Column Eight: Academic question for Davies

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Howard Davies, twinkly-eyed head of the CBI, made a memorable appearance on BBC Question Time last month. On the subject of the monarchy, he prefaced his trenchant views with the words, 'If I were a queen . . . er, I mean, if I were the Queen . . . .'

His performance evidently delighted the academics at Sheffield Polytechnic, which is busy upgrading to university status. He is, we understand, being considered as chancellor of the tyro uni.

Whether Mr Davies would accept the title is moot. As head of the employers' organisation, he may not altogether approve of the poly's staff: they've been on strike for the past two days.

A puff of white smoke appears above the Square Mile, where the great and the good elected a new Lord Mayor of London yesterday. Francis McWilliams, an international arbitrator, gets to wear the fancy robes and ceremonial chain (and to travel overseas with the rank of cabinet minister).

He beat three other contenders, including Paul Newall of the American bank Shearson Lehman, and Christopher Walford, a senior partner at the lawyers Allen & Overy. He becomes the 665th mayor on 13 November.

According to the Corporation of London blurb, Mr McWilliams, 66, spent 23 years in Malaysia where, as a civil engineer, he created the town of Petaling Jaya.

Petaling Jaya? 'It's rather like Welwyn Garden City,' explains our man at Guildhall.

Battered clearing bankers are so fed up with their lousy reputation with the public, politicians and media that they are looking for a talented image-merchant to do something about it.

Lord Inchyra, secretary-general of the British Bankers' Association, has instructed headhunters to find a suitable candidate for the new post of director of external affairs.

About pounds 50,000 a year and a cheap mortgage await the miracle worker, we hear.

Kobe Steel makes its debut on the London stock market this morning. Sponsors Kleinwort Benson are praying the Japanese company receives gentler treatment from British investors than from British rugby players. Fifteen cleat-booted Kobe steelworkers were soundly thrashed 19- 46 yesterday by the Oxford University team, which is on a tour of Japan.