Event Organisers Update June 2021 ISSUE 199 - 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

MANCHESTER ARENA MANAGEMENT "TRULY SORRY"
SMG, the operator of Manchester Arena, has said it is truly sorry for the May 2017 bombing tragedy that killed 22 visitors to the Ariana Grande concert and injured hundreds more, including many children.

A proposed law requiring large venues to offer more protection to its customers has been backed by Sir John Saunders, chairman of the enquiry into the tragedy who has also spoken of a number of opportunities to detect the bomber, 22 year old Manchester born Libyan Salman Abedi as a threat that were missed. Security arrangements, says Sir John, "should have prevented or minimised the devastating impact of the attack. They failed to do so".

SMG have stated that the fact that the security standards they adopted were in line with published industry guidance at the time gave them "no comfort".

The possible gap between what is sensible and adequate protection and what is legally required was starkly illustrated by the number of lifeboats on the ill-fated Titanic. She could have carried 64, accommodating the ship's capacity of 3547 people. In fact her chief engineer planned for 48 and this was eventually cut to 20 by White Star Line to stop the deck looking "too cluttered". This was perfectly legal under Maritime law of the time but left more than 2,000 souls to perish in the freezing seas.

 

LEGAL ACTION AGAINST ONE GOVERNMENT COVER-UP
The live music and theatre industries have launched a legal action against the Government to force the publication of the results from the May Events Research Programme. (Access All Areas)

The results, leaked to the press some weeks ago, showed that out of 58,000 people attending a variety of indoor and outdoor events without wearing face masks or social distancing, a total of 15 contracted Covid as a result of attending. The events tested included an outdoor concert for 5,000 in Liverpool's Sefton Park, which generated two of the infections. Several football matches and the BRIT Awards generated none of the infections. A snooker tournament caused four infections and two nightclub events caused nine.

Many more infections have been recorded in Cornwall following the Government's G7 Summit held there, with the area experiencing the fastest growing rates of infection of any county in the UK, and specific areas where G7 events were held showing rates rising more than 4,000 per cent. Perhaps unsurprisingly public health officials in Cornwall are blaming the thousands of staycationers, rather than the 20,000 international visitors at G7, for the surge in infections, although the same thing hasn't happened in other popular tourist spots. And they are currently refusing to publish the results of the risk assessment made for the event, all of which smells strongly of another grubby cover-up.

 

UNETHICAL BOOKINGS
The current habit of holidaymakers "spreadbooking" holidays with two or more operators, often one in the UK and one overseas, and then cancelling the ones they don't want at the last minute has been condemned as highly unethical.

It has been encouraged by some operators allowing the late cancellation with a full refund or no penalty. Those who charge a non-refundable deposit and allow bookers to carry this through to a later booking are usually happy with the arrangements made.

One operator commented that free cancellation was a "business killer" and the restaurant equivalent of the no-show and those who exploited it were exhibiting "appalling behaviour in good times but totally unacceptable in Covid times", especially after "the 15 months we have all had in the hospitality sector".

 

TOUGH CALLS
Pilots and cabin crew at Hong Kong airline Cathy Pacific have been warned that if they don't get vaccinated against Covid they could lose their jobs. And US carrier United Airlines have told staff that only the fully vaccinated will be able to work on flights to high-risk destinations around the world.

In Moscow the authorities have ordered all workers who deal with the public to get vaccinated or take a different job. The jobs for which vaccination is now obligatory include retailers, hairdressers, taxi drivers, teachers, bank tellers and performers.

 

TEENAGE WAITER SHOWS US HOW
A 16 year old waiter at the Jazz Cafe, Doncaster, has saved the life of a 7 year old girl by using the Heimlich manoeuvre on her when she was choking.

In just his second day in full-time work Jack Smithson heard panicked screaming from the girl's grandmother, who had her fingers down the girl's throat, trying to pull the lethal obstruction out. First-aid trained Smithson knew this was dangerously wrong in that it could have pushed the obstruction further in, making things worse, so stood behind the girl and reached around, joining his hands and sharply compressing the diaphragm to force air pressure behind the obstruction and push it out.

Fortunately after four tense tries this worked, the girl coughed up the obstruction and went home alive.

Now, shouldn't every event organiser be taking a first aid course that includes instruction in what to do to save a life when one of their delegates starts choking at an event involving food?

 

CONFEX POSTPONED
Event Industry exhibition Confex, due to run June 22-23 has been postponed till early September, when it will run at Excel, Docklands.

Organisers Mash Media, who have also postponed the PA Show and the Publishing Show have blamed the current rise in Covid infections.

VENUE NEWS

o  Twenty hotels in Rio de Janeiro are to be converted to residential use, following the slump in trade caused by the Covid pandemic there.

Most will convert to luxury residences and the list includes the Hotel Gloria, the art-deco themed Hotel Payssandu and the 17-storey Flamenco Palace, with views of the Flamenco Beach.

 

o  After 100 years of being closed to the public the Old War Office Building, which once included offices for Winston Churchill, is to open soon as a luxury hotel outpost run by Raffles Hotels and Resorts of Singapore.

This will offer 125 rooms and suites, nine restaurants, bars and a spa.

MOVIE SPOT

I NEVER CRY (2020)
"Euro-Orphans" is the name given by Polish film writer and director Piotr Domalewski to the potentially millions of children who grow up with one parent or another absent because they have emigrated in search of work that will enable them to send a regular paycheck home for their estranged family.

Such a child is Ola who lives with her mother and disabled brother in Poland while her father works on the docks in Dublin. Played by 22 year old Polish actress Zofia Stafiej, in an impressive debut that won her the 2020 best actor in a debut award at the Polish Film Festival in Gydnia, Ola is a hard bitten, streetwise and rebellious 17 year old who doesn't do emotion, hence the title. The film opens with her taking her third driving test, which she badly needs to pass as her father has promised her a car when she does. Sadly it's not to be. Her telephone has a rebellious ringtone on it - "effing police, effing police" - and goes off twice, the second time enough to distract her and make her swerve violently and screech to a halt when someone cuts in front of her. She then compounds the error by getting out in a fit of road rage and kicking her protagonist's car, breaking off the number plate. This does not go down well with her examiner, and nor does attacked by the selfish driver and knocked to the ground, guaranteeing Ola a definite fail.

When her father, who Ola barely knew, is reported dead after a docks accident it is Ola who is the only person who can travel to Ireland and bring home his body, because she is the only one in the family who speaks English, and her mother has to stay and look after her disabled brother. Anyway she wants to go to find out if there is any money coming to her for a car, as he had promised So the stage is set for the real coming of age of Ola as she gets drunk with young new-found friends in Dublin, like you do, and fights officialdom, and the uncaring employer of her father, in her own streetwise way, such as breaking into offices to steal files and other thieving. When she cant identify his corpse at the morgue she realises how little she knew him and her search changes from trying to find her money to getting more information about him so she can get to know him better.

There is a strong supporting cast for I Never Cry, with a standout for this viewer being Cosmina Stratan, who plays the mysterious hairdresser's assistant Sara, reputedly Ola's father's mistress, who is being sexually abused by her employer. Stratan, a beautiful 37 year old Romanian journalist and actress with large, hypnotic eyes won a shared Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival with her co-star Cristina Flutur for her debut performance in Beyond The Hills. This was a highly rated 2012 Romanian film about two young women in a physical relationship, which collapses when one is subjected to a violent and lethal exorcism by Romanian nuns.

I Never Cry is being released by Eureka Entertainment in UK and Ireland cinemas from July 23.

 

THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD (1965)
" What the hell do you think spies are? Moral philosophers measuring everything they do against the word of God or Karl Marx? They're not. They're just a bunch of seedy, squalid bastards like me, little men, drunkards, queers, henpecked husbands, civil servants playing "Cowboys and Indians" to brighten their rotten little lives. Do you think they sit like monks in a cell, balancing right against wrong?"

This angry and self-loathing outburst, one to make James Bond choke on his shaken martini, was a highlight in the gritty film that many regard as Richard Burton's best ever, as he played the bitter, washed-up Alac Leamus playing the part of a defector to the East, disillusioned with his employers in the British Intelligence service and ready to get out and sell their secrets to the highest bidder. As part of his cover he gets drunk and beats up a grocer to get arrested and imprisoned. When out he is approached by a succession of East German contacts, which sets the stage for a squalid and seedy experience in cross and double-cross that becomes his downfall. 007 he isn't.

As well as Burton's much-admired and award-winning performance - he and the film won Baftas, Tony's and a David di Donatello award as well as one of his seven Academy Award nominations - the rest of a starry cast provide much pleasurable viewing, not least Claire Bloom CBE as the beautiful young librarian Nan Perry, whose naiveté irritates Leamus to his outburst. Cyril Cusak makes a wonderfully silky Control who sets his spy his last, most dangerous mission, Peter Van Eyck makes a very believably evil head of the East German intelligence service, Hans-Dieter Mundt, a former Nazi that Leamas is sent to discredit, with the help of Mundt's second in command, Fiedler (Oskar Werner - who picked up a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture).

Fielder believes that his boss, Mundt, is really a double agent working for the British and wants him exposed, and shot. The path of Leamas to Fiedler is via a succession of increasingly senior East German operatives. The pathetic Ashe, who makes the first contact with Leamas when he comes out of prison is an impressive cameo role from Michael Hordern, who has featured in other Burton films. Ashe passes Leamas onto the brutally glacial Dick Carlton, played by one of Burton's old friends Robert Hardy CBE and Carlton passes him up to Peters, the last contact before Fiedler played by actor/director Sam Wannamaker, the man who was most responsible for getting Shakespeare's Globe Theate in London up and running. James Bond fans might recognise the grocer that Leamas beats up, Patmore, played by Bernard Lee, 007's gruff boss, "M".

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is closely based on the 1963 John Le Carre novel of the same name and was released in Blu-ray format for the first time last month by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema Series. The pack includes a brand new audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin, a brand new and very watchable video essay Cold Light, and a 48-page collector's booklet.

CATCH-UP TV

TIME (2021)
Those many viewers who enjoyed Jimmy McGovern's much-lauded and deserving TV dramas - including Cracker (1993-1995), The Lakes (1997) and Hillsborough (1996) - will recognise his realistic style and intuitive grasp of what makes drama dramatic in his latest work, Time, a bleak, affecting and gritty prison tale now streaming on BBC i-Player.

In three parts this features some powerhouse acting from its two leads, Sean Bean, (who also featured in an episode of McGovern's 2010-2012 Accused TV anthology and 2017 TV series Broken)  playing Mark Cobden, the mild-mannered, guilt-wracked teacher given four years for killing a cyclist while driving drunk, and Stephen Graham, who many will remember as the UCO (Under Cover Officer) in the fifth series of Line of Duty, here playing the experienced and respected prison officer Eric McNally, who is mercilessly blackmailed into committing crimes by the terrifying psychopath Jackson Jones, who finds out that McNally's son is an inmate in another prison and can be got at to pile pressure on McNally.

Jones is convincingly played by Brian McCardie, who also played the very nasty operator of an OCG (Organised Crime Group) Tommy Hunter in an early series of Line of Duty. He certainly isn't the only nasty that the amiable Cobden clashes with as he settles into the routine of prison life as another psychopathic inmate, Johnno, an excellent turn by James Nelson-Joyce, embarks on a programme of violent bullying. Cobden also has to cope with his first cell-mate Bernard (Anurin Barnard) being a suicidal self-harmer, and Cobden's drunken driving offence and trial haunting his nightmares. There is also a bad let-down from one of his close family, and a tragedy involving his father, and you soon start to wonder how much more this basically decent man who once made a lethal mistake can take.

There are, however some good human beings in there to balance the bad ones. As an excellent five-star review by Lucy Mangan in The Guardian points out there is the kindness showed by Cobden to some of his fellow inmates, as well as McNally's efforts to keep his wing in order even as he reluctantly succumbs to the foul blackmail of Jones. And there is the obvious loving bond between McNally and his wife Sonia (Hannah Walters) and the seriously saintly prison chaplain Mary-Louise (Siobhan Finneran) who knows how to practically help Cobden with his family tragedy. As Manghan says "Time well spent".

OLD GRIT'S DIARY

Wednesday
Four Instagram influencers have been the first to be named by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for not making it clear that their posted recommendations are actually paid-for advertisements.

They are Chloe Ferry, Chloe Khan, Jodie Marsh and Lucy Mecklenburgh. All were warned by the ASA that they were publishing misleading advertising and sought assurances that they would label their paid for posts as ads in future. All four either didn't respond, or gave assurances that they would comply and then broke them.

Seriously not to be trusted then.

 

Saturday
Sorry to hear that GB News (Freeview 236), the dedicated news TV channel headed by veteran broadcaster Andrew Neill, has got off to such a rocky start. On the serious side it has been the subject of a damaging advertising boycott by such as Swedish firms Ikea and Kopparburg cider and Octopus Energy, who have all bravely bowed to pressure on social media from left-wing zealots, an aspect that culture secretary Oliver Dowden describes as "undermining democracy".

There have also been problems with sound quality, and on the less serious side their newsreaders have been targetted with letters sent in signed by false names that sound amusingly rude when read out on air. These include Mike Oxlong, Hugh Janus and Jenny Taylia. Presenter Simon McCoy reacted badly by slamming the "idiots" sending them in, portraying the maverick anti-woke channel as perhaps taking itself a little too seriously when stressed.

 

Tuesday
Really sad to learn that our government have so easily succumbed to the blackmail from football body Uefa for 2,500 of Uefa and Fifa officials, sponsors, politicians, broadcasters and various other hangers-on to attend the Europe 2020 games at Wembley without having to quarantine like everyone else has to.

Apparently we have also agreed higher spectator limits for later events under threat of them being moved to outside the UK from Uefa, and our grovelling compliance and wish to suck up to Uefa is not unconnected with collecting Uefa votes for our bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

Pathetic or what?

FOODIE NEWS

o Like most others your editor has had to rely more and more on online purchases of food and has lately been trying dried mushrooms of various types. Being neighbours with a couple who also love their food we gladly let them have samples of the six different ones we bought for them to rehydrate, cook and try and they kindly reported back their views to add to our own scores, as below. Most rehydrate to four or five times their dry weight. Scores out of ten added together to get final total out of 30 and in descending order.

1.   20  Chinese Black mushrooms, whole, also called "Shiitake" on the paperwork. From Tradewinds, £25.83/kilo plus shipping "Chewy, savoury/strong flavour, garlicky".

J2.  17 Dried Tree Oyster mushrooms, whole, British grown, from Cambridge Mushrooms. £48/kilo plus shipping. "Strong and pleasant flavour, dense texture, truffle hint".

J2.  17  Dried Porcini mushroom pieces, China, from Wholefoods Online. £59.20/kilo plus shipping. "Earthy, savoury, sweet, nutty, dense texture".

J4.  15  Dried Forest mushroom pieces, China, from Wholefoods Online  £65.40/ kilo plus shipping. "Earthy umami flavour, not strong, nice texture".

J4.  15  Dried Pearl Oyster mushrooms, British Grown, from Cambridge Mushrooms. £48/kilo plus shipping  "Subtle, pleasant flavour/Nondescript, too subtle flavour".

6.  10  Dried Sliced Shiitake mushrooms, China, from Wholefoods Online. £80/kilo plus shipping. "Very chewy, not much flavour, strong aftertaste".

Worth noting that the cheapest mushrooms get the highest score, and the most expensive the lowest. Thanks to our two tasters, Hazel and Aaran, who knew nothing about the prices.

DRINKS NEWS

o Brexit problems are affecting fans of the Pornstar Martini, we hear, on account of the increasing difficulties of getting one main ingredient, Passoa passion fruit liquor. This 17% ABV specialist drink is usually available in our supermarkets for £12 a 70cl bottle, but is now "impossible to get" say some. Also affected are vermouths, along with some wines and spirits.

One alternative is substituting the Passoa with real passion fruits - four per serving. Or to wait till one of the countries that we are newly trading with comes up with an alternative to replace the European sourced product.

Meanwhile the creator of this popular cocktail has revealed that it was given its name because it was thought to be the kind of tipple a pornstar would drink. Bottoms up, then?

 

o  A new report has identified the South Downs National Park as being a suitable hub for a huge increase in post-Brexit English wine-making.

Currently only 0.4% of the agricultural land in the 87 mile park is used for viticulture -comprising 51 vineyards and 11 wineries - against the 34% that could be used - creating 800 full time jobs and a contribution of £127million to the UK economy.

There is also thought to be the possibility of 75,000 visits by tourists, (and corporate hospitality and incentive groups?) with the huge increase in wine production.

NEXT ISSUE

Following the Manchester Arena bombing enquiry more venues realise the worrying shortfall from "published industry guidance" to sensible security standards… Government sources admit they sat on results that might have opened events earlier to coincide with the delay to lifting restrictions… Hospitality businesses realise that allowing late cancellation of bookings with no penalty is just shooting themselves in the foot… Trust in influencers is further eroded as more names of those who mislead are added to the ASA black list… As well as not being required to quarantine when visiting the UK the Uefa entourage is treated to a gourmet gala dinner where British politicians file in to lick their shoes and leave presents, and full diplomatic immunity to cover any crimes they might commit while here… and much, much more…

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Publisher's Note
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