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Colin Blackbourn of brokers Shore Capital has quite a cult following amongst small company investors as a stock picker. Mr Blackbourn is also, as it happens, a fanatical Kylie Minogue fan.

Colin Blackbourn of brokers Shore Capital has quite a cult following amongst small company investors as a stock picker. Mr Blackbourn is also, as it happens, a fanatical Kylie Minogue fan.

Recently he attended a book signing by the petite Antipodean songstress but was unable to get to her due to the crush of bodies. Repairing to a nearby hotel bar for a consoling drink, Mr Blackbourn was stunned to see Ms Minogue come in for a quick snifter at the very same establishment.

Throwing caution to the winds, our hero approached Ms Minogue and declared: "I am your biggest fan. I am a stockbroker. I would like to make you lots of money."

He then gave her his business card. Ms Minogue gracefully accepted the card and said she would "be in touch".

I noticed on Friday that one of Mr Blackbourn's favourite tips, Tepnel, a small pharmaceuticals company, was up 15 per cent. Market rumour had it that the rise was due to Mr Blackbourn building a stake in the company on behalf of his idol.

To paraphrase the song, "She should be so lucky..."

Established financial companies continue to lose senior people to Internet start-ups at a frightening rate. For instance eXchange, an online financial "infomediary" that floated in August, has just poached Timothy Dennis , the managing director of Reuters Global Business Group, to be its chief executive officer. At the same time, eXchange has lured Mark Bogard , managing director of b2, Barclays' online financial services arm, to head up its business-to-consumer Internet service, moneyeXtra.com.

Incidentally, "infomediary" is a new American term for services which provide information only over the Internet.

The company that spawned this Net venture, the Insurance Trading Exchange, was founded 10 years ago and now specialises in providing business-to-business information for independent financial advisers - which mortgage deals are best and so on.

There were sore heads amongst Britain's receivers and company doctors on Friday. The Society of Practitioners of Insolvency (SPI) held its annual banquet at the City's Guildhall on Thursday night.

Alan Bloom , SPI's president, explained: "We usually have it on Friday, except this year the Queen needed to use the Guildhall on Friday, so we switched to Thursday."

Mr Bloom took the opportunity at the bash to announce a key change to the SPI - it is changing its name to the Association of Business Recovery Professionals (ABRC).

He says that they want to move away from the idea that all they do is close things down. More than half their work is in rescuing troubled companies. Still, I think they could have chosen a slightly shorter name.

Anyway, the trade body is expanding its membership rules to allow in so-called "turnaround" specialists whilst marginalising "cowboys". The changes will go to a vote in January. Professor Laurie Taylor , Professor of Sociology, Birkbeck College, and a long-time star of Radio Four, gave the after-dinner speech, and stunned the audience with "the most rapid-fire delivery I've ever heard," as one bemused company doctor put it.

Mr Bloom was wrong about one thing: It wasn't the Queen who wanted the Guildhall's use on Friday, but the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester .

The Gloucesters were the guests of honour at the dinner to celebrate the 900th anniversary of "The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem".

The Most Venerable Order, which runs the St John's Ambulance Service, among many other activities worldwide, boasts the Duke as its "Grand Prior".

The Order's origins date back to the Crusades and members still wear cloaks stitched with the Maltese Cross for the processions into dinner. Henry VIII had a go at dissolving the Order, but it came back in a big way in the 19th century as an international philanthropic organisation. (And despite the archaic titles - Lord Vestey is the movement's "Lord Prior" for instance - I'm assured they have nothing to do with the Freemasons, who are an entirely different kettle of fish).

Incidentally, hats off to the Duke of Gloucester, who must win the prize for Hardest Working Royal. The Duke also attended the Guildhall dinner just three days earlier in honour of Jiang Zemin, President of China.

Janet Cohen, corporate financier and noted novelist, has joined United Assurance as non-executive director, along with Terry Gateley, a senior partner with accountants KPMG.

In August Ms Cohen stepped down from a similar role at Yorkshire Building Society. Ms Cohen, 59, is a privatisation specialist and director of Charterhouse, the merchant bank now owned by CCF.

She is also the author of a number of highly acclaimed crime novels under the pen name Janet Neel. She penned The Highest Bidder in 1992 under her own name, a steamy romp set in the corporate finance parlours of the Square Mile.

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