City Diary; The Lord Mayor drops a Mansion House clanger

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The Independent Online
Collette Bowe, head of the Personal Investment Authority, was enjoying the Lord Mayor's speech at the Mansion House the other night. Until, that is, the Lord Mayor, John Chalstrey, started talking about the City's continuing ability to attract overseas investment and business. Listing a series of the City's attractions, the Lord Mayor concluded with "the lightness of its regulatory touch".

This induced a sharp intake of breath from Ms Bowe, followed by a grimace and a forced smile. Perhaps the Lord Mayor should bear in mind that, on such occasions, he is addressing the gamekeepers as well as the poachers.

The Corporation of London is certainly busy. A letter reaches us saying: "The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium throws open its doors for its third annual open day next month." Over 6,000 grave-spotters attended last year's event, which included tours of Europe's largest cemetery at Manor Park, near Wanstead. Tour guides will be on hand to point out the final resting place of Jack the Ripper's first two victims. A charming way to spend a summer's day.

Congratulations to Adrian Luckham, poached from Unilever to become the new UK managing director of Douwe Egberts, the Dutch coffee producer. Adrian sees the company's key task as "helping retailers to drive roast and ground sector growth, consolidate existing distribution and increase shelf offtake, via a highly creative marketing strategy carried out by a tight entrepreneurial team." I think he means sell more coffee.

Sir Bob Reid, the chairman of London Electricity and a former boss of British Rail, is in high dudgeon over the Labour Party's threatened windfall tax on the profits of utilities.

To illustrate his ire, Sir Bob describes a meeting between Michael Faraday, the great Victorian scientist, and Gladstone, the then Prime Minister.

Faraday explains his exciting discoveries involving electricity, at which point Gladstone asks: "Yes, but what use is it?"

To which the eminent scientist answers: "I don't know, Prime Minister,what use it is - but I'm sure you'll find a way of taxing it."

Andrew Young, chairman of the General Insurance Council, and managing director of NFU Mutual, boasted at a council meeting that his company could make a killing at the bookies by correctly naming the Scotland line- up for Saturday's England match.

Scotland has been using NFU's sports ground near Stratford for its training base during the Euro 96 tournament, and NFU staff know exactly who is in and who is out. But after much soul-searching, says Mr Young, NFU decided to keep this knowledge to itself.

Meanwhile the company's actuaries have been analysing Scotland matches going back to 1924 and concluded that the score on Saturday will be 1- 1. As a patriotic Scot Mr Young is convinced the Sassenachs will be defeated. "I'm telling the actuaries that they've got it wrong," he told the meeting. A voice rang out from the back: "But don't actuaries always forecast the result of the game after it's finished?"

And if you need a pint: Discovery Inns, the pub operating group, has bought the Fisherman's Cot at Bickleigh in Devon for pounds 1.5m. The pub, on the banks of the River Exe by Bickleigh Bridge, is reputed to have been the location that inspired Paul Simon to write Bridge Over Troubled Water.