CITY DIARY

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A day of triumph for Anglo-Saxon pluck

The champagne atmosphere at yesterday's Granada annual meeting is flattened by the irritating intervention of the ubiquitous old buffer with a point of order (it must be the same person who goes to them all). This one has a plum in his mouth and insists on confounding the still- jubilant board with irrelevant and incomprehensible observations and questions.

The first of many noted that Alex Bernstein, the Granada chairman, must now be prepared to work within the G30 group of industrialised nations and not just G7 - because the bigger group includes the Philippines. Mr Bernstein's response was to stare blankly for a while before assuring the malcontent that Granada was an equal opportunity employer

But it did not stop there More trivia followed. And still more. Then, pretending to be unimpressed by explanations on aspects of the report and accounts, the buffer demanded the chairman use "simple Anglo-Saxon words'' to put his message across.

"Actually, I'm a great believer in short Anglo-Saxon words,'' retorted Mr Bernstein to resounding cheers from the floor.

Grim news from the Central Statistical Office and we are not talking about the trade figures. The relentless drive for a leaner Whitehall machine has meant the end to the time-honoured practice of serving coffee and biscuits at economic briefings. The complimentary glass of wine at "very important economic briefings'' is also history.

The costs savings are expected to be enormous. The contract caterer Gardner Merchant (once owned by Forte) has been charging the Government 75p for each truly dreadful cup of coffee.

The Christmas party of the solicitors Davies Arnold Cooper is still causing reverberations throughout the legal profession. It seems the firm's credit controller - one Barry Desouza - did a turn with six lawyers and a secretary which went down barnstormingly well.

Featuring such contemporary classics as 'Mustang Sally', 'Honky Tonk Woman' and 'Addicted to Love', it was an accomplished set by all accounts. And the reviews are terrific. "The man is tipped to be the next Luther Vandross,'' notes the trade magazine, The Lawyer.

Certainly Mr Desouza is not your average credit controller. He has sung with Womack and Womack and the Style Council and is in much demand on the London circuit. The backing band (called The Limitations) is also reaching for the stars and should have no trouble negotiating a recording contract should the offer come along.

No comment from the deflated Forte camp on the sudden reappearance of one of Sir Rocco's long-lost flames in a Little Chef in Surrey. The odds must have been greater than a National Lottery jackpot. Simone Knightley, a blonde designer and university lecturer from Dorset, just happened to pop into the cafe with her husband while on her way home from India. There she just happened to bump into a reporter from the Daily Telegraph who had been dispatched to get background colour on the final day of the bid. "I used to be Rocco's girlfriend,'' she announced to the incredulous hack.

And yes. She chose the Linda McCartney veggie burger.

It may be freezing outside but Fosters - purveyors of the amber nectar to a grateful nation - will tomorrow invite us "to celebrate the Australian way of life'' with the biggest beer promotion campaign ever seen in the UK. For the less cultured, tomorrow is Australia Day and the brewer is to unveil a pounds 5m campaign to take 1,000 Britons on a "dream holiday'' Down Under. The airlift will involve nine special Qantas flights to Sydney (above) where the 1,000 winners of a national competition called Fostralia 1,000 (I'm afraid so) will be let loose among the barbies with more lager than they can handle.

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