The anniversary of Black Wednesday passed without a hitch. President Dubya didn’t start any wars...

For once everything seemed to go right. The anniversary of Black Wednesday passed without a hitch. President Dubya didn?t start any wars. The sun shone consistently, while a brisk breeze snapped the flags and banners to attention and imparted a festive air.

I refer, of course, to the recent Southampton Boat Show (p55). Conditions all seemed right for serious business to be done along the pontoons, and I was left once again pondering the intriguing psychology behind the business of buying and selling. A good start to the show fires up the sales teams, providing a morale boost that carries them through the rest of the show and inspires them to be more effective, it was explained to me by the sales director of one of our biggest boatbuilders.

This sounds plausible, but it does tend to suggest that if a salesman had a good day on the first Saturday, taking a couple of deposits, he?d still be sufficiently fired up and persuasive by the time of your visit on the Wednesday to cajole you into buying that 39 you?d been thinking about. Whereas if it had rained on the Saturday, and he hadn?t had such a good day, by Wednesday he?d be deeply despondent about the whole thing and you wouldn?t buy your boat after all. Are we really so malleable? Probably. No-one here has ever suggested that buying a boat is at all logical or sensible.

So much for the show: it?s a superb event that I always enjoy, and this year?s was particularly good. But can we change the venue please? I?m becoming rather weary of Southampton. I think Tom?s succinct appraisal of the charms of the town rather understates the case against it. Trudging up the High Street at midnight on the first Saturday after another utterly dismal meal, we passed a shrieking gaggle of under-dressed young women at the entrance to a club, discussing alternative venues. ?Nah, we got to go ?ere,? screamed one, ?I wanna f**k Phil!?

Where was the lucky Phil, we wondered, as we retired to the grubby sanctuary of our hotel? Perhaps that was him, legging it towards the cab rank.