CITY DIARY

Carling finds a whole new ball game in the NHS

Now that Will Carling is no longer captain of the England rugby team he can concentrate even harder on his commercial activities. How fitting that, having been carried off the Ireland game on Saturday with torn ligaments, our Will should this Wednesday be launching a health-care appointments company.

Match Healthcare Services has been formed to place specialist medical and nursing staff within NHS trusts. A press hand-out declares: "The Eve Club on London's Regent Street, made famous by the affairs of the Hon Mr John Profumo and Miss Christine Keeler, will again play host to an affair of a different sort.

"This time the star player is Will Carling, but on a considerably less scandalous venture!" Nudge, nudge, as they say. Lets hope some paramedics are on hand if he falls over again.

On the same day Will's former team-mate Rob Andrew will be trying to beat the longest world place-kick record as part of the 1996 Property Awards. Property agents are obviously a rugby mad lot - Rob Andrew used to be one - and the London Docklands Development Corporation took advantage of this last weekend.

The LDDC was attending the MIPIM property conference in Cannes, and won wide acclaim from the British contingent by setting up a huge screen in a marquee on the beach to show the England-Ireland match live. Locals were startled, according to our man on the spot, by the sudden blast of the national anthem being belted out by 200-odd property agents.

Argos, the catalogue retail company, leapt onto the information super highway nine months ago when it introduced shopping via the Internet. And the fruits of this Cybershopping so far? Since launch, 22 items sold.

The Methodist Church has just received an astonishing windfall of pounds 92m from the sale of a plot of land in central Hong Kong. To be more accurate, the Council for World Mission, a small Westminster-based charity with historic links to the Methodist Church, has suddenly found itself bigger than the British Red Cross.

According to the Methodist Recorder, the land was bought from the Crown by the London Missionary Society in 1887, and two hospitals were built on it. Nineteen years ago the CWM took over the hospitals, and three years ago it moved them elsewhere and sold the site for pounds 135m. With just 15 staff and 62 mission partners world-wide, the CWM now finds itself, in investment income terms, nearly as big as the National Trust.

Mike Blackburn, chief executive of Halifax, is as fickle as the rest of us when it comes to management gurus. Four years ago Blackburn was smitten by the then fashionable Tom Peters. After one session he commented: "It's a bit like an evangelical meeting .... What did impress me was his stress on empowering people." Now Halifax are lead sponsors of a two- day masterclass by "management expert" Gary Hamel.

Blackburn described this as a "very special event. Gary Hamel's work has been enormously influential ... his views have influenced our approach to the analysis of our business."

Simon Jeffreys, employment partner at City solicitors McKenna & Co, rubs his hands with glee relating the story of a client who had a problem with an employee who was "grossly abusing his sick leave". The client knew what was happening, but couldn't prove anything. Until, that is, the employee appeared on the front of an angling magazine proudly displaying an enormous carp. The photo caption revealed that the date this monster was landed happened to be one of the dates when said employee had "thrown a sicky". He must have been gutted.

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