Insider goes spinning at lunchtime, is all at sea but still on dry land, and is bemused by Joe Plumeri’s single-track mind

Well, shiver me timbers, it was the annual Aon press party last week, and where better to hold it than on the replica of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde, on London’s South Bank. Flushed with the Manchester United sponsorship, which had been announced the same day, Aon’s communications team and spokespeople were on top form.

“If anyone gets drunk, then well done to them,” announced comms director Charles Willy from the upper deck. “If anyone gets really drunk, then even better – but we might make them walk the plank.”

Well, it’s fair to say there were a few contenders for that honour, but perhaps none more so than the actor dressed as Sir Francis Drake. His rendition of Madonna’s Like A Virgin – or a “Virgin Queen”, take a bow Elizabeth – was one of the evening’s more surreal moments.

You’ve got to hand it to the broker boss

“They’ve got sad lives,” growled the broker boss, when asked about a rather persistent rumour that he got a bit handy with the bouncers at a recent concert at O2. It’s all a load of rubbish, apparently. Which, given that the phones at Insurance Times have been ringing red hot with the rumour, just goes to show: you can never trust a broker.

Lunchtime spin class . . .

Meanwhile I hear that Heath Lambert boss Adrian Colosso has finally released the head of his director of communications Elliot Lane from a vice after the great onion-throwing branding debacle with Groupama at Biba.

Lane has emerged unscathed to become Heath’s interim marketing director, a promotion apparently. Groupama marketing chief Jamie Marchant was spotted lunching with Lane in the City to smooth things over while having a good old laugh at the acres of guerilla marketing copy the duel inadvertently achieved. Spin if you want to go faster!

Bogged down on shore

The bad news just keeps coming these days. According to The Times, private equity buy-outs have almost dried up, with only five deals announced this quarter across all sectors. Now, there must still be a fair few brokers waiting for their yacht to come in – and they’re going to have to keep on waiting.

Sometimes it can be a mug’s game

My friends at Insurance Times have asked me to say a special thank you to the marketing bods at Aviva, who, despite the busiest week of their lives, managed to find time to answer last week’s plea for a big box of mugs, biccies, chocolates and tea trays. Little did they know just how useful the mugs would be at IT Towers, which has long been plagued by a shortage of drinking vessels. Meanwhile, the newsdesk has found a good use for the trays – frisbee games on a Tuesday afternoon.

Plumeri’s towering confession

It’s not often that you hear effervescent Willis boss Joe Plumeri apologise – but that’s just what he’s done, according to the Chicago Tribune. Apparently the outspoken boy from New Jersey held up his hands in the face of rage in the US at his plans to change Chicago’s Sears Tower to the Willis Tower this summer. Following the launch of a Facebook site and petition against the plans, Plumeri has admitted to his mistake. And no, its not the bid to change the name of the landmark tower. Rather, it’s having given the mistaken impression that Willis is “too British”.

“More information about the company’s lack of Britishness might have been good,” Plumeri conceded. But there will be no backtracking. “They can call it whatever they want, even ‘The Big Willie’. All I know is that the day we announced that this building would be named Willis Tower, everybody in America knew who Willis was.”