HE SURVIVED the Great War and Spanish flu and yesterday Lord Grantham – aka the actor Hugh Bonneville – made his first public appearance since the end of series two of Downton Abbey to present the Walpole awards for excellence.

No austerity measures at the luxury body’s annual gathering, held in association with Coutts – just champagne and medals for the expensive end of the stock market: British Luxury Overseas for Mulberry, International Luxury Brand for Hermès and Best British Craftsmanship for Church’s shoes, as judged by sharp-suited property tycoon Nick Candy.

So there weren’t too many long faces among the leaders of the Western brands lifted out of the Eurozone gloom by spendthrift Asia-Pacific shoppers: Hermès managing director Thierry Outin, Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet and Jaguar Land Rover’s design director Gerry McGovern, to name but a well-heeled few.

Boosting the British economy, meanwhile, was McLaren Automotive’s chairman Ron Dennis, poised to issue a “call to arms” to UK manufacturers on Thursday, when he creates 300 new jobs by opening a £50m <a href=""; target="_blank">sports car</a> factory in glamorous Woking.

IT WOULD have been a contender for party of the year: a top-level gathering of private equity bosses held inside St Paul’s Cathedral.

“This will be a unique event thanks to the unprecedented access we have been granted to St Paul’s Cathedral and the exceptional mix of senior figures who will be joining the celebration,” trumpeted Private Equity International (PEI) magazine on its smart purple invitations to mark its tenth birthday and 100 issues on 29 November.

Alas, even the best-laid plans of private equity royalty can go astray when “barbarians at the gate” are hungry for the scalps of the Southern Cross infidels and their associates.

Cue a postponement of the party, which as yet has no new date. “We’ll be in touch,” assured PEI as the protesters bedded in for the long haul.

WHERE now for Alice Macandrew, the exiting Europe and Asia comms chief for News Corp, who resigned from the Murdoch empire in July over reported disagreements over the handling of the phone hacking scandal?

The Capitalist hears the well-regarded Macandrew is in hot demand in the jobs market since voluntarily quitting as James Murdoch’s chief press aide – so might she expect a job approach from financial PR firm Finsbury?

After all, Macandrew enjoyed a nine-year run at Roland Rudd’s operation, now RLM Finsbury, before moving to the News Corp hot seat in 2009.

“We’d love to have her back if she was interested,” said a Finsbury source. Over to Macandrew…