WOSA communications hitman and braiimeister Andre Morgenthal (below) – last spotted at the Delheim spatzendreck und bratwurst lunch at the end of May – has perfected the art of using restaurant meals as the forum for getting his corporate message across. Back in the days when Su Birch relaxed in the deep cushions of the La-Z-Boy recliners in Dorp Street in between first class flights to Europe, 96 Winery Road was Andre’s haunt for treating hacks to bottles of imported wine to get them to stop running negative stories about SA wine.
The Financial Times has long used the business lunch as a way of getting the goss from important people. But how many secrets will be spilled over pumpkin soup and mineral water?
This week’s interview with Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps is a doozy. The bill for the encounter at the Kongress Hotel in Davos, Switzerland, is exhibit A:
Pumpkin soup x2 SFr22.00
Veal carpaccio SFr26.00
Mineral water SFr9.50
Double espresso x2 SFr12.40
Total (incl service) SFr103.90
At R1233, this was clearly no WOSA blow-out! Things have recently become so PC at the pink one, mining mogul Algy Cluff who made a first fortune in North Sea oil, a second in African gold and now is about to gassify coal under the North Sea – sort of off-shore fracking – is one unhappy reader. He writes to the editor today:
“Sir, Am I alone in my growing astonishment at the frugal nature of the diet favoured by the Lunch with the FT guests and in particular the almost complete absence of alcohol? None of the people I know could get through the day with a mouthful of lettuce, a banana and a glass of water. I am not suggesting a reversion to the 1950s – two pink gins, a bottle of wine, a kummel and a cigar being the norm in many City dining rooms (no wonder Britain went downhill) – but there is a halfway house.
A visit to the West End of London, home of the gentleman’s club and of the five-star restaurants (all packed with A-listers), would suggest that a lot of decisions are still taken by people who are not frightened of eating and drinking. Real food and alcohol may render some of your guests more sympathetic and, may I say it, better company. Try making it a condition that they all drink a bottle of wine with you in future.”
Perhaps SA wine should donate that bottle of wine? At least it would mean four extra cases sold in the UK, a market disgracefully stagnant for SA exports over the past 5 years (110.6 million litres in 2008 and 110.8 million last year) in spite of all Su’s first class flights and Andre’s many meals.