Simple rules: Don't be a loser, don't stand next to one, don't trail banners across the sky advertising that you are one, don't accept umbrellas from one
… and sound judgment
Den Dover, the Tory candidate for the North-west, at the European parliament, may have to update his website if he's to appeal to voters in the upcoming European elections. His home page shows a grinning DD standing next to a gentleman with a head like an egg onto which somebody has drawn a face. According to the accompanying text, this shows Den "backing Iain Duncan Smith in his successful bid for the party leadership". So that's who it is …

Entrées over dessert
Proof that industry lunches can impact on the bottom line as well as the waistline comes from Davis Langdon. I'm told that Colin Coxeter-Smith, the firm's head of sport, attended a Portugal 2004 dinner while on a Trade Partners UK mission to Portugal a couple of years ago. As luck would have it, he sat next to the chap responsible for arranging the finance of the Porto stadium. It seems told that one meal led to another, and was followed shortly after by Davis Langdon becoming a consultant on the project.

She shoots …
Security in the run-up to Euro 2004 is tight in Portugal. On a recent trip to Lisbon, our reporter ventured out to the Benfica and Sporting grounds in the hope of a sneak preview. Smiling officials were happy to arrange a tour, but only around the outside. The smiles continued as they explained how the clubs had travelled to Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford for lessons in corporate entertainment from the prawn sandwich pros. But their faces turned decidedly stony at the requests to view inside. It turns out UEFA has taken over the stadiums and is already arranging security. Alas, it seems the only way to get in is to acquire a ticket for the tournament.

Rainy day people
There were rumblings of discontent at this year's British Council of Offices conference in Manchester. Delegates who had paid £725 for the privilege of attending – inclusive of members' discount – were left cold by some of the seminars (the one on real estate investment trusts being an honourable exception). Add to this rumours that the bash would be held abroad only one year in three, and many delegates began to look distinctly disconsolate as they clutched their complimentary giftpacks, including an umbrella to ward off the anticipated Mancunian rain. "Most expensive bloody brolly I've ever bought," grumbled one.

Geordie generosity

My favourite moment of the week so far was an anecdote told by Sir Bob Scott who headed Liverpool’s successful bid for Capital of Culture 2008. On the day the winner was announced, Bob received a phone call from a disgruntled pilot who had been asked to fly a banner reading “2008 WINNERS” across the skies of Newcastle. “They don’t seem to want it,” explained the angry aviator. “Do you?” Bob replied that the Scousers’ budget didn’t stretch to fly-pasts. “Don’t worry,” said the pilot. “It’s all paid for …”