with captive flocks, and can affect humans in contact, though good PPE keeps the risk low. 2020/2021 outbreaks have occurred in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. The highly pathogenic virus can be controlled by culling infected birds and vaccinating the healthy ones.

NEXT ISSUE

Donald Trump and Mike Pence explain why they should be above the law... HMRC gain in popularity with the public for their activities against furlough fraudsters... Lobbyists lose more respect with the public as it is realised that in many cases their activities act against the public interest. A recent poll puts them just below child molesters on a table of popularity... Police investigate a cryptic banner hung on the wall of 10, Downing Street. A spokesperson comments: "We have no idea of the meaning of DOM4PM"... and much, much more...

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Publisher's Note
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