Bibs and toffs

22nd December 2000 at 00:00
A jolly lunch engagement finds TES hacks joining millionaire philanthropist Peter Lampl at his favourite eaterie - an exclusive Italian restaurant in Knightsbridge.

Pasta is ordered, bibs are issued (yes, really: regulars here care less about their appearance during than after eating). Then the party gets down to serious talk about the philanthropist's campaign to get bright working-class children into private schools and top universities.

Also present is Mr L's urbane public relations man, Tim Devlin. He's not any old press officer, you understand, but an Old Wykhamist, who oozes gravitas, is an ex-director of independent schools organisation Isis, and author of the Publc Relations Manual for Schools.

Riveting though the conversation is, a frisson of excitement runs around the party when Australian tennis sensation Pat Cash, accompanied by his family, is ushered to the next table. There are sideways glances but not a word is said as Mr Devlin pays the party's bill and everyone rises to leave.

At which point Mr Devlin stops at the Cash table, stoops, and - in an accent which suddenly owes less to Winchester and more to the Outback - utters the unlikely phrase: "Good on yer, mate."

Our colleague - still reeling from the episode - doesn't think Mr Devlin slapped the tennis player on the shoulder. But he's not entirely sure.

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