Building’s deputy editor Phil Clark – a veteran of five MIPIMS – relives his favourite Cannes stories
Is MIPIM ever about business? Trawling through some of my scribblings over the past half-decade, I see that it probably can be. It just depends where you are in your MIPIM experience.
Let me explain. Do you remember the first time? There you were, armed with business cards, eager to make a good impression. OK, so you did end up exhausted, but there’s a reasonable chance you went home with at least some new leads and contacts.
Now spool forward to your fourth or fifth venture. No point in turning up to the bunker, is there? Meeting new people? Nah – I’ll just pop along to that breakfast/lunch/ dinner I went to last year. Am I being cynical or does it all just become a glorified extension of your social life? Oh – just me then.
Whatever stage you are at in your MIPIM journey, there’s never a lack of frivolity and laughter. So, as a tribute to immature fun and frolics, here are my top MIPIM stories. To all those concerned: keep up the good work!
The one with King Kong
My first story has to be the one involving John Townsend, director at architect GHM Rock Townsend. Not just for the tale, but for his response. I reported John stumbling into a rubbish skip after a heavy night on the Croisette and discovering a stash of 12-inch records from Johnny Halliday, Serge Gainsbourg and the Love Unlimited Orchestra with Barry White (the title was ‘King Kong’, apparently). John’s response? One of the funniest letters ever to appear in Building, in which he took issue with my suggestion that he may have been under the influence. “Witnesses will confirm I spent an evening of convivial sobriety in a bistro, scheming future transactions between respected UK enterprises,” he wrote.
The one with the angry barman
This is dedicated to the long-suffering PR bods who run around MIPIM 24/7 arranging events/interviews/drinks, etc. It takes its toll, as I was reminded when I bumped into the usually dapper spin-meister Tony Danaher on the last day two years ago. Unshaven and lacking his usual snappy wardrobe, Danaher was on a mission to find a CD of his favourite ‘chill-out trance music’ to aid him in some well-deserved R&R. Then there was the PR man who ended his night not merely well-oiled, but with a juicy shiner following a dispute with a barman in the trendy Loft nightspot.
The one with the overpriced socks
Tales of rip-off Cannes are aplenty, but how about these two drop-your-bacon-sandwich moments? First, there was the regular MIPIM-goer who was handed a four-figure bill for hiring a villa for the week, which included £25 for cleaning. The only problem was that she’d had to perform said task herself. Then there was the lawyer whose feet were feeling the effects of trudging round the conference centre. She decided to invest in some comfy socks. The bill for a pair of plain black polyester toe-warmers? £50.
The one with the chopper ride
Only in MIPIM can normally parsimonious organisations push the boat out – literally. Take all those city councils and government agencies that put on lavish hospitality for the great and the good. Remember Yorkshire Forward in 2002? The usual modes of transport to whisk guests to its MIPIM shindig – taxis, buses, etc – clearly didn’t cut the mustard. No, only a helicopter would do. As I said, only at MIPIM.