City Diary: Lunchtime salute rattles the corridors of the SFA

It's not often that cannon fire interrupts a City lunch. But yesterday, Nick Durlacher of the SFA was just sitting down to sandwiches when the windows of his new Hays Galleria offices overlooking the Thames rattled with a multi-gun salute from the Tower of London, in honour of the Queen Mother's 96th birthday the day before.

It turns out that gun salutes from the Tower have to be on weekdays, since the The Honourable Artillery Company, which fires the cannon, are part-time volunteers, most of whom work in the City.This also means the guns are fired at 1pm rather than noon, to fit in with the gunners' lunches.

The SFA chief was just singing the praises of his new offices, which have "the best view in the City, overlooking HMS Belfast",when the first shot rang out.

The regulators moved in two months ago when Lloyds Bank vacated. Richard Farrant, SFA chief executive, who joined the briefing, added that Lloyds had "left some of their furniture behind - in fact we had lunch sitting on their chairs". Now that's what I call cost savings.

Sir William Purves, dour group chairman of mighty HSBC Holdings, took time off from answering how his bank made half-year profits of over pounds 2.3bn to parry a more personal query: "December 27th is an important date for you, isn't it?"

Sir Willie agreed. It's his 65th birthday. "Since it comes after Christmas my family don't notice it any more."

When asked when he will retire from HSBC, which he joined in 1954, he replied: "When the Board decides it is time for me to go, I will with great alacrity."

But who would dare?

John Makinson, finance director of Pearson, did well in his first time out presenting the group's accounts. Until, that is, towards the end, when one analyst asked where the back office cost allocations had disappeared to between 1995's figures and those presented yesterday.

Mr Makinson searched his pile of papers to no avail, until he was joined by one, then a whole mob of analysts, seeking the elusive answer. Finally, as the meeting descended into chaos, the financial controller was sent for, the figure found, and honour restored.

No doubt Mr Makinson will have learnt a valuable lesson - keep it simple.

Grand Prix ace Nigel Mansell is facing allegations of insider share dealing in a case pending in the High Courts.

According to the Lawyer magazine, Mr Mansell and his wife Rosanne are suing for the return of cash they allege they paid to a golfing friend, Anthony Collard, in a share deal. Their suit claims that Collard used the money as a deposit on a pounds 650,000 farm and to pay off debts. Collard has since committed suicide.

The case started at the High Court last month when Mr Mansell sought an asset-freezing order to protect the money he claims he is owed. At the hearing, however, Mark Howard QC opposed the freezing order, saying that Mr Mansell had been persuaded to hand over the money for shares in a New York hi-tech computer company which was about to be floated. The judge turned down the freezing order, and the allegations will be decided upon in the upcoming trial.

Most politicians in the US would give an arm and a leg to appear on the top-rated Larry King Live, a chat show discussing topics of the moment. And Richard Everitt, director of group strategy and compliance at BAA, must be the only man ever to have turned down an invitation to appear. Mr Everitt was in Washington giving evidence to the Senate committee investigating airport safety after the TWA disaster. According to BAA sources, he told the television people they must be joking - he was not prepared to be made a punch bag of by a seasoned operator like Mr King. If only more politicians were like Mr Everitt.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Sport
Yaya Sanogo celebrates scoring the opening goal with Arsenal's English midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
champions leagueLive: All the latest from the Emirates and Bulgaria, where Liverpool face Ludogorets
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manchester, £18k

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manch...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HRO - £70k+ ote

£35000 - £450000 per annum + £3k car, £70k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Do you want to...

Citifocus Ltd: Newly Qualified Accountants - Risk Mgmt

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious financial institution seeks to...

Citifocus Ltd: Operational Risk Analyst

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Experienced operational risk professional with ban...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire