I do love to mingle with the great and the good whenever I get the chance and an event I attended this week gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. Those delightful people at Performing Artistes, JJ and Matt, plus their PR guru Alec, invited me to a speakers’ drinks party in the refined ambience of the Institute of Directors.
It was an excellent turnout and I spotted lots of famous faces – in fact, the effect was akin to being in a branch of Madame Tussaud’s where all the figures have come to life. There was Falklands hero Simon Weston, Olympic Gold medallist Tessa Sanderson and comedian Stephen K Amos for a start. They were joined by that doyenne of Fleet Street, Eve Pollard, a businessman best known for his infamous gaffe, former jewellery chain boss Gerald Ratner, and venerable broadcaster John Sargeant.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Simon for a brief chat – he was looking in the pink of health and confided that he’s stopped drinking (apart from a brief hiatus over the Christmas holidays – well, it would be rude not to really) and feels far better for it, having shed some weight as an unexpected benefit.
Tessa, who was wearing a gorgeous electric blue top, told me all about the kind of speaking engagements she’s asked to do – she works right across the board and is in demand for lots of different events, from high-profile corporate clients to school presentations. Her speaking duties don’t fase her in the slightest, but she admitted that she had recently undertaken a very nerve-wracking professional commitment: an episode of BBC quiz show Pointless Celebrities.
A trio of magicians was on hand to perform some very clever tricks with a balloon, a bottle and a tablecloth and further entertainment was provided by quick-witted Irish-Iranian stand-up artist Patrick Monahan and newcomer Chris Turner.
This young lad, a mere 24 years old, (he did bring out my motherly streak, I must confess) has an astonishing way with words that he showcased brilliantly in an impromptu rap routine incorporating various random words from the audience, such as triangle and euphemism.
I cornered him later to ask whether the words had been supplied by ‘plants’, but he assured me it was all genuine – quite astonishing, this guy is certainly one to watch. Now if only I can wangle it so that Mr P coughs up the necessary moolah, we could hire him to liven up this year’s AGM.