YOU never know whom you will bump into for a chat in Davos, as its founder Klaus Schwab is always happy to remind us, calling this open dialogue “the spirit of Davos”. Nonetheless, the smartly clad Davos Diary was surprised to find herself hailed down urgently by none other than Lloyd’s of London chairman John Nelson (pictured) yesterday.

Was he looking to have a quick chat about the damaging impact of Solvency II on the nation’s pension plans?

Er, no. He was looking for a waitress.

We can only suggest he might have better luck with one of the women wearing the Belvedere Hotel’s waitress uniform.


At least some leaders were getting into the spirit, however.

The long line for the Belvedere coat check last night boasted a stream of illustrious figures – a Hinduja brother, a former Saudi head of intelligence, PR supremo Richard Edelman – all enjoying the novel experience of queueing.

And Davos Diary hears that not far down the Promenade, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was serving the wine himself in an intimate dinner at the Hotel Elli restaurant.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Sberbank was demonstrating its own kind of Davos spirit by hosting what it had billed to hacks earlier in the day as “big vodka party”.

And at the champagne-fuelled Forbes bash, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal was absorbed in conversation with an authoritative-looking brunette while a cheerful former US Treasury secretary Larry Summers quizzed the founder of an online home auction website on how much he would charge to sell his house.

It almost sounded like the federal government has a few repossessed homes to offload.