CITY DIARY

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You take the high road and I'll take a skirt

Condolences to Justin Urquhart-Stewart, the flamboyant director of Barclays Stockbrokers, who has been mistaken for a cross-dresser in a Paris bar. Friends say that the motorcycling Scot, who was wearing his kilt at the time, is badly shaken by the experience.

It appears that the boulevardier had popped over to the French capital for an evening with his wife and her family. Formally dressed for the evening's entertainment, he decided a sharpener was in order and duly nipped down to the local bar with his brother-in-law.

A kilted Scot in a Paris bar is bound to attract attention. But Mr Urquhart- Stewart, who admits to looking like ''something left over from Culloden'', felt the proprietor's welcome was just a shade too warm. It was then that the barman showed the broker a picture of himself dressed as Edith Piaf. "I am so happy to have people like you in my bar,'' he leered.

The Scots retreated. Much like at Culloden.

It looks like marshmallows around the camp fire in Lincoln's Inn Field for the Daily Telegraph's City office. Staff have been three-line whipped for a bit of weekend bonding on 18 November at what looks suspiciously like the offices of Brunswick, the PR agency.

A mysterious memo to staff from Neil Collins, the City editor, explains: "It's an away day to discuss the future of the City Pages. Although attendance is not compulsory those of a paranoid disposition will regret not being there and the rest of us might have a good time (although some work will be done). There will be no counselling. At this stage I do not intend to answer press inquiries...''

A wise move. While they would not confirm it, the navel gaze is apparently being run by Professional Presentations, a human resources consultancy based in Brunswick's offices and run by Lucy Parker, sister of the PR agency's Alan Parker.

While Mr Parker will not object to ever-closer relations with the Daily Telegraph, some of the journalists are certain to. The away day coincides with the much-anticipated England versus South Africa rugby union match at Twickenham.

Hospitality tickets have had to be turned down.

Hoare Govett has been deeply offended by market tittle-tattle surrounding its ''buy'' note on Airtours last week. Nowhere in the 22-page document was there a reference to the fact that the firm is the company's broker.

"Ah yes,'' storms Andrew Hunter, the HG analyst behind the recommendation. "That's very true. But that is because the person who is normally responsible for such things was taken ill that day with heart failure.''

Conceding that the omission may be in breach of compliance regulations Mr Hunter warms to his theme. "It is not as though this was a new client,'' he says. "Have they [HG's rivals] got nothing better to do than to pore over other people's research?''

First Domestic, the home appliance insurer, has been quick to defuse damaging publicity surrounding British Gas's commission payments to service engineers who sell new boilers. "From the 100,000 policies currently insured only 0.1 per cent have required a replacement boiler in the last year,'' says chief executive Peter Moderate (I kid you not).

The thousand-year boiler has arrived.

A stormy session at the monthly council meeting of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales yesterday (Are you sure? - Ed.) where the issue of predatory pricing among auditors stirred many a deep-seated passion. As is usual at these meetings, the bombastic views of Douglas Llambias, the portly recruitment consultant, were not universally appreciated.

Rising to challenge the excitable councillor, PeterWyman, a Coopers & Lybrand tax partner, observed: "Before we rearranged the seating at these meetings I used to sit opposite Douglas Llambias. Now that I sit behind him I can see where his views come from." The meeting disbanded in a profound state of shock.

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