City Diary: Challenge Angela: no leaping around, just regulatory structure

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The Independent Online
You've had Challenge Anneka. Now prepare for "Challenge Angela", starring the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Angela Knight MP.

At the launch of the Society of Financial Advisers' new professional qualifications yesterday, Ms Knight invited the financial services industry to "Challenge Angela" by either suggesting improvements to the regulatory structure or sharpening up their act.

As if the prospect of the MP leaping around in sky-blue dungarees was not enough, Ms Knight was asked where more effort should be made to educate the public about money management while they are at school.

She replied that this was a difficult area as the public viewed financial services in a different way to more tangible goods - many of them "checked their brains in at the door when discussing financial matters".

If someone knocks at your door with one trouser leg rolled up and gives you a funny handshake, don't panic.

Channel Five Broadcasting is busily recruiting an army of retuners - technicians who will go into the nation's homes and retune television sets to receive the new terrestrial station. Apparently, a significant number of retuners hired so far, especially as supervisors, have been ex-policemen and Freemasons.

The former plods know their way around their local areas and can vet new tuners, sifting reliable people from bad. The same apparently goes for the Masons.

A London-based spokesman for the Masons is bemused: "It's the first I've heard of it. How absolutely baffling."

A Channel Five spokeswoman confirms that they have hired two policemen so far - but has not heard of any Masons. Steady with that trouser leg, son.

Westminster Health Care had a drinks party last night at its Leicester Square office - but it was not the victory celebration it had expected.

Having suffered defeat in its hostile bid for Goldsborough Healthcare, Westminster and its advisers from Barings and Cazenove had to content themselves with a farewell party for the company's finance director, Kent Phippen, who is returning to the US.

The triumphant Goldsborough had its own victory knees-up at the Savoy the night before. One Shandwick PR man working for Goldsborough was so pleased he phoned Westminster's spin doctors, Financial Dynamics, to preen himself, much to the disgust of FD. "It was intruding on private grief," said one FD operative.

It's an ill wind and all that. As the City braced itself yesterday for another one-day Tube strike, young ladies at underground stations were handing out leaflets with a big black heading: "Notice of Cancellation July 1996."

Thinking this must be news about the strike, most commuters accepted the leaflets. Then they read on: "Legal & General announce that initial charges on all their unit trusts have ceased to exist. L&G apologise to the competition for the inconvenience caused." Hilarious.

Even funnier - ads have gone up inside Tube stations for "customer relations staff". What a time to be starting.