Bunhill: Hogg's head gets the nod at RSC

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The Independent Online
To the list of great Shakespearian characters that includes Sir Toby Belch, Sir John Falstaff and Old Gobbo must now be added Sir Christopher Hogg. His name may sound Elizabethan, but he stalks the world stage as leading player in the modern production that is Allied Domecq. Sir Christopher's stint as chairman at Allied has taken the retailing and spirits group's sponsorship of the Royal Shakespeare Company well into the second act.

Gone are the days when sponsorship was merely a way of providing corporate clients with a good night at the Barbican or at Stratford. Allied is providing the RSC with support in marketing, database development and legal matters. Now the roles are being reversed with RSC offering its skills in return. Presentations are benefiting from the RSC's voice coaches and the text is receiving serious attention, with workshops concentrating on the delivery of the idea to its intended audience.

Even so, the RSC should beware of getting into too close a clinch with a drinks manufacturer. They would do well to heed the tragedy of Macbeth.

"What three things does drink especially provoke?" asks Macduff of the porter at Macbeth's castle. "Nose-painting, sleep and urine," comes the reply. "Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes: it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance."

Third time unlucky

Alumni of that fine publication Money Marketing, read widely throughout the world of financial journalism, were reeling in shock on Thursday after the paper was forced to print its third correction in three weeks. On 30 October ,it was forced to concede that they had got the phone number wrong of Heath Insurance Services. Small beer perhaps, but it gets worse.

On 6 November, the newspaper apologised for reporting that Skandia Life had been told by the PIA Ombudsman Bureau to settle a critical-illness case. The Ombudsman had not ruled, although the case had been referred to the bureau. The claim had in fact been settled, with interest, on 2 May this year.

Then, this week, the paper was fulsome in its humility at having suggested the previous week that Sedgwick Noble Lowndes "was within the scope of the Serious Fraud Office's investigation into the collapse of HH Robertson". It stated, quite rightly, that was not in fact the case and was sorry "for any embarrassment caused by [their] previous article". Many of those who have featured in Money Marketing's delightful 'Out Of Context' column were quick to extend their sympathy. After all, anyone can make a mistake.

The National Rail Enquiry Scheme (as the train timetable enquiry bureau styles itself), has been the subject of much customer fury at the paucity of its information provision and a consequent source of financial penalty to the privatised rail companies. Great Western Trains, the company that is also in charge of the notice board at Paddington Station, is taking the opposite approach. Nobody could accuse the station authorities of being unforthcoming with customer information when they flashed up the following message recently: "The 19.15 to Bristol Temple Meads has been cancelled due to a shortage of high-speed trains, owing to the displacement of trains after earlier late running caused by a freight-train failure in the Bath area." That's clear then.