Odd news? There's nowt queerer than folk!

Posted on: 13 September 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

A four metre bowl of thick potato soup, a 100mph Queen Anne dining suite and a banker with a sense of conscience and social justice. Has the world gone mad?

Yesterday there were three beauties! From Japan, we had a team of ‘cooks’ making the world’s largest bowl of thick potato soup (apparently a delicacy in Japan) with the bowl measuring approximately four metres across and one metre deep.

The second clip featured English guy, Perry Watkins, who built a motor powered Queen Anne dining room table, which he drove fully set out for dinner at 104 mph, unsurprisingly he beat the world record of 97mph! Not one plate or piece of cutlery fell off! Watch Perry Watkins video here.

Finally there was the Chicken Wing Eating Contest from the USA where the winner ate 118 chicken wings. Are they mad? Probably, but by God don’t people like this lighten life from the tales of death, war, politics and collapsing economies that are fed to us every day by the media.

The maddest thing I ever did was to photograph a 70-foot sailing yacht from the top of the mast. Hanging from a boatswain’s chair, I swung my feet clear of the camera lens and altered the boat's centre of gravity. The next thing I knew I was hanging 70 feet out over the ocean and stayed that way for nearly an hour! Looking back, it was quite fun, but at the time I was terrified. Still, the photographs were fantastic!

They’re not all Bankers!

A friend of mine invited me to ‘An Evening with Stephen Green’ at the Mellon Bank in the City of London. Now for those of you who don’t know who he is, let me enlighten you. Stephen Green is the current Chairman of HSBC bank. Now I was expecting this to be an evening of languid reminiscences and swashbuckling stories of the banking crisis. Was I in for a surprise? He is a clever but humble man who as well as reaching one of the top jobs in the global banking industry, is an ordained Church of England minister!

Now I’ve banked with HSBC for the past 30 years and before that was with its predecessor Midland Bank. I’ve always thought of it as a well run bank (well except when they nearly went bust in the 70s by buying the Crocker Bank in the USA!) and was very happy leaving what money I had with them over the 2007 crisis.

Listening to him talk and explain the background to the global crisis I realised that while all this was happening, he was guiding HSBC according to his moral code and philosophy – quietly and efficiently avoiding many of the pitfalls that ‘did’ for other banks. Here was a guy who did not believe in screwing the last pound from his customers and someone who genuinely believes that banks really do have a moral responsibility to society as a whole.

The evening was nothing as I expected and happily so. He was a man at the peak of his career who had been able bring to bear a social conscience on one of the largest banks in the world and succeeded as he did it. It’s a shame some of his City colleagues hadn’t done the same thing. HSBC was one of the few banks that didn’t get into trouble or needed bailing out!

He’s now in the process of handing over the reins to the next Chairman prior to taking an unpaid Ministerial post with the coalition government. The role Mr Cameron has asked him to do is become Trade Minister. Something he’s well suited for and will no doubt bring his own inimitable qualities to bear!

If you’d like a short read get a copy of a book he’s just published ‘Good value - Choosing a better life in business’ published by Penguin. You’ll get an insight into how one man balanced making money with his moral values. Quite a feat but he seems to have done it successfully. Alternatively listen to this short discussion between Mr Green and Adam Boulton:

Watch out Whitehall, I think you guys are in for a shock!

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