Revellers gathered for a fast game of high-adrenaline backgammon. This time we dispensed with points and the doubling cube. Whoever won most games by 8.30 pm would walk away with the winner's prize - a bottle of Canard Duchene. But a draw meant that Ant Fane, Charles Hancock and Beatrice Martin Vignerte each had to throw the doubling cube to decide the winner. It was Beatrice that finally raised the winner's bottle. We all enjoyed a fabulous gossipy dinner afterwards.
James Bartholomew on the Museum of Communist Terror
15th May 2023
James Bartholomew wants to stop the UK from sliding into a communist, totalitarian state. So he is raising £70m to establish, in central London, the Museum of Communist Terror. Revellers were spellbound as James explained that the young adulated - and voted for - Corbyn, a confessed Marxist. Yet they know not of Lenin and Starlin, nor the millions of people who died directly due to communist policies. The teaching establishment tolerates only 45% of students studying GCSE History. And many learn a revisionist version that underplays the scale of communism's suffering and horrors.
Exhibiting graphic details of gulags, torture, and arbitrary arrest may drive the message home to the country's hopefully democratic future leaders. A jolly dinner followed.
Revellers sat in wrapped attention as Mark Hollingsworth introduced some of the extraordinary methods KGB agents used to spread disinformation. We learned how the KGB could be much more ruthless than Western agencies, how honeytraps worked, and why they were so effective. Some of the men in the audience twitched uncomfortably when Mark explained that specially trained, beautiful women would flatter their targets who were people like us. They were, of course, utterly susceptible to their flattery. Buy Mark's latest book, Agents of Influence, for the fascinating, full low-down. Available at Amazon.
A glamorous audience witnessed skilled players assessing the odds quickly, deep in competitive thought. Again 30 Revellers pitted their wits against one another, harnessing Lady Luck where possible. With only two doubles per game (one per player), the skilful winner was Robert Greenwell, with 22 points. David Bradley duly awarded him a bottle of Canard Duchene at 9 pm. Dinner followed, and the fun continued.
Revellers spent an intriguing evening with Catherine, Baroness Meyer of Nine Elms. Her husband, the late Sir Christopher Meyer, was British Ambassador to Washington when 9/11 struck. They were both a tour de force there, adding glamour and spark to otherwise formal and rather dull proceedings. We heard how Clinton and Bush warmed to her - even lobbying to release her children, whom her German ex-husband was illegally detaining. It was a moving evening. Catherine, a British citizen since the '80s, is half-French and half-Russian. She is also UK's first trade envoy to Ukraine. Her insights about the war there were fascinating. Chatham House rules applied, so I can't share them.
At The Bar at the Prince Albert, with Col Stuart Tootal DSO 13th February
We gathered around and discussed the great issues of the day. Stuart is the Sunday Times Best Selling author of "Danger Close", a harrowing account of his leading 3PARA into Helmund in 2006. Stuart provided some fascinating and unusual insights into Ukraine from a military perspective and his knowledge of those who have lived and worked in Moscow.
Dr Daisy Bennett on Looking Younger, Bridge Room, Prince Albert, 13th February
Whilst the guys were downstairs talking war, women were upstairs talking of everlasting beauty with Harley Street medical and cosmetic doctor Dr Daisy Bennett. Daisy shared insights into the art of looking and feeling younger openly in a way that could never have happened with chaps present.
Philip Eeles and the Honest Burger Story
18th January 2023
Honest Burger co-founder Philip Eeles entertained and fascinated Revellers with stories of the (seeming) chaos of its roots to its £55+ turnover now. As Philip told his tale, it became apparent how the Honest culture is crucial to its success.
But it was also down to their approach. "We buy the whole cow because we don't trust butchers", explained Philip. "Everything is prepared fresh centrally. Honest doesn't even have a single freezer". Philip inspired and intrigued his audience.
007 Backgammon at Brinkleys, 17th January 2023
30 Revellers pitted their wits against one another. Bond music reverberated in the background. Revellers played one game, then changed to a new opponent. The doubling cube enhanced scores. The winner was the player who accumulated the most points by 9 pm. Charles Hancock won with a stunning 96 points. At 9 pm, David Bradley presented Charles the winner's prize, a bottle of Brinkley's excellent house champagne (The Dom Perignon 53 being momentarily out of stock.) Dinner followed, and the fun continued as piranhas feasted on the player with the least points.
New Year's Day Recovery Lunch, 1 January 2023
22 Revellers met for Hair of the Dog Bloody Marys and G&Ts before sitting down to a fab Sunday roast. From the Prince Albert's Bridge Room, we could see the shivering, wet, wind-swept walkers exiting Battersea Park as we tucked into the succulent roast belly of pork, washed down with some fine wines and lively chat.
Reforming the Blob
10th October 2022
John O'Connell, Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) CEO, provided fascinating insights into the powerful combination of the Civil Service and Big Business. At a speech recently, Michael Gove referred to this alliance as the Blob. (A 50s film about a slimy monster consuming all in its path.)
John shared some of the insights from the TPA's extensive research.
One was about procurement.
Considering the spending cuts and tax rises that will soon take place, one silver bullet for the Government would be to reform procurement. Imagine if the entire Public Sector could eliminate those kinds of inefficiencies. For example, if the whole NHS bought energy at the same price as the Trust that pays the least for it now, the NHS would save over £200m a year.
We're talking £100bns in savings.
Winning Coins and How to Spot Them
27th June 2022
This talk was the fourth about crypto. William Ralston -Saul entertained those Revellers interested in spotting coins that would survive the bear market and go on to thrive. William stressed that it was quite like trying to spot a winning share. Some common sense is required, and some relatively uncommon sense for figuring out the “tokenomics” of winning coins. William’s outstanding quality is that he’s not only profoundly knowledgeable but has the gift of explaining it all simply in ways that ordinary people like us can grasp.
Peralta: A long Relaxing Tuscan Weekend
17th - 21st June 2022
We had a fabulous time. Tuscan cuisine, fine wines, long lunches, restaurant walks, and sunbathing by the pool. Peralta is in the Apennine foothills, 300m high. We enjoyed spectacular views of the sea in the far distance - only about a 30-minute drive away. We danced, sang and laughed.
Understanding NFTs with William Ralston-Saul
2nd April 2022
In our third crypto series talk, William Ralston-Saul explained Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs. NFTs have reached the headlines as art auction houses have had well-attended, high-profile auctions of them. For those unacquainted with crypto, William used a superb chess metaphor to bring them up to speed. Once people broadly understood the concept, William explained how NFTs could revolutionise industries, especially games and music. Dinner followed when Revellers could quiz William one-to-one over a glass or two.
Col Stuart Tootal Interviews Falklands SAS Veteran Mark "Splash" Aston
23 February 2022
Mark "Splash" Aston is a SAS Falklands War veteran. Half his squadron perished when his Sea King helicopter crashed in the South Atlantic. Splash went on to fight and help retake the islands. Sunday Times Bestselling author Col Stuart Tootal interviewed Splash, who gave Revellers a first-hand account of th
battles and endurances, the humorous moments and sad ones as brave colleagues died. Stuart and Mark have co-written Mark's story in SAS: Sea King Down, now available in all good bookshops and at Amazon.
Understanding the Crypto Opportunity
23rd February 2022
Aubit, AKA Freeway, kindly sponsored this lively, compass-setting talk on understanding crypto, how it will change the world and how Revellers can take advantage of it.
Aubit co-founder Peter Neilson gave a short, pithy introduction, explaining how Aubit’s Freeway democratises capitalism by giving small investors a chance for huge returns usually reserved for large institutions. Blockchain tech achieves this. Complimentary fine wine and fizz poured perpetually.
Next, William Ralston-Saul delivered an engaging talk about the crypto scene. He started by asking if anyone knew how Blockchain worked. A few raised their hands hesitantly. Using a brilliant chess-playing metaphor, William then explained it. So that’s how it works, everyone thought, as William gave an overview on everything from NFTs and stablecoins to tokenomics and Web3.
19th January 2022
This talk was the first in a series on crypto. Jonathan De Rin and Kristiane Backer gave an in-depth presentation on Bitcoin. They were raising money for a completely green Bitcoin Mine in Norway. Sharing explanations reserved for their investors, they explained what Bitcoin is, how it works and why it shot up to a peak valuation in 2022 of over $50k. Some sceptics asked whether Bitcoin has intrinsic value, the vast electricity needed to mine it and whether quantum computer hackers will bring it down one day. A jolly dinner followed as the debate continued.
Col Stuart Tootal's Talk on Afghanistan
17th November 2021
Col Stuart Tootal, DSO OBE, provided insights into the current Afghan situation and a fascinating talk about his experiences leading the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) in 2005, spearheading the UK's first deployment into Helmand. At the time, the then Labour Defence Secretary, John Reid, said their mission was part anti-narcotics and peace support and that he'd be surprised soldiers fired a single shot. Stuart pointed out that 3 PARA fired well over 500,000 rounds in the end.
Stuart described many aspects of the campaign, including a vivid glimpse of life in 55-degree heat with limited washing facilities and under constant fire. In Stuart's experience and opinion, the campaign in Helmand could have been successful if it had focused on providing local funding to the villages using a Command Control structure rather than burning poppies, their primary income source. Stuart expressed sadness, regret and utter surprise about the incompetent nature of the withdrawal three months earlier.
Toby Young's Talk - Free Speech Union
5th October 2021
Forty Revellers listened to Toby explain what the Free Speech Union is doing to combat the invasive and expanding "cancel culture". Toby spoke about students finding professors' teachings offensive and forcing them out. Particularly chilling was a story about a Public Sector employee fired for using a perfectly legal, though politically incorrect term, in a private WhatsApp message. Happily, bosses reinstated fired victims after the Free Speech Union wrote to them, pointing out they were breaking the law. The Free Speech Union is doing much behind the scenes, helping lawmakers draft laws that enhance Free Speech.
Thruxton Track Day Weekend
10th/11th October 2020
A day of Testosterone and Speed followed by antique shopping, tea and dinner. Country walks followed on Sunday.
Gawain Towler Talk
2nd March 2020
As Nigel Farage's PR Director, Gawain is one of the UK's most successful political PR specialists. Even for those who thought Brexit an unmitigated disaster, he provided valuable PR advice and some fascinating anecdotes in a very entertaining presentation - which continued during dinner.
Stewart Pearce Talk
17th February 2020
Stewart Pearce is one of the World's most renowned voice coaches. He gave a fascinating presentation on how to command an audience by "finding your note". His clients included Princess Diana, Margret Thatcher, Minnie Driver, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, Michelle Williams, Hugh Bonneville, Eddie Redmayne, Simon Callow, Matthew Goode, and Mark Rylance.
Backgammon at Brinkleys
13th January 2020
Revellers enjoyed an evening of high-stakes drama. Competition to win the coveted bottle of Brinkleys House champagne was fierce. Drinks flowed during play, and an amusing dinner followed.
Ian George Talk,
5th November 2019
Ian George is a highly paid and exceptionally effective professional business introducer. If you want to meet a cabinet minister, no problem. A billionaire, consider it done. A Walmart buyer, whose time is worth more than hens' teeth made of gold, well, that is his bread and butter. Ian had a fascinating story to tell as he spilt the beans on the secrets behind his techniques. He also recounted what it felt like being near the famous boxing impresario Frank Warren when famously he was shot. (Both survived.)