John Bright: Down and Outs Prospering

Article excerpt

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.

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