Busloads of Welsh steelworkers were arriving at Gatwick North Terminal this afternoon to welcome Wandsworth Eye back from his successful mission to save their ailing industry. The Eye flew to the French Riviera on Monday in a last-ditch bid to rescue the Port Talbot steelworks after cruel owners Tata of India pulled the plug on the much-loved industrial complex.
|French Riviera: high-powered meetings|
At a time of year when most people's thoughts turn to summer holidays, the Eye went straight into high-powered meetings with local steel magnates on the Côte d'Azur, pleading with them to rescue the heart and soul of the Welsh valleys. Eager to leave no stone unturned, the Eye also plundered his celebrity contact book to arrange conference calls with wealthy potential benefactors including Roman Abramovitch, Sophia Loren and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
|Eye's hectic schedule|
The Eye's hectic schedule took him to dreary meetings in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Menton, Entrevaux and Antibes. And it was there, late on Friday afternoon, that the breakthrough came: an invitation to discuss the Port Talbot crisis with much-loved industrial tycoon Richard Roper at his modest pied-à-terre on Cap d'Antibes.
|Roper's modest residence|
A source said of the encounter: "This was the breakthrough. Mr Roper had heard all about the Eye and saw in him the ideal business partner. Contracts will shortly be signed guaranteeing Port Talbot years of fruitful work. The new joint venture, Roper Eye Consulting, plans further investments in the Middle East and North Africa - which, alas, will mean much arduous business travel for the Eye in the months to come. It is most unfortunate, as the Eye had hoped to visit his dear old Aunt Mabel in Scunthorpe this summer, but work must come first."
Jubilant Welsh steelworkers clad in traditional costumes gathered at Gatwick's plush North Terminal this afternoon to welcome the Eye back to Britain. Their spokesman, Dafydd Davies, said: "Cwm gwillm chwil Roper Eye Consulting cwm Cymru bravo gogogoch!"