I think we started the tradition of taking a bus to Cheltenham in 1995. Jonathan Poll and I decided that as Eagle Star was in Cheltenham and Cheltenham hosted the greatest festival of jumps racing the world has ever or will ever see, that we should take our clients for a day out.
In those days there was a budget and our guests enjoyed nothing but the best. Eagle Star had purchases a fine beat of the Tay and a bothy, it had its own ghillies and a whisky bar. In them days taking a favoured client to the Highlands for a few days was a pleasure , not a guilty one. So the beat and the bothy were owned by the with-profits fund but what of it?
Things have changed, not just the rules surrounding inducements issued by the FCA, but more generally the bribery act has meant companies and their staff have to mind conflicts of interest and not be swayed by the blandishments of a corporate jolly fishing with flies or watching the gee gees.
When we started the Pension Play Pen as a linked in Group in 2008, it was to make it easy for those people who enjoyed each other’s companies but who were constrained by conscience and by conflicts to do the things they loved collectively – under their own steam. Whether it be our famous pension play pen lunches, boating at Henley, theatre trips or our jolly person outings to Cheltenham, this tradition of doing it ourselves has caught on.
In years gone by, we have booked country houses for a week and I’ve returned to London at the end of it in need of another week’s recovery. More recently we have scaled down our ambition to a day at the races and here it is!
So at 9am ,our charabanc will depart from a lot adjacent to Paddington Station in search of one of the greatest experiences I have ever had, the seven race card of the first day of Cheltenham’s 2016 National Hunt Festival. Later this morning i will be producing Tapper’s top tips for our bus goers and (at the request of the madding crowd), publishing my nailed on fancies on these pages.
By mid-day we will be dancing in the Guinness Village and (I hope) will be pissed. By five o’clock we will be pissed and poor and heading for home and we will return to our loved ones at some hour of the evening with a hatful of memories and very sore heads.
Which is as it should be, for this is a day of mis-rule, of delight and a day to banish the corporate and find something a little more real.