Column Eight: Carrot and stock week

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The Independent Online
Few noticed it, but yesterday was the start of National Share Ownership Week. Kleinwort Benson and others are desperately trying to beef up flagging interest in employee share schemes.

The pinstripes who commandeered the week for propaganda purposes seem oblivious to the fact that it is already spoken for - by the carrot-eaters. This is National Vegetarian Week.

The Vegetarian Society's spokeswoman, Carol Timperley, took a generous view of the clash: 'I suppose really it's a question of priorities and deciding which week is best for you.

'I believe this is also National Whistling Week,' she added helpfully.

The rush of former members of the Government to well-paid boardroom posts gathers pace. Michael Fallon, the ex-education minister, has taken up his first (but not, I gather, his last) company directorship.

The pro-hanging Mr Fallon - cool, clever and arrogant, according to colleagues - lost his Darlington seat at the last election. Quality Care Homes, the nursing homes business based in the same town, has snapped him up as a non-exec.

Duncan Bannatyne, the diplomatic QCH chief, insists he picked Mr Fallon only after approaching former MPs from both sides of the House.

Some people are spending. The armchair maker Parker Knoll reports selling no less than 250 of its three-piece suites, the luxury pounds 4,000 'Langham', in a single day.

Awelcome bit of news for Transmanche Link, the beleaguered Anglo-French group building the Channel tunnel. Eighty per cent over budget, embroiled in a pounds 1.3bn dust-up with Eurotunnel, and facing delays in opening, TML has won the Construction Achievement Award, sponsored by Construction News.

TML nobs from both sides of the Channel are to descend on London's Inn on the Park next week for the celebratory bash. I fear tunnel-boring is about to take on a whole new meaning.

Anew edition of the 1969 management classic The Peter Principle, which is out of print, is to be published later this month. Readers of the original, optimistically subtitled Why Things Always Go Wrong, may recall its central tenet that employees are promoted to the level at which they can't do the job.

Messrs Lamont and Leigh-Pemberton can rest easy, say the wags: the tome is not being updated with case studies.

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