The City Diary

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Parental guidance recommended: futures stars take to the stage

And so to the feel-good factor. Last week's shindig at the Royal Courts of Justice in London extracted some £200k from guests for Futures for Kids, a charity set up by particularly altruistic individuals in the futures and options industry. So far £350k has been raised towards their £1m first-year target. But the credit crunch's icy fingers curbed entertainment costs: Clive Furness of exchange consultancy Contango Markets headlined, with, from left, Cathy Lyall of Icap, and Jess Williams and Emma Davey of the London Metal Exchange belting out the vocals.

Could the scammers be scammed?

A circle-completing twist on the ol' Nigerian email scam. The new variant is framed as a letter from IMF boss Dom Strauss-Kahn, pictured, and features links to his own official IMF website biog) before going on to say: "The IMF has $2.7m in development funds for you, if you'll just fill in these account details..." Is it too un-PC to suggest this scam might catch a few actual Nigerians out, given the eagerness of the state's elite to grab at development funds to rebuild their palaces?

Marcus sees the cracks appearing

Movers & Shakers, the self-styled property networking club, held one of its breakfast bashes on Thursday. Panel members were asked for their take on the collapse in housebuilding shares. A red-faced Ian Marcus, Credit Suisse's chairman of European real estate, admitted he advised Barratt Developments. Barratt's share price had fallen 40 per cent and now faces falling out of the FTSE 250.

Gecko is angling for relaxed staff

On the subject of stress relief, J R Hartley would have loved the latest tension-busting gimmick from a Yorkshire Dales marketing company. With the River Wharfe on its doorstep, Gecko has furnished its staff with a fishing licence, and hopefully some attractive waders, so they can catch their supper at lunchtime. Thank God they're not based on the Thames, that's all we're saying.

News of the Screws too salacious for Sainsbury’s

Granted, scanning barcodes all day is enough to drive anyone to vent a little passive aggression on an unsuspecting shopper. But staff at a Sainsbury's store in York decided to throw their weight around by refusing to sell a youngster, attracted no doubt by cover girl Fearne Cotton, a copy of the 'News of the World' because he was under 16. A red-faced spokeswoman, while grovelling to the family, admitted there was no such policy. But frankly, hats off to them for trying to protect impressionable minds.

Is your cannabis farm covered?

He is, like, no way, man. Norwich Union has sent the Diary a release warning that landlords may not be covered by their insurance if – get this – their tenants damage the property through cannabis farming. According to Norwich Union underwriting manager Mike Colmans, a sure-fire sign is windows with blinds or curtains closed to "obscure any activity". Sounds like there are going to be lots of raids on people just trying to get a kip.

Father’s Day is cancelled in this family

The news – posted on the Here is the City website – that an investment banker at a prominent City firm, after refusing to turn of his mobile, suggested paying his wife's midwives to hurry along her labour, so he could get back to work, strikes the Diary as incredible. But, after he displayed such problems in dealing with anyone except his own mirror, what we're really struggling to work out is how he still has a job to go back to – let alone a wife.

He has a way with women: Campbell tells it like it is

Much fun at the annual conference of the British Property Federation (BPF) on Tuesday. Keynote speaker and former New Labour spinmeister Alastair Campbell had a right old bust-up with Radio 4's 'Today' presenter Sarah Montague. In a Q&A, Montague, who was hosting the conference, decided to get all John Humphrys and demanded an answer to her very un-commercial property related question: "Did you ever exaggerate?" Campbell demanded she gave him "a for instance", and Montague for some reason ignored dodgy dossiers, allowing Campbell to announce: "I said Tony Blair is a great man and that's what I believe ... Exaggerate? That's what the media do." Campbell by knock-out.



Diary fears that Campbell might well claim this to be an exaggeration, but frankly the Burnley bruiser was very slippery when asked if Labour could win the next election. "I hope so" was hardly a ringing endorsement. He also said that he wasn't a betting man, only later to recount how he bumped into Carole Caplin, the friend of Cherie Blair, left, whom he reportedly once described as a "ridiculous woman", in a charity casino. He also claimed that they somewhat made up at this event. Are you quite sure you don't exaggerate, Alastair?



So to the small matter of commercial property at the conference. Sir Michael Peat, the principal private secretary to Prince Charles, spoke during a session on climate change and that odd word "sustainability". The audience was in hysterics as Sir Michael opened up by announcing: "I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to say." Well, he seemed to get over that obstacle as he went on to talk, without notes, for 20 minutes.

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