City Diary: The inflated cost of the the millennium party

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The Independent Online
A forward-thinking hotel in Country Durham is taking a punt on inflation rising steeply over the next few years. The Redworth Hotel and Country Club near Darlington has started selling "end of the millennium" party tickets for 31 December 1999.

The price: for two people for two nights and plenty of entertainment thrown in is, appropriately, pounds 999.99. The current price is pounds 600. Surely they are not banking on inflation rising at more than 50 per cent over the next three and a bit years?

"We've taken inflation into account but the price also includes lots of entertainment, a jazz band and a crystal gift to commemorate the event, which are not included in our usual price."

Argos may be storming ahead on the high street but it is still struggling to make its mark on the Internet. The catalogue retailer has sold just 35 items via the World Wide Web in 18 months of trying. At an average price tag of pounds 15, that means total cyber-sales of just pounds 500 against costs that must run into tens of thousands. Chief executive Mike Smith, who is never most the most garrulous of people, has yet to be convinced that the whole Internet-malarkey is all what it's cracked up to be. He describes progress as "slow".

Ever optimistic, the London Docklands Development Corporation is attempting to turn a barren stretch of land into a cultural centre. Trinity Buoy Wharf, currently home to a few sheds and a warehouse, is being "re-positioned" in property developer speak as a "cultural quarter".

The idea is to transform the wharf by attracting artists, crafts people and other trendies. A tricky assignment for the marketing men, this one. Though the buildings on site do include London's only lighthouse, other features listed include "toilet block" and "redundant boiler house". The Left Bank it is not.

Astrologically inclined investors who think Wall Street rises if Saturn is in its element may find support for their theories in a new book from former trader Henry Weingarten. Investing by the Stars: using Astrology in the Financial Markets may be a load of old cobblers to committed chartists but Weingarten is convinced it can work.

"Astrological techniques can help traders improve their performance by up to 5 per cent. If you can guarantee that, they eventually won't care how you achieve it." So there we are, on a full moon, sell ICI.

A man claimed for 17 appendix operations on his insurance while a woman claimed for the loss of an eye on five separate occasions. These are just some of the more ambitious bogus insurance claims filed by policyholders according to the Association of British Insurers.

The association claims that, following a crack-down, all sorts of dodgy claims have been unearthed. One woman claimed pounds 2,000 for treatment following a heart attack. However, she listed that her treatment had taken place in a village that no longer existed after it had been submerged following the building of a dam five years earlier.

As the name Thorn EMI is consigned to the dusty filing cabinet of corporate history following the de-merger, along comes a book to commemorate its 100 year past. From Making to Music: the History of Thorn EMI, will be published next week, penned by SA "Juggy" Pandit. "Juggy" (an abbreviation of his lengthy Indian name) worked for Thorn for 17 years and so knows his stuff. Thorn says the book is a no-holds-barred account, including more colourful moments such as the failed bid for BAe, the disastrous move into micro-chip manufacturing and the sale of EMI's film and cinema interests to Alan Bond in 1985. "It's not just a eulogy to the company or the chairman [Sir Colin Southgate, pictured]. It's a faithful account. It's for people who are interested in British industry and how they screwed it up."