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Bunhill: Supping in slendour

THINGS are certainly looking up at Midland Bank. There was a time when it could not have afforded to hire a hall to hold a celebration. But the new parent company HSBC Holdings must have injected a bit of cash into the operation since taking over Midland last year. On Thursday, 150 of Midland's best customers were at the magnificent Castle Howard, the stately hall near York featured in the television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited. The bank hired the library to celebrate 150 years of doing business in the north of England.

Ken Rigby, Midland's general manager in the North, wasn't saying how much it cost. 'It's not that I'm embarrassed about it. It's just that it's none of your business. Let's just say that it was cheaper than hiring the Dorchester.' Just for the record, the Dorchester Hotel in London says that a basic no-frills dinner in one of its smaller rooms for 150 people would cost about pounds 8,000. The catering department at Castle Howard says a dinner with all the trimmings would be about pounds 110 a head - pounds 16,500 for 150 people.

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