City Diary

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The Independent Online
THIS WEEK's hot, hot ticket has to be tomorrow night's performance at the Dublin Castle in London's Camden Town by the renowned Tokio Drifters. For those not in the know, this fab rock five-some - described in their latest flyer as a cross between The Police, Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan - provide living proof that there is some talent in the City after all.

Three of the five, lead singer Simon Ibbitson, guitarist Toshio Ogahara and drummer Dan Addison, have day jobs at UBS. Bassist Andrew Clark is a funky MAM fund manager, and Kevin Gardiner describes himself as the lead UK guitarist at Morgan Stanley. Even the group's glamourous new backing vocalists are all chanteuses from UBS and MAM.

The group already has two albums to its credit, and last week raised thousands of pounds for children's charities with a sell-out gig at Spitz, just east of the Square Mile - all credit to UBS for a donation matching the takings from ticket sales.

Osaka-born Toshio is the songwriter but doesn't sing; he confesses to having trouble with those "fiendish western consonants". Check out the sound for yourself at www.tokiodrifters.freeserve.co.uk. Or they're onstage at the Dublin Castle at 10.30pm.

Advance tickets can also be ordered online. As dreamboat Kevin puts it: "We've suffered for our music. Now it's your turn."

ON THE other hand, if you're the stay-at-home type, there is still time to buy tickets for the NSPCC's Virtual Millennium Ball, the non-event of the season.

For just pounds 100 a ticket you can sit quietly in front of the telly, joining celebs such as the Duke of York and Ian Hislop, as well as lots of City dignitaries. Pay more than pounds 150 for your ticket and you will be entered to a free draw for a real flight to New York on Concorde. If this is more to your taste, call 0171 596 3717 for non-tickets.

YOU WOULD think that Brian Stewart, the chief executive of Scottish & Newcastle, would be full of praise for Derek Wilkinson, his financial director. The UK's biggest brewing company last week posted half-year pre-tax profits up pounds 15m at pounds 222.3m on turnover up 2 per cent at pounds 1.7bn. But Mr Stewart is positively fuming.

"Every time we announce our results, we have to have our photographs taken and Derek is the only one who doesn't have a grey hair," he explains.

Mr Stewart, who blames his own dignified silver streaks on his previous employer, the Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association, could be forgiven for exacting his revenge on Mr Wilkinson and banishing the offending youthful locks by causing him maximum stress. Instead, he has a much simpler and more amicable solution. "I'll use bleach," he says.

NATWEST WAS pleased as punch to win the Plain English Campaign's Crystal Clear Bank and Building Society Trophy for a record fourth time in five years on Wednesday.

Despite being besieged by two competing bids for itself from Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest took comfort from the award, which recognises "commitment to communicating with customers, shareholders and staff in plain English."

The prize was made all the sweeter by one of the examples of gobbledegook seized on by the Campaign for Plain English. The offender was Bank of Scotland.

MARTIN WEALE, the ultra-brainy head of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, has set himself a seasonal economics puzzle: what would be the optimal distribution of Christmases over a lifetime?

Obviously, the answer depends on all sorts of factors. Does the boost to the economy every December outweigh the costs of increased congestion when everybody tries to go shopping at the same time? How big are the productivity losses associated with office parties compared with the impact of the morale boost? Preliminary research suggests that, luckily, the answer is once a year. Although once in a lifetime would probably have been enough for Ebenezer Scrooge.

JOHN BUNN, a member of the public relations team at accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, turned up at a meeting with senior tax partner Peter Wyman at the beginning of the week with a black eye and stitches.

Mr Bunn's battered visage caused considerable interest and, it must be said, merriment amongst his colleagues. The former scribe for Accountancy Age explained that he had been playing rugby for his school old-boys team in Croydon. One of the opposition hit him in a ruck when the ref wasn't looking and he had to have his wounds stitched up in hospital.

One of Mr Bunn's PR colleagues refused to be impressed, however. Julie Harwood told The Independent that his "black eye" was "only a little black". Not much hero worship there.

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