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I’ve arrived in Taiwan for a series of meetings and by the looks of the weather The Moodie Report’s temporary Taipei bureau may be forced to remain open for some time.
That’s because Typhoon Soulik is due to hit the island later today with a vengeance. Winds are expected to reach level 17 on the Beaufort scale (anything above 11 signifies a very high risk of serious damage) with Soulik due to make landfall some time this afternoon, sweeping through the country from this evening.
[Ever Rich Duty Free’s Arrivals shops at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport]
The government last night launched its first-level disaster response centre, underlining the magnitude of Soulik.
As luck wouldn’t have it, I’m flying out of Taipei at 8pm via Bangkok, which promises therefore to be a bumpy ride if we do get airborne. I’m normally a stoical flyer but I’m starting to regret watching the Denzel Washington movie ‘Flight’ the other day…
Never mind, there are worse places to be stranded than this amazing city. Last night I had the honour to join a wonderful night hosted by Ever Rich Duty Free’s Simon and Kevin Chiang, as they bade the fondest of farewells to Camus executive Richard Ferne who is retiring (though hardly shy…) from the industry at the end of the month.
[Simon and Kevin Chiang present Richard with a magnificent scrolled tapestry]
Richard has been in the drinks and travel retail industry for almost three decades, working variously at Whyte & Mackay, Allied Distillers, IDV, Brown-Forman and Camus. He’s also served trade associations TFWA and APTRA with much dedication as well as being one of the straightest guys in the industry.
Not, to use mild understatement, of the shrinking violet variety, Richard tells it how he sees it and it’s that honesty and candour, linked to a deep belief that relationships as well as products underpin business, that have made him such a popular and respected figure.
Personally, he’s helped me out many times down the years, proving a great source of industry knowledge and advice when I set off on my own industry journey all those years ago in the late 1980s. To some amusement – and a fair amount of disbelief among fellow diners – I regaled guests last night with an account of how Richard and I had played in the same rugby team a few years back, as part of the ‘Sexy Saxons’ that triumphed over the all-French ‘Latin Lovers’ in Cannes on several occasions a few years back.
As the ‘Little and Large’ members of the team, Richard and I would never be mistaken for identical twins but that didn’t stop us being useful enough in our respective positions (him prop, me full back) on the rugby field. We would chuckle how the Latin Lovers, dominated by French fragrance executives would race onto the field smelling like a Sephora store, while our eccentric, at times motley crew of ill-shaped, aging veterans staggered pitchside, many of them having smoked half a pack of cigarettes in the changing rooms in last-minute preparation. And then we would beat them.
But Richard, as a great Scotland rugby supporter, is also used to disappointment so it was with great pleasure that I presented him last night with a symbol of sporting prowess – an All Blacks tie, replete with the famous silver fern.
A silver fern for a golden Ferne. I and everyone who knows Richard will wish him a long and happy retirement back in Louisville, Kentucky.
Footnote: Before dinner we had the privilege of touring the magnificent Chinese art exhibition (below) housed at Ever Rich’s new downtown store in Neihu, Taipei. This world-class feast of the senses features an astonishing range of old, sometimes ancient masterpieces carved from wood, stone, jade and other materials. I have never seen anything like it in my life.
[This sumptuous work took 16 craftsmen 17 years to complete]
So many farewell parties for our big man… We did ours last night in Hong Kong on a junk cruising the harbor. It was informal, fun with a lot of emotions.
We did use some photos in our diaporama tracing back all his year in the industry. You did appear on a few…
When someone meets you they always remember who you are and how you look like. Two great attributes for a sales man, unforgettable that’s what you are….. ”
Richard was not bad at cricket either. I recall a particular game in Singapore where our respective high scores astounded everyone . I still have that bottle of GENTLEMAN JACK waiting to be opened when I get anyone from DF visiting me here in PLETT BAY , S. AFRICA .
Enjoy your retirement Richard
I wish you all the best back here in the states. Remember, Miami is just a puddle jumper away if you start to get bored. Cheers.