Tulkinghorn would like to thank Eversheds for allowing him to sneak into the firm’s Midlands annual general meeting (AGM) a couple of weeks ago. The trouble is, when he arrived he wasn’t quite expecting to find himself thrust into a full-scale rendition of the musical Chicago.
From what Tulkinghorn could ascertain, Eversheds takes the view that its AGMs should be fun for all and basically an excuse to get mullered, while at the same time enabling the staff to see the bosses in a whole new light.
Move over Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere, enter Midlands chief Meg Heppel and deputy John Sarginson. Together with their department heads, the duo drove into the vast marquee venue in a silver 1920s Roller, fully clad in flapper dresses and gangster suits. A few of them even tried on an American accent for size (full credit to litigation partner Paul Llewellyn), while Midlands property head Mary Daunt was a dead ringer for Renée Zellweger.
A highlight of the show was a black-and-white flick of an Eversheds choir performing its very own version of All That Jazz. Now just try and hum the tune to these: “No one’s ugly/ And we all smell nice/ At Eversheds We dress like extras from Miami Vice/ At Eversheds Come on in and you can Have Your Say/ Choose a different lifestyle/ Work on Saturday You can send a saucy e-mail off to David Gray/ At Eversheds…”.
All harmless fun, you might think, but then the lyricist also seemed to be engaging in some subtle brainwashing: “Oh the Midlands merger made what I am/ At Eversheds (duet) I’m in love with everyone in Nottingham/ Birmingham/ At Eversheds I’m so happy I’m not leaving/ Can you hear my heavy breathing? Since being born I’ve always got the horn/ From Eversheds”.
See what we mean?
Godmother Meg Heppel took the opportunity to make a few comedy awards to her staff. Tulkinghorn’s favourite was the runner-up for Wise Guy of the Year Peter McMonagle, who bought a pair of used Speedos put up for sale on ebay by his colleague Martin Deely and gave them back to him on his birthday. Oh, the humiliation.
All of this went on under the watchful gaze of David Gray, who inculcated staff into his new cult of ‘Visions & Values’. His only mistake was to tell staff to take the opportunity to come and meet their leader later on. One Nottingham employee took him at his word, bounding up to Gray’s table after his speech. “I thought your speech was really good David,” she enthused. “But you went on a bit too long. About five minutes too long, actually.”
Tulkinghorn’s not entirely sure that this was what Gray had in mind…