Bowling customers over can be a bit of old hat

City Diary
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Stan Laurel's bowler hat is going on a nation-wide tour, thanks to the building society that features two bowler-hatted men in its ads.

Bradford & Bingley bought the legendary Laurel & Hardy bowler at Bonhams auctions last autumn for pounds 2,000, after which it held a ceremony to mark the occasion with Stan Laurel's cousin, Nancy Wardell, who hails from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire. Stan himself was born in Ulverston, Cumbria, and that was where the hat tour began recently.

Now the bowler has moved on to Bradford & Bingley's Preston branch, and apparently customers are writing in asking when it will get to their locality. A spokeswoman for the society says the hat will be exhibited in a glass case at every one of the mutual's 33 branches over the next 18 months.

The society has been trumpeting its determination to resist the tidal wave of conversions and stick to its mutual status. If it is forced to recant, I can't wait to use the headline: "This is another fine mess you've gotten me into."

When Spurs boss Alan Sugar emerged from the annual Premier League meeting in Coventry a month ago, he chirruped, "Arsenal have merged with Spurs."

This didn't mean anything to anyone at the time, and was put down as further proof of the Amstrad founder's loveable sense of humour. Now that Psion is buying Amstrad it makes sense. One big shareholder in Psion, Danny Pfizman, is coincidentally the biggest shareholder in Arsenal. I look forward to them sharing a merged directors' box from now on.

No doubt Richard Warr will find Credit Lyonnais Securities quieter than one of his trips to northern Malaysia. Mr Warr has just been poached by Credit Lyonnais in London from Kleinwort Benson to be its new head of continental European equity sales. He has spent the last 12 years at Kleinwort Benson, most recently as its director for European equity sales.

But in his spare time Mr Warr is at his happiest exploring isolated parts of the globe with his camera.

Having filmed Bhuddist monks in Ladakh, northern India, and travelled in the Outback of Australia and to remote Indonesia, Mr Warr is commendably phlegmatic about the dangers he has faced.

"There was one moment when we were shot at by armed guards on a train in northern Malaysia. But it was nothing personal - everyone was being shot at," he says. The period until he joins Credit Lyonnais in September will be somewhat more peaceful. He is on gardening leave.

Chubb is sponsoring an evening race meet at Kempton Park next Wednesday, 10 July, and is keen to attract as many City types as possible. It has therefore sponsored an offer - turn up to Kempton wearing red braces and you get in for half price.

And Chubb is being thoroughly PC about it - females as well as males can take up the offer. There are six races with the gates opening at 4.30. Just think, you can cut the cost of a ticket to the Grandstand from pounds 10 to pounds 5. See you there.

What have Guinness, Friends of the Earth, Her Majesty's Treasury, Durex and Manchester United got in common?

They were all finalists for the hottest UK sites in the Internet awarded by Yell, the UK web guide from Yellow Pages. The awards were handed out last night at BAFTA in London by TV presenter Emma Forbes. Conde Nast won "Best Commercial Site" while the prize for "Best Personal Site" went to Emlyn Harris, creator of The Sexton's Tales, a series of fictional stories about Highgate Cemetery. Sadly the Treasury anoraks just failed to get a prize. Close, but no cigar.

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