Business diary: Stewart has audience bowled over

Marshall Dallas outside the EICC. Picture: Jane Barlow

Marshall Dallas outside the EICC. Picture: Jane Barlow

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CRICKETING legend Alec Stewart had his work cut out at West Lothian Chamber of Commerce’s spring gathering, before a Scots audience whose sporting passions most likely lay elsewhere.

But the former England captain, nicknamed The Gaffer during his highly-capped 1990s career, gave an impassioned after-dinner speech that may have even converted some to the game.

Stewart, who actually set out as a footballer and remains an ardent Chelsea fan, had those gathered at Edinburgh’s Norton House Hotel in stitches with his anecdotes from tours with “thick” teammates Darren Gough and Phil “Tuffers” Tufnell – some of which can be repeated.

Undoubtedly the biggest laugh was provided by an insight into Tuffers’ breakfast demands, and his desire to get his nashers stuck into a bacon roll after seven weeks going cold turkey, so to speak, while touring Pakistan.

Hours after jetting into New Zealand, an expectant Tufnell had ordered two rounds of his favourite morning meal only to be told after a lengthy wait that the hotel had not had its delivery yet.

Branding the summoned manager an “idiot”, and possibly a few more colourful names, a perfectly seriou Tuffers demanded: “How come in a country with 15 million sheep you can’t get a bacon sarnie?”.

On the button

Amid angry scenes at the Alliance Trust annual meeting as shareholders vented their frustration at being denied a vote on a boardroom tussle with US hedge fund Elliott Advisors, technological teething troubles brought a bit of levity to proceedings.

One investor was invited to pose a question by the trust’s chair, Karin Forseke, prompting some momentary confusion among those holding their fancy electronic handsets.

“Sorry,” the sheepish shareholder eventually admitted. “I hadn’t realised that I’d pressed the button.”

Not so sparkling repartee

The champagne was flowing freely at upmarket Edinburgh jewellery retailer Hamilton & Inches last week as it hosted an event to mark a tie-up between Scottish broker Bruce Stevenson and insurance group Hiscox.

The assembled guests, which included many well-heeled Scottish private clients of the firms, were able to peruse some of the finest jewellery and watches for sale in Scotland as they chatted over the canapes of langoustines, beef carpaccio and scallops.

But it’s a good job Germaine Greer wasn’t on the invite list.

“Given the free champagne and expensive jewellery, it’s very brave of so many husbands to bring their wives along,” a Hiscox representative joked during his welcome address.

Party conference season

The EICC’s chief executive, Marshall Dallas, has been busy during his first hundred days or so in office.

Having already entertained two of Scotland’s main political parties this year, this week sees the conference venue hosting the general election vote count for the first time. Dallas says he has been impressed by the collaborative approach of stakeholders in Edinburgh and last week helped launch a working party of leading lights from the leisure, hotels and food & drink industries – Think Scotland, Think Conference – aimed at drawing more corporate events and delegates to Scotland’s capital.

InnovationNation, the EICC’s series of monthly public lectures which celebrates innovation in Scotland, moves into full swing in May and June with InnovationBody then InnovationTechnology, featuring high-profile figures drawn from the public, private and academic sectors.

Says Dallas: “Our record in medical sciences and, more recently, in all things tech is world class and we’d encourage people to come along to try the free lectures and be inspired by some great innovators in these fields.”

Attendees can be sure of being well looked after, with Dallas being a former food and beverage director at Gleneagles Hotel.

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