Column Eight: A most exciting poll . . .

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Are accountants really boring? Challoner James, accountancy recruitment consultants, has just polled 150 random specimens to dispel the vicious rumour. As the results show, it didn't work.

Asked who they would like to spend the night with, the predictable choices were Luke Perry (from Beverley Hills 90210) and Kim Basinger - the worrying one, Lamb Chop.

Milton Keynes came in equal first with Hampstead as the favourite place to live. And 28 per cent said they would most like a BMW (zzz) although, with zany 'wit' a combine harvester was also suggested.

Poignantly, when asked what they would like to be were they not accountants, the majority went misty-eyed at the prospect of being one of those enviable glamour pusses, a bond dealer.

'Much progress has been made,' the survey concludes hopefully. But: 'There is still a long way to go.'

Touche Ross has just done something imaginative. A new tulip bulb has been commissioned in celebration of the name change of its Dutch sister company, now Deloitte & Touche. The firm promises a bloom in the 'red corporate colour of the international firm.' Not a marbled tulip. Too interesting.

Continuing with our occasional series of vocationally appropriate names: the personnel listed in Northumbrian Water's New Corporate handbook include Chris Spray, Pamela Waters, John Pool and Fred Fountain. The company also discloses that a woman currently counting the ducks on its sewage works and reservoirs (why, we know not) is called Dr Anne Starling.

And there's more . . . the leaders of the rebel shareholders at Harmony Leisure, the pubs and hotels group, are Mr Martyr and Mr Lynch.

There has been movement this week at the top of Hill Samuel, the loss-making merchant banking arm of TSB. In a move not considered a promotion, Philip Beavan is no longer using his investment judgement as managing director of Hill Samuel Investment Management. Instead, he has been installed as managing director of Quant Products, the black box, computer-reliant systems for running pension funds and the like.

The move has seemed inevitable ever since Paul Sharman came over from Target/TSB to run investments as a combined group, and Richard Bernays arrived from Mercury as chief executive.

But all the shuffling, which was calculated to bring Hill Samuel closer into TSB's fold, could be superfluous. Hill Samuel is up for sale.

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