All power to the people, unless they're called Sid; City Diary

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Ofgas Czarina Clare Spottiswoode has nailed her colours to the mast as "the customers' regulator" and "the people's friend". Well, at this week's press conference, she did.

She sang a different tune, however, at the subsequent City analysts' conference.

While declaring the cuts in TransCo's prices were her final proposals, Ms Spottiswoode said she hoped there would not be another "insidious barrage from the public".

Ofgas is only interested in "serious" argument, she said, and has been unimpressed and uninterested in the "barrage" of correspondence from the public.

Ms Spottiswoode was referring to the 35,000 letters from angry Sids and Samanthas that have deluged Ofgas since it announced its price cutting proposals in May.

George Orwell would recognise Ms Spottiswoode's logic immediately. Evidently, some people are more "public" than others, depending on whether they buy gas or gas shares.

Footie fans will be familiar with Fabrizio "Silver Fox" Ravanelli's habit of pulling his shirt over his head and running around blind whenever he scores a goal for Middlesborough.

Seeing a marketing opportunity, Howard Ford's Cell- net, which has a pounds 3m sponsorship deal with 'Boro, wanted to put its logo on the inside of the Italian striker's shirt.

Thus, every time the Fox planted the ball in the back of the onion bag, thousands of supporters and TV viewers would get a flash of Cellnet.

The Football Association has blocked the move. It has strict limits on the amount of branding allowed on each soccer jersey, totalling 32 square inches, and 'Boro's shirts already have that.

Cellnet also sponsors the England Rugby team, a game in which members of the scrum often have to change their shorts on the field after a particularly violent ruck. Another opportunity for Cellnet, perhaps?

A chipper Viscount Weir, chairman of pump and valve maker the Weir Group, is an example to us all. Two years ago next week, the Eton and Cambridge- educated industrialist's car was hit head-on by a stolen motor being driven at 90mph. The third Viscount is still on crutches, almost 24 months later.

"However, one mustn't get too depressed by such things," he says.

Happily, his doctor has told him he can progress to walking sticks next week, and will be playing golf by November.

Viscount Weir, 62, a Scottish Tory from Ayrshire, is also a member of that gloriously anachronistic club, the Queen's Body Guard of Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers. Whether he will be plucking a bow in the near future he failed to say.

Sir Clive Thompson and Rentokil are gearing up for a courtroom showdown with former BET chief executive L John Clark, who is claiming pounds 3.3m after being sacked in Rentokil's hostile takeover.

Sir Clive says: "We are surprised that Mr Clark has chosen not to accept what we believe is an excellent offer, particularly as Mr Clark benefited from Rentokil's bid, as a result of his share options and long-term incentive plan."

That ageing prankster Richard Branson has taken time off from his summer hols in his sun-kissed Caribbean retreat on Necker Island to agree a send-up (above) of the Tories' "Blair demonic eyes" poster campaign.

Virgin Direct has hijacked the Labour-bashing campaign in order to push the company's growing range of personal financial services, in this case life insurance.