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CITY PHILANTHROPISTS LURED BY PROMISE OF SOME GOLDEN EGGS

OFF to the Merchant Taylors Hall on Threadneedle Street yesterday for what has become a stalwart of the City’s calendar – the annual Gulls’ Eggs lunch.

This year marked the 22nd anniversary of the affair, which has traditionally used the excuse of what must be the shortest season of any earthly foodstuff to bring hundreds together to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. (Gulls’ eggs, for those not in the know, are horrifically pricey, since they can only be gathered by a tiny handful of licensed organisations for just a couple of weeks a year. At Harrods, the greenish speckled beauties retail for around £4.50 a pop – while one of the City’s favourite eateries, Boisdale of Bishopsgate, just last week launched its own gulls’ egg omelette, with lobster, crab and truffles, for an eye-popping £90.)

All change in the ranks this year, though, as event founder Mark Cannon Brookes, a director at investment management firm Smith & Williamson, stepped aside as chairman. (He tells me he’s been doing it since gulls’ eggs were retailing at just 4p each, which sums up the impressive length of his tenure.)

In his place was parachuted Zoe Couper, chief executive of strategic communications advisory firm Couper and Partners, who managed to get takings for the event up from the previous average of around £70,000 to over £110,000 even before the lunch and the raffle had begun. A sterling effort all round.

IDENTITY CRISIS
It seems that even seasoned veterans of the City are left red-faced sometimes by a failure to recognise a well-known face.

Brian Winterflood, the founder of the market-making firm of the same name, was happily relaxing a few weeks ago at an election night party chez New Century Media, the PR outfit set up by former South Antrim MP David Burnside. After a couple of glasses of champagne, he got chatting to a leggy brunette who happened to be loitering around, but left without being advised as to her true identity.

A few days later, Winterflood was lunching with his wife Doreen at the Wolseley, when he spotted the very same lady sashaying past, and – naughty devil that he is – called her over with a cheeky “I’d recognise those legs anywhere!”

It wasn’t until a couple of minutes into the ensuing pleasantries that Doreen pointed out that the lady in question was actually Nancy Dell’olio, ex-England manager Sven Goran Eriksson’s former squeeze. Definitely one-nil to the ladies!

WORK ETHIC
If anyone knows how to really give a campaign legs, it should be a PR man – which means that St Brides Media and Finance co-founder Hugo de Salis’ latest ruse is likely to get off to a flying start.

De Salis is currently putting the finishing touches to an ad-hoc “Push the Button” campaign – a call to arms for City chums when they next find themselves flying British Airways.

The idea, for those who haven’t yet cottoned on, is to make sure you push the call button at least ten times on each flight – the idea being that if BA cabin crew members are going to demand higher salaries, they’ll have to earn them.

ART ON A PLATE
South African artist Paul du Toit, famed for his award-winning sculpture of Nelson Mandela’s hands, is in town next week for a one-off event which City workers won’t want to miss.

The artist is hosting an “Art on a Plate” day at Thames-side restaurant High Timber, when he’ll be creating culinary works of art for customers to eat for dessert. Each creation will see him create unique plates from a selection of dessert elements prepared by High Timber’s chef Justin Saunders, such as creams, pastries, cakes and chocolate. At £25 a pop, the clients will certainly be impressed. After all, they do say that the presentation of food is key to tantalising the tastebuds.

GLORY SUPPORTERS
Of all the analyst predictions for the upcoming World Cup – and there have been several – yesterday’s note from JP Morgan has got to be The Capitalist’s favourite.

JP Morgan analysts have been putting their quant model to extremely good use trying to predict the winner, and the result they’ve forecast as being the most likely is… drum roll… England to win!

To be fair to them, the analysts do point out that “Whilst this report should be taken with a pinch of salt, we find it an interesting exercise and an ideal opportunity to lightheartedly explain quantitative techniques and demystify the typical quant framework.”

But, past disappointments and traditional British scepticism aside, who are we mere mortals to question the science of such an alluring prediction?