Column Eight: Career switch for Morse

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The Independent Online
Sir Jeremy Morse retires next month after 15 years as chairman of Lloyds Bank. The question is, after having built the most profitable clearing bank in the UK, what next?

Sources inside Lloyds say Sir Jeremy wants to 'get as far away from banking as possible.' As warden of Winchester College and chancellor of Bristol University, he will not be idle. And sources say he has just bought himself a word processor, something he has never owned before, despite his wife having used one for some time. 'He's going to do an Inspector Morse in reverse and start writing detective stories,' one Lloyds insider speculated yesterday. We await 'Dead men don't go overdrawn' with interest.

Showing signs of flagging inspiration, Jacques Vert, the ladieswear designer, bids lamely to join the dictionary of politically correct expressions. After 'vertically challenged' and 'follically disadvantaged' comes JV's title for its more problematical range: 'Jacques Vert Plus - a collection for the fuller figured lady.'

From the Department of Understatement concerning the Braer oil spill: 'The disaster will have profound effects on the economic well-being of many Shetlanders, particularly among fish farmers, fishermen and crofters.' Courtesy of Balcombe Group plc, a claims manager that has joined with Levy & McRae, the Glasgow solicitors, to sue on behalf of Shetland islanders.

The departure of the government spending supremo Nick Monck from the Treasury - celebrated yesterday evening in the Treasury's hippest nightspot, Room 29 - has triggered a game of musical chairs in Whitehall's most powerful department.

Among the winners is 47- year-old Anthea Case, who takes charge of the Budget next week. She is now the second most powerful woman in the Treasury (after the deputy secretary, Rachel Lomax) and is no doubt aware of the comment made recently by another senior female in that institution: 'Everyone in the Treasury is allowed one eccentricity - and if you are a woman, that is it.'

Now we know just how bad things are in Bordeaux, where the claret market has gone through the floor. A US speculator was bemoaning his losses on a dollars 500,000 investment to Anthony Barton, owner of two of Bordeaux's finest estates, Leoville and Langoa-Barton. 'Increase the investment' says Barton. Shock, horror, long pause. 'Pay dollars 10 for a corkscrew.'