BUNHILL : Barking up a City street

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The Independent Online
I ALWAYS thought City folk were barking mad. Now I know. I was chatting to David Tabizel, a shareholder in the stockbroker Durlacher who is also head of their multimedia team. We were talking of important things, found elsewhere in these pages, when he started barking at me. Literally.

Mr Tabizel is an accomplished dog imitator. "I empathise with our hairy friends," he says. "I used to train them and if I see a dog in the park it will come to me." He is not barking to impress humans (though it impressed me) but to talk to dogs. And yes, he is a little potty. "Sometimes if I'm feeling particularly stressed in the street, I let out a bark."

He does a great variety of barks, and demonstrated a few on the phone. I have a sort-of-Alsatian, but he would not do a sort-of-Alsatian bark because it is too painful. "I have vocal nodules from 30 years of dog barking," he says.

Fortunately, his technical expertise means he will be able to share his talent without pain. He has already written a concerto of dog barks (did I ever tell you the one about Bach, Offenbach and Debussy?), and will be putting his canine hits on the Internet.

Mr Tabizel puts his unusual hobby down to his childhood (blame the parents). "As a child I wasn't allowed a dog, so I made up my own," he says. He doesn't have one now, either, but he has just got married and intends to get three.

THE Department of Trade and Industry was out on Thursday. Well, it was sort of out and in - it was moving house, which meant it was tricky to get much help on either trade or industry. The DTI always used to be in a large, ugly box right next to Westminster Abbey. A few years ago, it left and moved up to a scattering of buildings near Victoria Station; now it is moving back. Why? Why do government ministries ever do anything?

It is a shame, though, that Michael Heseltine was not there to oversee the move, having been elevated from the DTI. I have a vision of him being carried in a sedan chair down Victoria Street, probably carrying a mace. Ian Lang, his successor as President of the Board of Trade, may well have been there. But how would anyone know?

Drawing out ideas

REBECCA JENKINS, lorry driver turned managing director of the haulier Lane Group, once tried an intriguing way of motivating her supervisors. She took them to a hotel room and threw coloured pens on the floor.

"I told them to draw a picture of a day in the life of Lane Group," she says. "I drew a multicoloured rollercoaster. One showed a train going through a tunnel of darkness and suddenly coming out into light. Another drew a table with `In' and `Out' trays loaded with paper. One had a hand chained to his desk while his other was reaching for customers."

Fascinating but spooky - I think managerial drawing could be the next thing after Total Quality Business Process Engineering.

WHEN Mark Boddington was growing up, he always knew he would go into the brewing business founded by his great-great-grandfather and run by his dad. Except he didn't: he flunked his A-levels and failed to get onto the estate management course he thought he needed. It was a splendid excuse, because he could then do what he was really good at - making furniture.

Now, at the age of 31, Boddington runs his own Chester-based company, Silver Lining, and is on course to become something rather more special than a brewer (not that Boddington brews beer any more, but that's another story). Boddington's chairs are already being described as modern classics, and last year the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers declared that his was the outstanding collection of the year.

He does not underestimate his talent. "We want to develop a brand like Chippendale which is collectable quality," he says

But the business genes run deep. Boddington no longer makes much furniture himself, but he runs the little company (nine people) with a professionalism that many bigger companies could learn from. Everyone - including him - has regular training, and he has resisted the temptation to allow his delivery time to stretch to a prestigious but absurd degree.

He spends much of his time whizzing round the world knocking on the doors of the rich and tasteful - well, the chairs go from pounds 390 to pounds 4,500 - and has "several royal families and eight billionaires" as customers. He has also done a couple of gentleman's commodes. For English customers, of course . . .

Touch of the sun

WHAT, you ask, is this ruddy great thing doing in a narrow street in central London? Is it a piece of the Brent Spar Greenpeace has hijacked and dumped off the Tottenham Court Road? Is it a protest against the unfortunate landlord of this small pub? Perhaps Greenpeace has had a road-to-Damascus experience and is now encouraging juggernauts to come into our cities?

None of these, but almost as daft. Greenpeace was last week publicising its presence on the Internet by powering Cyberia entirely from solar panels bolted to the top of a lorry. Cyberia is a cafe where you can drink cappuccino and "surf the Net".

For this demonstration it agreed to unplug itself from the mains and take all its power from the lorry. The demo worked, so off you go chaps - all you need to cut your electricity bills is to buy a juggernaut, bolt on the panels, and you're off.