Column Eight: Big Blue thinks Pink

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The Independent Online
THE COMPUTER giant IBM, or at least a part of it, is to ditch the Big Blue image in favour of the Pink Panther.

The crisis-hit company has bought the European rights to the lugubrious cartoon character. The lanky creature will be used to spearhead the new PC division due to be spun off by the giant. The Pink look is being launched, appropriately enough, in France. Inspector Clouseau would approve.

THE AVERAGE FT reader wastes nearly twice as much money on unnecessary tax payments as the average Independent reader - pounds 842 as opposed to pounds 439 a year.

This startling claim comes by courtesy of The Wasted Tax Encyclopaedia, published by Mintel yesterday as part of a publicity drive by the UK's 4,000 independent financial advisers. It says 31 million Britons will this year pay up to pounds 8bn in unnecessary taxation - an average of pounds 261 each.

This pounds 8bn represents pounds 253.67 a second, would buy 4.8 billion Big Macs, and is greater than the GNP of Iceland, Kenya and Jordan.

JOHN WELLESLEY, son of the present Duke of Wellington, is a director of Hayward & Co, a Lloyd's broker. According to sources, a white-socked youth working at Hayward recently answered a call from the duke. After asking who was calling, the youth called out: 'John, it's your local.'

DAVID RAMSDEN, B&Q's retail services controller, supplied the crocuses for the tables at the Conservative Winter Ball (a fund-raising event) on Monday night. Sadly, they failed to open. But luckily John Major leapt in with a joke about green shoots at the expense of the Chancellor, who was also there.

THAT ALMA mater of many a supermarket manager, the Gateway Academy of Food Retailing, is to close in April.

Despite its preposterous name, the centre, based in a large country house near Bristol, made a brave stab at inculcating higher standards.

By a strange coincidence it was set up two years ago by Al Fasola, the American who this week snapped up the Herman's sporting goods chain from Gateway's debt-ridden parent, Isosceles.

THE SOCIETY of Names, set up to help Lloyd's members, writes in its newsletter: 'The appointment of Brian Garraway, past finance director of BAT, as head of regulation, is a sound move.

'Said to be so tough he makes Vlad the Impaler look like a fairy, he will give confidence to the market.'