City Diary: Andersen's political double-act

Andersen Consulting is fielding two candidates in the next general election who, if successful, will face each other on opposite sides of the House. Patricia Hewitt and Mary Macleod have been selected as prospective candidates by the Labour Party and Conservative Party respectively.

This might have embarrassed some employers, but not Andersen Consulting's UK managing partner James Hall. "Although they have different political views, they share with all of us at Andersen Consulting a real commitment to the future of Britain," he says diplomatically.

Ms Hewitt made her name as general secretary of the National Council for Civil Liberties, a post she held for 10 years. This week she was selected to stand for Leicester West, already a Labour seat.

Ms Macleod, on the other hand, will have to overturn Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy's 6,000 majority in Ross, Skye & Inverness. "There's all to play for," says Ms Macleod, who went to school in the constituency.

So do the two candidates swap debating points over the photocopier at work? Ms Macleod says: "I don't actually bump into her. The first time I met her was for the photo this week."

The latest joke doing the rounds in Moscow: "There is no truth in the rumours that Yeltsin is ill. He has had several meetings with Brezhnev in the past week."

A sticky moment at Sainsbury's AGM. A shareholder gets up and asks why no directors were nominated in the latest Queen's Honours list. After all, he says, you have Sir Alistair Grant at Safeways and Sir Ian MacLaurin at Tesco - why no knights on the Sainsbury team?

The chairman, plain Mr David Sainsbury, rises to reply: "There are already two former chairmen of Sainsbury in the House of Lords, and a third might look ostentatious. But I'm trying hard, and I'll report back at future meetings."

Perhaps it was Mr Sainsbury's bankrolling of the SDP in the 1980s which keeps him a commoner.

You've had inflatable Sumo wrestlers. Now prepare for Human Skittles. American Airlines is holding its annual event at the Broadgate Centre in the City, and this year 48 City teams will battle it out dressed up in giant polystyrene skittle suits. While victims pose as skittles, the other team swings a giant ball at them.

British Airways, whose plan to team up with American Airlines is being hotly debated, is also involved. Virgin's Richard Branson has not been invited to field a team, however. An American spokesman explains: "They're not based in the City."

How will the great publicist hit back, I wonder? Human clay pigeon shooting, perhaps?

Talking of Mr Branson, the Virgin boss has just awarded air stewardess "wings" to Lisa Leeson, wife of Nick, the Barings trader now doing time in Singapore. Mrs Leeson, 27, joined Virgin in the normal way and completed a six-month training course.

The job guarantees her cheap flights to visit her husband at the notorious Changi prison, where he is serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence. Nick Leeson is allowed two 20-minute visits each month, but his wife could not afford the pounds 600 return air fares from her job as a waitress in a Maidstone tearoom.

You could soon be sipping gourmet coffees from Burundi, Brazil, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea and Uganda thanks to a $1m grant from the London- based International Coffee Organisation (ICO). ICO secretary Paul Dubois says people are already prepared to pay premium prices for recognised gourmet coffees like Jamaican Blue Mountain. These five countries could gain big overseas earnings if they can develop similar top brands.

This does not mean charging out and planting new crops, however. The secret is in identifying the best production techniques and areas to grow the beans, says Mr Dubois. For instance, a pound of unroasted Ecuador Arabica beans costs $1.10 on international markets, while Blue Mountain would set you back $15. Me, I'm off for a cuppa.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there