YESTERDAY at the Square Mile Salute fundraising banquet, Boris Johnson said: “There are three things I want to share my appreciation for tonight, one – my appreciation for the armed forces, two – for Britain’s financial services and three – food.” The audience of the City’s finest chuckled while a fleet of waiters sailed round them offering canapés made by London’s best chefs.
The waiters’ military-style proficiency, however, was not what the assembled guests had turned out for. The banquet, held at the Guildhall, was an event offering the City an opportunity to support troops through Help for Heroes and meet Boris, General Sir Mike Jackson, former head of the army, and, er, Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame.
The fundraiser was launched last year by Paul Gayler, the head chef at the Lanesborough hotel, with the help of his friends and rivals at London’s top restaurants, including Sheraton Park Lane, the Hilton and Koffmann’s among others. Gayler says they came together because his son was injured in Afghanistan: “He wasn’t too seriously hurt. He was shot in the groin after ten days and can’t go back. It just brought home to me how important it is to support our boys.”
So what is the connection to the City? Gayler laughs: “It’s where the money is, of course. Plus City A.M. and others pitched in to make it happen.”
Enthusiastic supporters bid a whopping £8,000 for a two-week internship at City A.M in the auction. And in after hours trading, Lawson Muncaster, City A.M.’s managing director, took another £8,000 for the worthy cause in return for a second internship for the auction’s rival bidder.
Johnson showed some more love for the City by regaling the audience with stories from classical antiquity: “Boudica was this country’s first and most disastrous banker basher. It took more than a century for Britain’s economy to recover from it.”
Johnson’s aide shuffled him away before he could tell City A.M. whether he thought big bonuses – if donated to Help for Heroes – were a good idea. He did say, however, that the City’s “downstream effect was vital for growth.” An effect probably also
true of the guests’ stomachs after the fifth course.