Why speech is not always free

Believe it or not, there is a company which specialises in hiring out after-dinner speakers. British Speakers Bureau claims to have access to some of the top names on the international speaking circuit.

Among those you are able to hire for a function are ex-president of the United States George Bush; disco diva Donna Summer; film director Spike Lee; and the Gulf War hero General Norman Schwarzkopf.

Luckily, the company assures us that if “your chosen speaker falls off his Polo pony at the weekend, we’re obliged to find you a replacement of equal or superior status at no extra charge”.

But how do you find an equal replacement for George Bush – what if Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford are busy? And how can do you go about replacing Donna Summer – with a star from BSB’s Best of British list, such as Victoria Wood or Henry Cooper?

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