City Diary: Franglais invades sacred precincts of the Bank

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Zut alors! There is one thing that the French hate even more than hearing English people trying to speak French, and that is French people speaking the hated Franglais.

Le weekend and le hamburger are just two examples of the pernicious impact English has had on the French population, and barely a month goes by without yet another official attempt to stem the tide.

With this in mind, Howard Davies, deputy governor of the Bank of England, was astonished to hear a senior French banker refer during a discussion on supervision to "les banques 'too-big-to-fail'.'' The senior female executive of the Banque de France who used this phrase was at the Bank of England to discuss new ways to encourage international co-operation following crashes like the Baring debacle.

She was referring to the French equivalent of the high street banks which are simply too big and important to be allowed to fail. Mr Davies was shocked to hear a member of France's inner establishment using such Franglais.

Even more shocking to outsiders, perhaps, is that the entire discussion in Threadneedle Street was being conducted in French in the first place. Whatever would Norman Tebbit say?

John Moores, eldest son of the late founder of the Liverpool pools dynasty, is retiring from the Littlewoods Organisation at the grand old age of 67, having been with the family firm for 50 years.

He will now be able to devote more time to breeding Aberdeen Angus cattle on Merseyside, one of his favourite hobbies. Mr Moores is also Chancellor of the John Moores University in Liverpool.

Mr Moores was one of the "big three" on the family-dominated management board of Littlewoods, the other two being his sister, Lady Grantchester, and James Suenson-Taylor. Fans of dynasties should not worry, however.

There are plenty more Moores in the company ready to take over if need be.

Littlewoods was keen to stress that there was no hint of family wrangling with the new chairman of Littlewoods, James Ross, who came in from Cable & Wireless. Mr Moores "just decided this was the time to go", said the company.

David Jefferies, chairman of the National Grid and a leading privatisation fat cat, is about to spend two days with 30 lucky private shareholders, showing them the inner workings of the company.

Mr Jefferies, who made well over a million from the privatisation from his salary and share options, is launching a National Grid Networking Programme in December.

Thirty investors will be chosen by ballot to visit key company sites, including the control centre at Wokingham, Berkshire, which critics say bears a striking resemblance to "an over-sized Happy Eater".

They will also visit the telecommunications subsidiary Energis and experience the joys of pylon maintenance. At the end of the tour, the 30 will "be asked to feed back their experiences and views to the National Grid Board". I can't wait to see the section on executive pay.

Fans of John Le Carre will have a field day today when a former MI6 agent appears at an industrial tribunal in Croydon claiming unfair dismissal. A solicitor from the human rights group Liberty, John Wadham, is representing the un-named former spook, who has also put in a claim to the European Court of Human rights.

At the moment the court just has to decide whether the ex-agent can appear in court at all. Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has just issued a certificate banning the former agent from going to the tribunal. Just don't go near anyone carrying pointy umbrellas.

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