Column Eight: Minister gets it in the neck

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The Independent Online
John MacGregor, the conjuror and Magic Circle member who doubles as Secretary of State for Transport, looked in dire need of some escapological skills yesterday, as he opened Virgin Atlantic's 'Clubhouse' executive lounge at Heathrow airport.

Embarrassment number one was the arrival of a Virgin masseuse, who proceeded to give the cabinet minister what can only be described as a neck job.

This was to persuade the Government to be more favourable to Virgin, a grinning Richard Branson explained. Mr MacGregor turned a charming pink and looked as if he'd prefer to be elsewhere.

Later he remarked that he always associated clubhouses with golf, whereupon Mr Branson revealed that the original plan had been to call the lounge the Mile High Club.

Puce to the hair roots, apparently.

The lonesome workers of Ogilvy & Mather and the Daily Telegraph at last have some new neighbours. Striding over the windswept wastelands of Canary Wharf yesterday came 600 Texaco staff, newly arrived from bijou Knightsbridge. Greeting the intrepid oil workers was Nigel Mansell's new racing car, though not Nigel Mansell.

According to one Texaco insider, the move east has been boringly free of teething problems, except for the bafflingly advanced phones.

Charles Hall, the food manufacturing analyst at Cazenove, stockbrokers to Her Majesty, arrived back at work yesterday afternoon clutching a jeroboam of bubbly. Throughout last year Champagne Louis Roederer invited patrons of City wine bars to forecast the closing level of the FT-SE 100 share index at the end of 1992. The prophetic Mr Hall won, coming within 0.6 of the 2,846.5 close.

His tip for the Footsie at the end of this year: 3,110. You read it here first.

Fund managers have a new policeman. Their watchdog Imro, badly tarnished by the Maxwell scandal, announced Phillip Thorpe as successor to the retiring chief executive John Morgan. Mr Thorpe's departure from the Securities and Futures Authority leaves it seeking a deputy chief executive as well as a chief executive.

Mr Thorpe, a 38-year-old Kiwi barrister, spent two years as a prosecutor on the Pacific island of Nauru, where the 8,000 inhabitants kept him surprisingly busy: 'I worked on cases of grievous bodily harm, rape and murder - the perfect preparation for a regulator,' he insists.

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