STOCK EXCHANGE VET TO STAGE WEST END MUSICAL COMEBACK

THE Stock Exchange Veterans dinner last night had the largest turnout in its 15-year history, with 470 brokers out in force at The Brewery.

The event’s organiser Bill Sharp, head of institutional sales at Alexander David, was delighted to “see so many old friends”, including Ron Martin, chairman of Southend United FC, Brian Winterflood of Winterflood Securities and Clive Sinclair-Holden, chief executive of Beowulf, the fastest-growing company on AIM this year.

Later, Martin Pope, sales trader at RBS, auctioned off the evening’s prizes, including “memorabilia from Wembley Stadium”, otherwise known as concrete in a presentational box. “It’s so bad, it’s brilliant,” said one guest.

The Capitalist also caught up with the Vets’ chairman Les Ames (pictured below), who found fame as a singer in the 1970s after performing his smash hit ballad Love Is All on Top of the Pops.

Ames declined to sing a song last night – “it’s not that type of audience darling” – but revealed he is in talks about taking part in a 70s hits show in the West End. “But I’m not sure I have the time,” said Ames, mindful of his day job as head of dealing at WH Ireland. “It’s a difficult circle to square.”

WEDDING CRASHER
TO BOISDALE of Canary Wharf for the grand opening of the latest whisky and cigar restaurant venture from the group’s colourful proprietor Ranald Macdonald.

Actress Jessica Lowndes of teen show 90210 had to cancel at the last minute – much to the disappointment of Roger Hambury, managing director of sponsor CityIndex – but the presence of Nancy Dell’Olio and Sky News political editor Adam Boulton more than made up for the loss.

Boulton was on mellow form as he enjoyed the live jazz from Ray Gelato and the Giants of Jive, telling The Capitalist he is looking forward to going back to his cub journalism roots by doing a spot of doorstepping.

The south doorstep of Westminster Abbey on 29 April, that is, where he will take up residence to cover the Wedding Of The Year.

PASSAGE TO INDIA
HOWEVER, no-one could top the exploits of Michael Herron, global head of legal at CityIndex, who is as we speak flying out to South India with two of his colleagues to drive 3,500km from Cochin in Kerala to Shillong in Meghalaya in a three-wheeled auto rickshaw with a lawnmower-sized engine.

“The roads are among the most dangerous in the world, even if you are driving a normal car,” Herron said. “And none of us are Hindu, so if we are unlucky enough to get hit by a truck, we don’t have a great belief we will be reincarnated as a Bollywood icon.”

Now that would be a story.

NOT TOO BIG TO FAIL
BACK to Boisdale bleary-eyed the following morning for yet another opening celebration in Cabot Place – this time for “the launch of lunch”.

No jazz and whisky here though; instead, City leaders including Simon Mansell, chief operating officer of GFT Global Markets, David Wiggin, founder of Ptarmigan Media and David Stuart, chief operating officer of Alpari, were treated to a spirited defence of capitalism by Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs (below).

“In the good times, I don’t remember people saying that since the bankers created the wealth, it wasn’t theirs to spend,” he said.

Littlewood went on to call the interim report from the Independent Commission on Banking “deeply confused”.

“We seem to be too concerned about preventing failure rather than providing a system within which banks can fail in an orderly fashion,” he said.

“Finding a mechanism to allow a bank to go to the wall so it is wound up sensibly, as Woolworths was wound up, is the Holy Grail.”