Event Organisers Update July 2021 ISSUE 200 - 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

SHAKE ON IT NOW?
Eons ago, it seems like, we'd read somewhere that being touched was the thing that made our delegates feel most included and welcome when they first walked into a crowd of strangers. So we played the game on the meet and greet and stood at the door to the tea and coffee section, shaking hands with every delegate who came in and thanking them for coming.

Question is should you be doing this now, and should your delegates be shaking hands with each other?

Probably not in the current pandemic as we have become a nation of safer fist and elbow bumpers, and sometimes high-fivers. This view is borne out by research at Aberystwyth University which indicates that high-fiving is twice as hygienic as handshakes and fist bumping is 20 times safer (no data yet on elbow bumps, but these don't usually feature the skin to skin contact that can pass on infections).

Perhaps the slight, respectful bow of the head favoured by our Oriental community is now the safest of all?

 

COVID CORNER

o Reality TV participant and far-right commentator Katie Hopkins has been deported from Australia for boasting of flouting quarantine rules, taunting her guards and opening her quarantine hotel room door without a face mask on. In January this year a French tourist was deported for his part in an illegal New Year rave in Queensland that attracted more than 1000 people.

o  An Australian clothing company, Lorna Jane, has been fined £2.68 million for claiming that its products could prevent Covid, claims a judge deemed to be "Exploitative, predatory and dangerous".

o  A Dutch court has handed down a prison sentence of one year, six months suspended, to a 21 year old man convicted of arson at a Covid test site. A 16 year old boy, also convicted, received 180 days of youth detention, with 131 days suspended.

o  Infections of Covid have soared in The Netherlands following the re-opening of nightclubs, described by some as "disaster zones", along with music festivals, bars, restaurants and cafes. Prime minister Mark Butte has admitted that he and his government had "totally underestimated" the effect of the re-openings.

o  Scams continue to infest the pandemic. In Lima, Peru, nine people have been arrested for charging £15,120 for an intensive care bed and treatment at a free, state run hospital, and those arrested include hospital administrators. In the UK scammers are trying to charge for fake Covid vaccine passports. The genuine ones are free to anyone who has had their jabs from the NHS.

o  Schoolchildren have been viewing clips on Tik-Tok which show how they can fake a positive lateral flow test with a range of commonly available liquids and get sent home from school, along with their classmates. The 17 year old who posted the clips, Amar, claims he did it because he was "bored" and that they were "just for fun".

o  One of the best ways of stopping indoor transmission of Covid, and the one largely ignored by our government in all its advice to us, is to open enough doors and windows to allow a through-draught , especially important in our coming winter.

 

LIVERPOOL LOSES UNESCO STATUS
Liverpool's historic waterfront is to be stripped of its coveted Unesco status as a World Heritage Site after 13 out of 21 countries voted for its deletion.

Unesco say that the planning approval for Everton's new £500 million stadium at Bramley Moore Dock, and the approval of the £5billion Waters Project at the Northern Docks "signalled a lack of commitment to protect the property in the long-term".

 

BEWARE
A screenshot of a listing on accommodation booking website Vrgo seems to indicate some seriously predatory pricing for staycations in Cornwall.

Conservative councilor Paul Nickerson was trying to book a three bedroom place for a week for his family when he was shown a "wonderful, contemporary waterside house" in St Ives that the site was offering for £71, 627, for the week in August, or just £10, 232 per night.

After all the bad publicity the listing was quickly taken down, so we'll never know if it was a simple mistake, or a UK record rip off.

MOVIE SPOT

ATLANTIC CITY (1980)
There are very few films that this reviewer watches three times before reviewing, but the enjoyment of this one made it well worth the time.

It's the Louis Malle directed story of elderly petty criminal, the quite likable loser Lou Pascal, masterfully played by Burt Lancaster in what many critics felt was his last great role, and up to his performance as the steely, thoroughly unpleasant gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker in The Sweet Smell Of Success (1957), along with a superb turn by Tony Curtis as his fawning agent, and the aristocratic prince Fabrizio di Salina in the cult classic from Luchino Visconti The Leopard (1963) Certainly all three films are featured in the excellent and influential directory 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Though Lou claims to have been associated with the great master criminals of yesterday - Al Capone and Ben "Bugsy" Seigel no less - these days he scratches a living acting as a runner (bet collector) for an illegal penny-ante numbers racket amongst the poor of the city. For those unfamiliar with how these work punters pick a daily three-figure number to bet on, often with as little as 25 cents. The number they are trying to pick is made up from the totals of bets placed on horses at a local racetrack for Win, Place and Show bets, and published in a local newspaper The Win bets will be for horses to win their race, the Place bets for horses to run first or second and the Show bets for horses to run first second or third. The three figure number is then created from the last full-dollar amount shown for amounts wagered on Win/Place/Show, in that order. An example makes it easier - Win bets $2457.05, Place bets $1023.00, Show bets $345.00, the number created, and the one the punters will want to hit, is 735.

In fact Lou also makes a little more money looking after, in a number of ways, Grace Pinza, the domineering and unlivable widow of his former gangster employer, played convincingly and with great relish by the excellent Kate Reid, who would go on to impress in 1985 reprising her stage role as Linda Loman, the put-upon wife of dreamer Willy Loman in the film version of Death Of A Salesman, alongside Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovitch. Grace lives in an apartment in a crumbling and condemned building in the city's poor area with Lou living in an apartment directly above. A bell has been rigged up in Lou's apartment with the pull-cord by Grace's bedside, so she can call him whenever she wants him to do something for her, which is often Next door to Lou lives Sally Matthews, a lovely young waitress played by the lovely young Susan Sarandon, who works in a seafood bar at a casino, and has ambitions to become a blackjack dealer in Monte Carlo, for which she is training in Atlantic City. Before going to bed each night she cuts up lemons and massages the juice into her arms, neck and breasts, "to get rid of the fish stink". Unseen, outside the window, Lou watches and fantasises.

The story takes a lurch for the worst when Sally is outraged by her feckless ex-husband Dave arriving in town with his new, very pregnant wife Chrissie, who is Sally's younger sister that Dave ran off with, and Dave expects Sally to put them up in her apartment. There are two strong character turns here with Chrissie played by Hollis McClaren and Dave played by Robert Joy. In fact Dave has stolen some pure cocaine from the Mob in Philadelphia and wants to use Sally's apartment to store it, cut (dilute) it and sell it. Things start to really crack off when Lou meets Dave and agrees to help him sell the cocaine, not realising that one smooth and nasty mobster, Felix, well played by Canadian TV and theatre producer Moses Znaimer, and one brutal and nasty mobster, Vinnie, well played by Angus MachInnes, have arrived in Atlantic City and want their cocaine, or the cash made from selling it, back...

 

RUNNING AGAINST THE WIND (2019)
More nasty gangsters contrast with the uplifting themes in this endearing new tale of friendship, family love, growing up and inspiration in Ethiopia, seen by some as a love letter to the country by German director Jan Philipp Weyl, who wanted to make his debut film about street children and their struggles.

It features two boys, 12 year olds living in a remote village in rural Ethiopia when we first meet them. Abdi has big dreams about being a top runner and his inspiration is the real life Ethiopian champion Haile Gebreselassie, with dozens of world records set and two Olympic Golds and fairly described as one of the greatest distance runners in history. Solomon's inspiration comes when a humanitarian worker and keen photographer played by director Jan Philipp Weyl visits the village and takes both the boys on an eye-opening trip to the capital, Addis Ababa. When back Solomon, with his heart now set on being a photographer, thanks his mentor by stealing his expensive camera and heading on back to the big city.

Ten years on, with the two boys in their twenties, Solomon played by Mikiyas Wolde has settled in the city surrounded by the love of his new wife, Genet (Samwarit Desalegn) and cherubic three year old daughter, as well as the ambition to be a professional photographer. Problem is he and his family are also surrounded by poverty, suffering and crime, and Solomon has got involved with a gang of criminal thugs. Meanwhile Abdi, played by Ashenafi Nigusu has stayed in the village and is doing rather better, honing his running skills, winning championships and even meeting up with and sitting next to his inspiration at a sports event, a cameo part for Haile Gebrselassie. Moving to Addis Ababa to follow his running dreams Abdi starts to search for his long-lost friend...

Running Against The Wind is blessed with some seriously good cinematography and is being released by Eureka Entertainment next month on Blu-ray as part of the Montage Pictures range, with the first 1,000 copies including a limited edition collector's booklet with an interview with the director by film writer Jason Wood.

DOC SPOT

One documentary that anyone who follows an influencer, or knows someone who does, should see is Bad Influencer: The Great Insta. Con, now available on BBC i-Player.

This charts the rise and fall of Australian influencer, Belle Gibson, who launched herself in August 2013 as a wellness warrior, claiming that her diet of super-healthy foods had cured her brain cancer. Certainly she looked the picture of young, glowing health, as some fawning TV presenters and magazine editors were quick to point out. Apparently Penguin Books published a cook book by her and didn't require her to substantiate her claims, a line also reportedly taken by Apple for the app they produced for her.

Some were rather more questioning about her claims, including freelance journalist Richard Guilliatt who gave her a probing interview, after which he says she called him up to warn him that some people exposed in the press had taken their own lives. Seeing this as a thinly veiled threat to stop him publishing Guilliatt went ahead and The Austrailian published, in March 2015, a piece entitled A Healthy Dose of Scepticism About Belle Gibson, which laid bare many of the lies Gibson had told, about having cured brain cancer with her healthy diet, about the four further cancers she had contracted since, about her age. One former friend (anonymous) opined "Belle likes to lie". Two weeks later Penguin had removed her book from its lists, Apple had scrubbed her app and thousands of her 200,000 claimed followers worldwide had written to denounce her, some to revile her for giving genuine cancer sufferers dangerously false hope. The game was up for the girl who liked to lie and described by Guilliatt as "a very fragile person whose grip on reality was tenuous".

Since then life has got more difficult for Belle, especially when it was discovered that her claim to have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities was found to be, yes, another lie, and she has been fined $ 230,000 for the fraud, a fine that has reportedly not yet been paid.

This month journalist Ed Power, writing about this documentary pointed out that "The wellness industry chugs on and social media is still full of people selling ersatz versions of themselves". He also warned "On the internet the truth routinely takes a back seat to fake sages telling people what they want to hear".

FOODIE NEWS

o Food items featuring cruelty in their supply are coming under scrutiny in a new bill to ban them from import to the UK being considered by Environment Secretary George Eustice.

On the list is pate de foie gras, a rich and, for many, delicious liver pate made from the enlarged livers of force-fed birds and mostly imported by us from France. Politicians against its ban include Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Conservative's Chief Whip Mark Spencer. Currently both Houses of Parliament have stopped serving it and major stores such as Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Selfridges and Harvey Nicholls have stopped selling it.

The bill, which may be introduced in this parliamentary session, will also look at another cruelty food, shark's fin, where sharks are caught and their fins hacked off before the rest of the maimed animal, which has no commercial value, is dumped back in the water and, unable to swim, spirals down to the sea bed to die. Also considered will be fur, and trophies from hunting.

OLD GRIT'S DIARY

Monday
Good to hear that some heavy-handed and offensive legal tactics from Amazon against small retailers have now been withdrawn.

Amazon have apparently registered as a trade mark the phrase "Prime Day" to describe the offer of two days of online deals and offers for its Prime members. Meanwhile for years, and certainly pre-dating Amazon founder and world's richest man Jeff Bezos, the fish selling trade has used the term "Prime Day Boat Fish" to describe fish that have been sustainably caught from boats that have only spent a day at sea. Hence when London fishmonger Moxons received a letter from Amazon's solicitors ordering them to stop using the term Mr Moxon himself phoned them up to put them straight, and received a prompt apology.

Could it be that Bezos and his legal team, in all innocence, have only ever known fish as fish fingers?

 

Wednesday
Given the failure of the Penguin book empire to check the veracity of the claims to have had cancer made by Australian influencer and fraudster Belle Gibson before they went to press on her book (see DOC SPOT above) it will be interesting to know what checks, if any, will be made in the case of Prince Harry's upcoming new memoir about his life in the Royal Family. How will Penguin verify the claims made, and with whom? And does it matter anyway to the kind of people who read this kind of stuff whether it's true or not?

Already there are storm clouds gathering over the alleged £14.5 million book, which the Prince has promised will be "An accurate and wholly truthful account of my life in the Royal Family" with commentators concerned that more cruel blood-letting, is not what our 95 year old Queen needs at this point in her life, and that the Prince's move is "very regrettable".

We won't be buying it.

 

Thursday
Much rejoicing in the hospitality industry as figures reveal that many millions of pints went down the necks of England football fans watching their team play in Euro 2020.

The industry has probably had the worst 18 months ever, and deserves a little good fortune.

 

Saturday
Recent polls indicate that our lovable PM's overall approval rating, the proportion of people in favour less those against, now stands at -6, down from +9 when he and his government were buoyed by the success of the NHS vaccine roll-out. Apparently most voters (50-56%) believe he is not honest, organised, trustworthy or consistent in his decision-making.

Ah well, nobody's perfect, and he has got a unique hairstyle.

NEXT ISSUE

Handshaking is banned at meetings worldwide with elbow bumping and slight head bows recommended by organisers. Delegates are also recommended to dress warm for all the open windows this winter... Seekers looking for accommodation stop using the Vrgo website... Jeff Bezos and his legal team at Amazon reject suggestions that the only fish they know is fish fingers. An anonymous spokesperson states "We all like those goujons and crispy cod bites too"... The Penguin book empire pulls out of its lucrative deal on Prince Harry's memoir. An anonymous spokesperson states "On reflection publishing anything that could further upset our Queen, to no defensible purpose, could make us the most reviled publishers on the planet"... The government announces its latest messaging to boost the hospitality industry and is confident that much good will come from HELP HOSPITALITY - STAY PISSED... Approval ratings for Boris jump from -6 to +15... and much, much more...

ANNOUNCEMENTS

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