Pembroke: Forte scores where some saw red

Forte was preening its feathers yesterday after the group's Hyde Park Hotel in London received five red stars from the AA. The award, I am told, is for all-round excellence, and a factor in the hotel's success is thought to have been Marco Pierre White's The Restaurant, situated within the hotel. This is interesting. As has been reported elsewhere, one diner at this illustrious eaterie recently waited for an hour and 50 minutes before his starter arrived. One wonders. Post-award, will service get better, or worse?

The same might be said of Quaglino's, Sir Terence Conran's astronomically priced gastrodome in St James's. After an agreeable private viewing at the Royal Academy summer exhibition hosted by brokers BZW, a select group repaired to the restaurant. In furnace-like temperatures, the party was kept waiting for 45 minutes for its pre-booked table before being ushered in. This hold-up - although common enough after the restaurant's opening - should have been particularly embarrassing for Sir Terence, as the great man was dining there himself at the time. We can assume he did not suffer similar treatment.

In a move that some may say should be encouraged, a group of accountants threw themselves off a cliff yesterday. Eight partners from Ernst & Young abseiled blindfold down Symonds Yat, a beauty spot overlooking the River Wye near Monmouth. The descent was in aid of the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

The accountants, who all wore their suits for the descent, were led by Peter Jenkins, the firm's top VAT partner. All got down safely to be rewarded, I understand, with a bottle of particularly good brandy.

They know how to keep it in the family at Provincial, the insurance group based in Kendal, Cumbria. With the appointment of the 34-year-old Alexander Scott as its new chairman, the insurer has maintained its unbroken family line for the best part of a century. Scott junior, who joined as a director five years ago, is the great grandson of Sir James Scott, who founded the Provincial in 1903, and the son of Peter Scott, who was also a chairman. Alexander takes over the reins from Tim Shakerly who, in spite of having the wrong surname, managed to hang on to the top job for 17 years. But then he did marry into the family.

Brendan le Morvan, Midland Bank's long-serving head of corporate communications, is going out in style. The popular PR man, who leaves the bank today after 30 years' service, is having three leaving bashes. Farewell drinks yesterday for the press will be followed today by no doubt a lengthy lunch for his department. On Monday he is due to hold a larger party for all his Midland colleagues. His future concerns are more domestic. 'I'm baby-sitting for my grand-daughter for the next fortnight,' he said.

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