The revelation put a new perspective on the champagne reception Mr Hutchings was hosting at the Royal Academy last night in honour of the great French dauber. 'Well, I think he's a beautiful painter,' he responded, colouring slightly and fingering his Smith & Wesson belt buckle nervously.
THIS WEEK's prize for initiative goes to Bill Paisley, manager of the Copthorne Hotel in Newcastle, for his dog-walking service. He has made available his dog, an Airedale terrier called Gus, for stressed executives to walk along the Tyne after work.
He has also gone international, offering Rottweilers for German visitors, St Bernards for the Swiss, Afghan hounds for Asian guests and so on. 'It shows we have a sense of humour,' says Mr Paisley.
THE SAVOY obviously cares enough about its reputation for quality service to make adequate redress when it slips up. Hilary Sutcliffe, press officer of the Royal Society of Arts, recently experienced very shoddy service at breakfast. 'Everything was late or cold. We couldn't even get the bill or find anyone to complain to,' she says.
Eventually the head barman, who was suitably apologetic, offered the breakfast gratis. All this seemed fine enough. But what Ms Sutcliffe was not expecting was the treatment she received when she decided to book another table later. She was given a table by the window (an honour many would kill for), presented with a huge display of flowers, given chocolates and treated like royalty. Phone calls followed to check all was OK.
The treatment continues. Window seat again yesterday and more chocolates. 'I'm now going to try it at the Ritz,' jokes Ms Sutcliffe.
SPORTING as well as financial misery at Lloyd's of London. On the day the Serious Fraud Office stepped up its interest in the Lloyd's debacle the market's polo team was throwing away a lead at the annual Lloyd's v Stock Exchange challenge at the Checkendon Park polo club near Reading. Having led throughout, Lloyd's finally went down to a late winner 30 seconds from the end of the last chukka.
RED FACES at Save & Prosper yesterday when a dragon boat race, arranged to celebrate the launch of its China Dragon Unit Trust, went horribly wrong. The idea was to take a group of S&P folk and assorted journalists down the river to Kingston upon Thames. Unfortunately the boat hit shallow waters near Kew, ran aground and was stuck there for five hours. The group, by this stage tired and emotional, were forced to hail taxis to get them to Kingston for the Chinese banquet.
THE MORE cynical of our readers in Haslemere, Surrey, will have assumed that we have gone into the estate agency business. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The photograph that appeared on these pages yesterday of Lower Roundhurst - complete with the asking price of pounds 1.8m - was merely an illustration of a story about estate agents and one of four pictures provided at random by Savills.
That the property, said by the agents to be near Hazelmere, Lancashire, belongs to our own columnist Jim Slater is, er, an unfortunate coincidence. However, we shall be happy to accept the commission in the event of a sale.Reuse content