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Among Lord Cairns's numerous qualities, one stands out as a crucial to his imminent appointment to the chairmanship of BAT, the tobacco giant. Lord Cairns is a smoker.

The appointment of a non-smoker would have pleased the anti-smoking lobby because it would have broken the united front offered by the all- smoking BAT board.

However, BAT's press department reports that not only does Lord Cairns enjoy puffing on the coffin-nails, he also sucks on the odd post-prandial cigar. "If he does not currently smoke State Express 555s then I am sure you find he soon will," a spokesman said.

An invitation to a conference for bankers organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce contains an odd reference that gives an intriguing insight into the state of honesty in the volatile south European state.

According to the invitation, there will be 500 Italian and British bankers, as well as John Craven, Morgan Grenfell, and Sir Brian Colby, chairman of Prudential, all of whom, the invitation insists, are "reputable".

A sign of the times. A group of fashionable young City types are combining their dilettante lifestyles with the fashionable need to raise money for worthy causes. The Trinity Ball will take place at the Delfina Studio Gallery in aid of the Trinity Hospice in Clapham. The organisers include Andrews Richards, a corporate financier at BZW, William Macleod, a property expert at the fund managers Baring Houston & Saunders, and Anna Burridge, a lawyer at Lovell White Durrant. Anyone wishing to spend the night in the company of a pop group called SweatBand can get tickets from Anna.

Will Carling, whose team is struggling to find top form on the rugby fields of South Africa, is this week launching a book co-written by the management guru Robert Heller. The book seeks to combine the personal experiences of Britain's top sports personalities with the struggles of our corporate giants. So, Daley Thompson's conviction that he will succeed is compared with the growth of Glaxo's pharmaceuticals business, and Adrian Moorhouse's determination to reach a new set of targets each year is compared with Sir John Harvey-Jones's own goal-setting discipline.