John Bright: Down and Outs Prospering
The KPMG Christmas party proves hugely entertaining, as always.
First I bump into rope maker Peter Earp, some sort of very distant cousin of the legendary sheriff Wyatt Earp.
Peter, an aeroplane buff, was over in the States to practice mountain flying.
'It was the closest I have come to death,' he tells me.
It seems in tiny single engine planes you have to rely on up-drafts to get over the taller Rockies.
Which definitely put the wind up our hero.
I discover Central TV's Bob Warman, who is looking positively anorexic.
Lost a stone after a dose of the flu.
Then on to 'unemployment corner'.
I meet up with Mike and Jane Crossley, turned into multi-millionaires following the sale of their book empire, Remainders.
The pair are just back from the rugby World Cup where Mike signed 'unemployed' in the relevant place going through immigration.
They are chatting to Tom Nash, once of Singer & Friedlander, who is about to start at Morgan Stanley Quilter in Birmingham.
For the last three months he too has been unemployed, and is also just back from the World Cup.
'I have been on garden leave, not gardening leave,' he tells me. 'There's a big difference.'
And finally there is the unemployed John James, one-time Birmingham lawyer, who still has a bob or two to carry him over while 'between jobs'.
He hasn't been to the World Cup, thank goodness.
I am going to write to the Government and tell them these wasters should be sent on compulsory retraining courses.
Or did Gordon Brown announce that in the Pre-Budget?
And finally I stumble into Andy Moore, serial entrepreneur.
He has gone from the front of the telephone directory with 10 Group to the very back with his new vehicle, Zyzygy.
Try saying that when you've consumed a good few glasses of excellent KPMG Champagne.
Nick Venning, the 'brains' behind the recent charity sleep out for St Basils, didn't even take part, I can reveal.
Shameful! But at least he admits to the disgrace involving such 'bounder behaviour'.
He tells those who suffered in the cold: 'From a safe distance some 38,000ft somewhere over southern Greenland (on route Detroit and a warm and sumptuous Marriott residence), please may I offer my apologies for not being able to join you at St Basils.
'I will have to take my own medicine another day... although I certainly won't be volunteering to establish a downtown Detroit break-away sleep-out!' Still the lad does do lots for the homeless charity so we'll let him off.
Good to see that so many will still turn out to help St Basils in their vital work with young people.
Wolverhampton-based Cox Plant, the aggressively expanding nationwide plant hire specialist, has been enjoying lucrative television advertising free-of-charge courtesy of Jasper Carrott.
BBC One's popular Friday night sitcom All About Me starring Carrott as an archetypal Brummie builder has involved sequences filmed on construction sites with a large item of Caterpillar plant bearing a Cox sign stealing the limelight in many scenes.
Alerted to this fact by customers and employees, Cox managing director Keith Price is now a dedicated Friday night viewer of the sitcom armed with stop watch recording the growing volume of prime time broadcasting obtained by the logo. Coincidentally Price and Carrott share a common interest, both are lifelong fans of Birmingham City.
This season Cox is sponsoring the high visibility jackets of St Andrews' stadium stewards. All 250 of the bright orange garments are emblazoned with the Cox Plant hire logo printed big and bold across the rear shoulder panel.
Clearly Jasper Carrott and Keith Price have difficulty getting away from their day jobs. All About Me is now in its second series.
Crisis for Bank of Scotland staff ahead of a recent St Andrews Night celebration at the Hyatt Regency.
When the kilts arrived from a Birmingham dress hire firm there were ten of them... but just one sporran. Oh dear!
And isn't a kilt without a sporran officially a skirt?
There then followed frantic attempts to track down any spare sporrans in Birmingham, such that the Bank went to the extraordinary lengths of taxiing two into its city centre offices from Solihull.
I am told that the taxi firm at first refused to take them, presumably fearing this was some tartan terrorist plot. But eventually they relented.
But even then there was at least one example of a banker with no sporran and another with the 'wrong kind of socks'. Still, it was a great bash so who cares.
A rugby joke from CBI director general Digby Jones... What is the difference between an Australian scrum and Cinderella?
At least Cinderella got to the ball.
And Digby was in fine form at the farewell dinner of John Crabtree, who has stood down as senior partner of Birmingham-based lawyers Wragge.
Digby should have been in the Turks & Caicos islands on holiday with wife Pat.
Until Chancellor Gordon Brown delayed his Pre-Budget statement into Crabtree Week. And what will Crabtree do now?
Well, he has various non-executive directorships and charitable roles, but his wife Diana is certain of his new career path.
'He starts his paper round on January 1,' she told me.
Santas are set to get their skates on for charity next week in Birmingham.
Ernst & Young has teamed up with Cancer Research UK to host a fancy dress race taking place at the ice rink in Birmingham's Chamberlain Square.
E&Y will be fielding a number of teams for the big 'Santa on Ice' race, and the firm is throwing down the gauntlet by challenging other local businesses to compete and to raise money for charity.
The festive fun will begin at 11am on Tuesday and will consist of a number of heats, followed by a grand final at 1pm.
A prize-giving ceremony will follow at Bar 110.
E&Y is hoping to raise thousands of pounds from the event, which is part of its fundraising campaign for Cancer Research UK.
All of the cash raised through 'Santa on Ice' will go towards the charity's Little Star Appeal - a campaign to raise funds for the cancers, which affect children.
Ronnie Bowker, Ernst & Young managing partner in Birmingham, said: 'We are committed to supporting local charities and community projects and our people have been working hard throughout the year to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
'Santa on Ice promises to be great fun and we would like to see Birmingham's business community raising funds for charity in the spirit of goodwill.'
Teams already entered include Chesterton, Gateley Wareing, Co-operative Bank and PwC. Ann McKeown, corporate fundraiser at Cancer Research UK, said: 'Over 1,500 children each year are diagnosed with cancer and over the past 20 years tremendous work has been done to ensure that these children get the best possible treatment and ultimately a cure for their cancer.'
Personally, I just want to see Ronnie on his arse looking foolish.
A good laugh at Greville Edwards sports lunch this week. Featured Fergus Slattery, legendary Irish rugby star and a member of the British Lions in both 1971 and 1974.
Here's a couple of Slattery gags. What do you call those guys who hang around with rugby players? Backs.
I was watching the World Cup when these two New Zealanders smashed this South African.
Then two other New Zealanders smashed the first two New Zealanders. It was the Italy v France game.
And one on the Irish lineout codes where it was decided fruit meant the front jumper and car was for the back. This worked fine until the prop throwing in called Nissan Cherry.
A postscript to the 'Bear with Rupert' feature in last week's Bright column.
You may remember that Rupert Young, and others incidentally, at commercial property firm CB Richard Ellis are sending out caricatures to promote themselves.
But, it seems, this is by no means an original idea.
Here is Rupert being presented with his caricature a couple of days after the British Lions beat The Wallabies on tour on June 30, 2001.
David Brooks, from Solihull, tells me: 'I was on holiday with Rupert and his family at the time in Greece and, although this caricature was not quite as flattering as the one featured in your article, I could not have spent the time with a nicer chap!'
Anyway, here you are. None of this marketing glitz... this is what I call a caricature.
Ernst and Young Winter Olympic hopefuls Isabel Cook, managing partner Ronnie Bowker and Debbie Onions aim to impress the judges…
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Publication information: Article title: John Bright: Down and Outs Prospering. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Birmingham Post (England). Publication date: December 13, 2003. Page number: 18. © 2009 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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