Column Eight: Mercury stays sober

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The Independent Online
The abrupt departure from Cable & Wireless earlier this year of the lean and hungry Peter van Cuylenburg has not improved morale at its Mercury offshoot. Staff are still saddled with inhospitable working conditions courtesy of their erstwhile chief executive - they are not allowed to drink on or off the premises during office hours.

The prohibition is all the more galling in view of the laissez-faire attitude at C&W, under the benign eye of the well- dined Lord Young.

Not that Mr van Cuylenburg eschewed the grape himself. He was seen in the C&W boardroom with a glass of wine in his hand (a privilege of his seat on the main board).

Meanwhile, C&W staff were instructed not to buy drinks for their colleagues at Mercury when taking them out to lunch.

Further developments in the Swiss sex and chocolate saga. Barely two weeks after the board of Lindt & Sprungli was rent asunder by the chairman's soft centre for young Alexandra Gantenbein, the chocolate company has sprung another Sprungli. Luzius, the youngest son of the 72-year- old Rudolph Sprungli, is to join as a 'vice-director'.

And who says the Bank of England's finger is not firmly on the pulse?

'The economy is probably bumping along the bottom.' (August 1991).

'The picture is undeniably improving . . . I am confident that we are now coming out of recession.' (Speech by the Governor, September 1991 ).

'A modest but sustainable upturn may now have begun.' (November 1991).

'The recession may be coming to an end . . . prospects for recovery now appear better than for some time.' (May 1992).

And August 1992? 'Recovery remains elusive.'