Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 27/10/2004The gong season is progressing nicely, and Dan Ilett is off doing his bit at the PR Week awards. The party goes well, with guest speaker Stephen Fry giving a good account of himself and the profession: "We're all whores and prostitutes, and if you're very, very good at it you go into PR.

Wednesday 27/10/2004
The gong season is progressing nicely, and Dan Ilett is off doing his bit at the PR Week awards. The party goes well, with guest speaker Stephen Fry giving a good account of himself and the profession: "We're all whores and prostitutes, and if you're very, very good at it you go into PR." So the mood is jolly when the evening breaks up, and our hero finds himself in that endless queue for the cloakroom. Next to him is a loud and lippy Cockney geezer - tall, gangly, receding dark hair - and his rambunctious entourage.

For some reason, matey takes an interest in Dan's choice of evening wear. "What sort of jacket's that, then?" he said in a rather forceful manner. "This? It's a velvet jacket," said Dan, not inaccurately. "Yer, well, it's nice enough, but it's not the sort of thing you should wear to an evening like this!" said his new-found sartorial adviser. At this, the hangers-on decided to chip in and back up their boss with a few choice comments about the terrible dress sense of the modern man, with particular reference to Dan's outfit. It was all, reports our put-upon hero, rather reminiscent of getting picked on at school for having the wrong shoes.

Still, he bore it stoically and refused to rise to the bait. Nothing is more boring to the soused comedian than indifference, so things calmed down. "'Ere, no hard feelings" says the man. "What do you do, then?"

"I'm a journalist", says Dan. There is a momentary silence, broken only by the sound of all the blood in blokey's face retreating to within.

"Oh, er, er, good. What title d'you work for?" said our somewhat less cocky correspondent.

"ZDNet." A keen student of anthropology would at this point be able to diagnose panic in the body language of one of the two parties.

A gaggle of PR women appear: impeccable timing is a PR's best friend. "Oh, hi, Dan!" they say. "Good evening? Wasn't it fun? Ah, you're talking to Mike!"

Mike? Yes, Mike. Otherwise known as Mike King, MD of Johnson King - hi-tech PR to people such as Sophos, Aruba Networks, Mirrorpoint and others. If you look on their Web site, they pride themselves on their talent for media relations - a talent that Mike at once put to good use.

"Look, here's my card. Don't dump me in it, will you?" he said to his new best pal, Dan. And he was very friendly for the few moments they had left together. Dan, being a man of considerable forbearance and honour in adversity, would of course do no such thing.

Shame about the people he works with, though. They'd sell someone down the river in a trice if there's a good story in it.