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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living