Saturday 22 October 2011


Can anyone explain to me what the tented protesters outside St Paul's are against? Or what they are for? The press tend to describe them as "anti-capitalist", but what does that mean exactly? Are they against money, or property? I am confused.
They once had a likely spokesman, who wrote to The Times saying "Sir, I wish to protest most strongly about everything. Yours, Spike Milligan".

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Fastjet will never fly

So much excitement in the press - both the travel trade and the newspapers - about "Sir Stelios" and his "plans to launch a new airline". He has so far bought a domain name - but if you read some of today's papers, you could be forgiven for thinking that the red-liveried airline "Fastjet" will soon be open for bookings.

At the risk of sticking my neck out, here's a prediction: Fastjet will never fly. I may be cynical, but I think it won't get off the ground because it is a red herring - this is just a chess move in Sir Stelios's somewhat bizarre games at the expense of easyJet.

He is a bored millionaire, and relishes a fight - and the limelight. Anyone with any sense would be happy to trouser his recent £57m dividend and leave the management with the headaches of actually running an airline. But that would be too "easy". Fastjet - what am I bet that it never sees the light, let alone the skies?

Thursday 24 February 2011

The launch of "Hospitality Today" magazine - from hospital!

The last few weeks of my life seem to have passed in a blur. My company, Special Publishing, has launched a digital magazine for the hospitality industry - "Hospitality Today" - and that has taken a lot of my time. We have a foreword from the Minister of Tourism, a wine column from Jancis Robinson and much else beside - and we are reaching over 30,000 business owners (hoteliers, restaurateurs, and owners of inns, pubs and B&Bs).
The most exciting thing, though, is the innovative technology that underpins our "virtual magazine" - it can be read by anyone, anywhere on any PC, Mac, laptop, iPhone, iPad or smartphone. You can "turn the pages", but unlike printed magazines we can have video as well as still pictures on the page.

Enough of the sales pitch - my reason for this post is to say that just three days before our launch date, I saw my GP with 'stomach pains' and was rushed into hospital straight away, and went under the knife that evening for an appendectomy.

Thank god for the Blackberry - luckily I was able to OK a last minute ad from Moet & Chandon from my trolley before being put under - and that closed the magazine ready for launch. We did make the planned launch date after all.

In my couple of days of enforced inaction in hospital, however, I did refelect on the fact that NHS hospitals have some of the same faults as some hospitality businesses - mainly a lack of communication to the patient/customer. People will put up with an awful lot, if they are told what is going on quickly, clearly and honestly by someone who introduces him or herself and explains his or her role.

Whether it is a matre d' welcoming you to your table and describing today's specials, or a nurse telling you when you are due to go into the theatre, the same principles apply. On that basis, the NHS have a lot of room for improvement in my experience - though it has to be said that the operation was a complete success - luckily for me (and 'Hospitality Today'!).