Regarding the John Player dinner (Letters, March), Eoin Young has dined out on this one at my expense for many years, but it would be best if the whole story were told. I arranged the dinner for David Walker at a posh restaurant in Clermont-Ferrand, where the big gun Geoffrey Kent (boss of John Player) was due to be present. It was the biggest test with which my new career in PR had been faced up to that moment (if we exclude nearly being locked up in one of Franco’s jails).
That afternoon, it transpired that Lotus’s supply of fuel had been delivered to a local depot which was now locked up for the weekend, leaving Team Lotus without its specially formulated jungle juice.
Because I spoke French, I was ordered by Peter Warr to go with a couple of mechanics down to the depot, where liberating the fuel involved climbing over fences, disabling alarms and the illegal use of cutting devices. When I arrived at the restaurant I was about two hours late, sweaty and unwashed, and full of desire to kill Peter Warr.
ESY had decided to entertain the assembled hacks by decorating the menus with various anti-ciggy slogans, and the gentlemen of the press had got hilariously lit up on countless bottles of expensive wine. You’ll know by now who got the blame for the ugly scenario which greeted his Majesty GK when he arrived…
The entire cost of the dinner was charged to my personal credit card, and in the extremely unpleasant aftermath of the event at Stanbury-Foley (the PR agency from which JPS operated the F1 account), it was decided to punish Doodson by withholding payment.
I won’t go into details of the various disasters which then enveloped me, but some of them involved court orders and gentlemen in bowler hats arriving just after dawn at my flat.
ESY thought, and thinks, that it was all hilarious. I thought, and think, otherwise.
Mike Doodson, Forest Row, East Sussex