Last year at the boat show held at Excel a friend obediently slipped off his new Church's loafers as he went aboard to nose around some new plastic palace (for those who've never 'done' the boat show, you can't enter the gleaming vessels on display without taking your shoes off). He returned on deck to find that someone had taken his loafers and left him a rather grubby pair of trainers. Do mosques have the same problem, I wonder? Apart from the opportunity to acquire a better pair of shoes, most boat show regulars enthuse about an old show fixture, the Guinness Bar. Never mind that it's £3.60 a pint served in a plastic glass, or that this is the only day of the year that you actually drink the stuff - of such moments are show memories made.
One conversation over the frothy stuff at Excel has been repeated ever since the show moved there. "It was much better at Earl's Court. This is the middle of nowhere. They don't care about us any more." In January, a rival organisation to National Boat Shows (the Excel people) announced a competing boat show to return to the old Earl's Court venue this winter. Now we are to have two London boat shows; the Earl's Court one from 1st-9th December and the Excel one from 11th - 20th January.
The gloves are off and the Earl's Court people have just landed a heavy blow; Guinness have announced they're sponsoring the central London event rather than the
And the footwear sales stands will no doubt be looking forward to a profitable time too; last year my friend shelled out £130 for some shoes to walk home in.