Column Eight: Diana's Dateline prince

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The Independent Online
Saturday's Daily Star yelled: 'We find the perfect partner to perk up the poor Princess', having had the bright idea of feeding Diana's details into the Dateline computer in search of her ideal match.

Colleagues at Shandwick, the City public relations firm, admit to being slightly bemused last Friday afternoon when a photographer and reporter duly thundered round to interview 'Scots-born bachelor Chris Matthews, 37,' a managing director of the company, whose computer entry it was that came churning out.

'He's a well-heeled high-flyer with a passion for beautiful blondes . . . who ironically is a hunkier version of Di's close pal and confidante James Gilbey,' the paper divulged.

'He's never 5ft 10 1/2 ins tall,' said one (male) associate, dismissively. 'And - hunky??' Obviously jealous.

THINGS may be bleak at the Lloyd's of London insurance market, but the authorities retain a sense of humour. Appointed to the market's new board for business development is none other than the chairman of Rentokil, the pest-executioner for everyone, from the Royal Family up, beset by assorted low-life.

SHARES in Harley-Davidson dropped yesterday as the company warned of a dollars 5.5m charge against fourth quarter earnings in 1992.

The source of the charge? The voluntary recall of 1989- 1992 Softail model family motorcycles because some may suffer a condition that 'could result in an internal short-circuit of the starter relay,' according to the company.

'Heat may be generated in some circumstances, causing the relay and possibly other parts to burn.' The essential thrust of the message is: not much fun if you're astride at the time.

PRUDENT potential investors in Harland Simon who (before the company went bust in October) requested more information about its performance, received the latest report and accounts, with a letter from the group company secretary.

'As you will see, the group has continued to perform well during the period covered by these accounts' the letter enthused. But turn to the chairman's statement and read: 'The year . . . proved to be an exceptionally difficult one for the group.' How very true. In the year ended 31 March, there was a pre-tax loss of pounds 6.3m against profits of pounds 9.9m.

If results like those were taken as a measure of 'performing well', it's amazing the company lasted as long as it did.