CITY DIARY

William Waldegrave, Secretary of State for Agriculture and a focus for Lord Justice Scott's arms-to-Iraq inquiry, is due to take the stand in another house today when he joins the traditional 12.30pm dialogue at St Mary Le Bow church in the City for an "unscripted discussion" on the future of the church followed by lunch. The Reverend Victor Stock, vicar of the church, has a reputation for attracting guest speakers at poignant moments in their careers. Last year the Employment Secretary, Michael Portillo, found himself there not long after his comments about the lifestyle of single women with children. Needless to say, they came back to haunt him.

Anything can happen in South Africa at the moment, not just English drop kicks which snatch victory in the last minutes. Life assurance does not normally generate much publicity, but when Old Mutual, South Africa's biggest life assurer, threw a party for its 150th birthday last week, guest of honour was none other than President Nelson Mandela himself. Not only did he turn up, but he said nice things about the company. Deputy president De Klerk also attended the bash. Although John Major has taken to making the Skipton Building Society's announcements in the House viz: the guarantee on mortgage repayments for the unemployment last week, it is hard to imagine John Major attending any party a UK life assurer might care to throw. Then again, would a life assurer want John Major at its party?

Everyone knows there is no love lost between the pools firms, particularly Littlewoods, owned by the Moores family, and the National Lottery. The saga took a rather ironic twist last week when the Dambrook Farm, near Settle in North Yorkshire, belonging to the late Sir John Moores, was sold to the National Trust. The Trust was understandably delighted to scoop up the beautiful property. The farm was on the market for pounds 790,000. The National Trust paid pounds 203,100, and the National Lottery coughed up the difference of pounds 586,900. Sweet revenge for the Littlewoods pool heirs, no doubt. A York newspaper quoted Alister Clunas from the National Trust saying rather more than he should on the matter in an off-the-cuff remark. Imagination is required, but the quote was later pared down to: "This is excellent news."

IFAs go floating around every year, and not just on any old boat. They gather for a three-day sojourn on the QE2 for their very own conference- on-the-water known as PIMS. Restrictions such as not being able to leave if you want to may fuel the conference's reputation for being a boozy affair. This year's was reported to be rather more sober than most. However, given that the ratio of men to women was 18:1, it was not a surprise to hear at least one delegate probably had a party of their own. Lost property reported that someone had left a wedding ring in a cabin.

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