CITY DIARY: True love and bubbly at a special Virgin price

A Virgin long-haul crew quakes in its boots knowing that the bearded one will shortly have their guts for garters. There has been the most appalling mid-air blunder and Richard Branson is about to go ballistic.

What was surely a rare chance to impress turned into a public relations disaster when Nick Bernheim, a Los Angeles screenwriter, boarded Virgin's Dallas to London flight with his girlfriend, Elizabeth Utz. Doubtless impressed by the legroom ("if your feet touch the seat in front you're on the wrong plane'') Mr Bernheim was overcome with a strong desire to propose marriage.

Mrs Elizabeth Bernheim (screenwriters know how to woo) takes up the tale. "It was kinda nice,'' she says. "It is my first time to Europe and I was watching cartoons or something when Nicky suddenly proposed. I started crying, I guess, and the women next to us heard it all and told the steward.''

So far, so good. The captain duly relayed the engagement over the cabin radio and there followed a thunderous ovation throughout the fuselage. A Virgin steward was dispatched to the happy couple with half a bottle of champagne. The moment was complete. Well, that is until the steward reappeared with a bill for pounds 4.95 and presented it to the startled woman in the next seat. "We were just so embarrassed,'' explains Mrs Bernheim from her honeymoon suite in Paris. Neither would the romantic accept reimbursement.

A stiff letter is on its way to the master balloonist.

Still, the Virgin incident could pale into insignificance compared with the expected passenger revolt at KLM. Royal Dutch Airlines introduces a smoking ban on all its European flights on 29 October. According to Bureau Voorlichting Tabak, a not-entirely-unbiased tobacco lobby, this will result in a quarter of all Dutch passengers switching to another airline. KLM is unbowed, claiming that its non-smoking policy will attract more passengers than it loses. Probably from Virgin.

Tomorrow sees the launch of the keenly awaited Corporate Strategies of the Top 100 UK Companies of the Future. Published by McGraw Hill, the seminal work has been compiled by the Corporate Research Foundation, working in cahoots with a platoon of Financial Times hacks. It was due out in April.

The surprise among the predictable entries - Marks & Spencer, British Airways, Glaxo Wellcome and Rentokil - is Davies Arnold Cooper, the law firm best known for working with victims of the Piper Alpha disaster, the Hillsborough tragedy and the Bradford football stadium fire. Led by the never knowingly undersold David Mackintosh (he of the Oxford Union debates et al.) the firm now boasts annual fee income of pounds 30m.

The burning question is why the delay in publication? Some have suggested that it was to allow further research on Pearson. Unhappily the FT owner is still not included.

Seen in the window of the Nextep employment agency in London's Coopers Row:

"Russian-speaking PA to MDir of Russian Oil company, SW1 - pounds 16K. Free bottle of vodka to 1st applicant to walk thru the door.''

The casting of the film of the Barings disaster is proving to be trickier than at first thought. Our sources in the Frankfurt slammer report that Nick Leeson, architect of the pounds 1bn brouhaha, is not happy at the suggestion of Hugh Grant for the lead. For that matter he is not wild about Miranda Richardson in the supporting role of his beloved wife, claiming that she is too old.

The actor Mr Leeson thinks will best portray him is Nick Berry, the saturnine former Eastenders star. As for the role of Ms Leeson, we are happy to screen hopefuls for a fee.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • 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

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Sales Team Leader - Wakefield, West Yorkshire

£21000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged b...

Ashdown Group: Head of Client Services - City of London, Old Street

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders