Column Eight: A very early bath

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The Independent Online
There was hardly a warm welcome yesterday at Aegis's extraordinary shareholders' meeting for Phillip Woosnam, the former West Ham midfield dynamo who is suing the media company for dollars 300m. Mr Woosnam, who now lives in Atlanta, came over specially with his wife, Ruth. They bought 330 shares and sat down to enjoy the show.

Barely had they sipped their coffee when a burly official ruled them offside because he could not find them on the shareholders' register. The Woosnams trotted off to call their broker, but in the 15 minutes they were out of the room Aegis rushed through the meeting and it was coffee and biscuit time.

According to Aegis it was all a terrible mistake. 'We never wanted to exclude them,' said the director of communication, Roger Parry. 'If they'd phoned in advance they would never have had any trouble.'

Now why didn't the Woosnams think of that?

The property arm of Forth Ports, the ports operator, is involved in several projects in Leith, on the Edinburgh waterside. The area is steadily going up-market, but comparisons with that prestige development east of London are, not surprisingly, resisted by Wilson Murray, the company's finance director. 'Aaaaagh,' he screeched yesterday after such a suggestion. 'Don't mention the London Docklands]]'

You will recall that 'Niceday', WH Smith's new line in office supplies, is named after a favourite American farewell. Now we hear of a revealing use of the phrase by Florida telephone operators to tourists caught in the recent hurricane.

The latter were trying to use credit cards to pay for calls home (bureaux de change being scarce in a disaster area). The operators insisted they needed special cards issued only to US residents. 'I am sorry we cannot accept cards from non-US citizens,' cooed the telephone system. 'Have the right change or - have a nice day.'

Or, in other words, get lost.

There's nothing like company loyalty. Overheard in the jewellery department of Next in Hampstead, north London. Shop assistant A: 'Oooooh, what a lovely watch you're wearing. That's never a Next watch is it?' Shop assistant B: 'Well yes, it is actually. Thank goodness I bought it before they started stamping 'Next' all over everything.'

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