CITY DIARY

Cuts at Lloyd's have taken a terrible horticultural toll on the place. I can remember when, in the days of pansy-loving council member Gordon Hutton, £90,000 a year was spent on flora for the executive floor. Now there is only a vase of dried flowers.

However, some people are not doing badly at Lloyd's. Word reaches me from a Lime Street bar that Mark Brockbank, the brilliant underwriter at syndicate 861 who recently traded in his commission arrangement for £2.85m, has grown so rich he is buying a palace in St Tropez.

Not true, says Mr Brockbank. He does own a ramshackle landholding in Santa Fe, the artistic Indian community in New Mexico that hosted DH Lawrence and Ernest Hemingway. The house cost "less than a one-bedroom home in Chelsea", he says.

Maybe he has set a trend, for I hear that Richard Brendel, deputy head of John Sharman's syndicate 488, has bought a place in Colorado, to be near the skiing.

An unexpected fit of slushiness must have come over David Hudd, the flamboyant cricket-loving chairman of Vardon, the bingo-to-London Dungeons leisure company. When planning the takeover of Parkdean, the holiday camp company, which was announced on February 15, he romantically gave his company the code name Valentine and called Parkdean Princess.

Gene G Marcial, a Philippines journalist who moved to New York after the fall of Marcos, is set to publish a rich expose of sleaze and corruption on Wall Street.

The book, which is to be published in Britain, claims to tell how to rig initial public offerings and reveal the investment banker who romanced her way into closing underwriting deals when the competition clearly had the inside track.

"Marcial names big names on every page and makes revelations that will redden a lot of Wall Street faces," the book blurb reads.

I hear that such dirty tricks were unheard of when Marcial was a journalist in his home country.

Surrey-based car maker Frazer-Nash, once famous for its sports cars and defence systems, is diversifying into ecologically friendly rickshaws. The vehicle (above), christened Solar Baby, is a small solar power-assisted electric car being launched as a joint venture between India-based Peerless Developers and Frazer-Nash. The pollution-free vehicle, which sells for $4,000 (£2,700), can carry four passengers. It is ideal for city transport, according to the company. Rickshaws are a popular form of transport in India.

To me, it looks like a cross between Clive Sinclair's C5 and one of the vehicles in Gerry Anderson's forthcoming space drama, Space Precinct.

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