Master of ceremonies Michael Buerk described him as 'one of the great people of postwar Europe', then he was ushered to the podium to the sound of Fanfare for the Common Man, an Emerson Lake and Palmer tune noted for its pomp and usually reserved for boxers entering the ring.
'I've never had this before,' he said gazing out at the assembled diners as the music dimmed. He needn't have worried. Everyone who came near the stage had to suffer the same treatment.
Why did Derek Keys, South Africa's much respected former finance director, resign earlier this year? Blame the wife.
According to a new report on South Africa by the credit ratings agency IBCA, Mrs Keys strongly disliked her husband's membership of the National Party.
When he confessed that he had done everything he felt he could conceivably do within his term of office, she insisted on his resignation.
So that's what they mean by personal reasons.
The Bank of England was not amused yesterday when it was deluged with calls after its luxury yacht Ingotism ran into difficulties in bad weather south of the Isle of Wight.
'No, Eddie George was not on board, it was our yachting club. People from our registrar's office in Gloucester, I believe,' Threadneedle Street said.
But sailing specialists were sneering yesterday that the 'luxury' yacht is in fact a Beneteau 41, a French marque known among the cognoscenti more as the Ford of the yachting world than the BMW.
'I suppose you could call it mass-produced,' the bank sniffs.
Bill West, marketing director of Skandia Life, was in fine form yesterday explaining why his company had decided to spend pounds 750,000 sponsoring Cowes week over the next three years.
'Well, we are based in Southampton and both institutions are of similar age,' he said.
Any sailors on the board, by any chance? 'There is one sailor on the board, but that has nothing to do with our sponsorship of the event.'
The director in question is one Bill West, proud owner of a modest 30ft vessel.
Someone should keep Wyvern Business Library up with the news. It has issued a promotional leaflet for a book called Clear Your Desk.
'It is no coincidence that the management greats - Sir John Harvey-Jones, Richard Branson, Gerald Ratner, for example - all have clear desks,' chirps the blurb. They most certainly do. Gerald Ratner cleared his a long time ago.Reuse content