Column Eight: Only 50 years out

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The Independent Online
THE RECENT upheavals at BP have proved too much for its beleaguered press office.

When the company announced its interim results last week one of its press officers added historical perspective by saying that it was the first time BP had cut its dividend since the First World War.

In fact one has to go back only to 1967 and the aftermath of the Six-Day War - a rather more localised conflict - to find a dividend cut.

A spokeswoman admitted the error yesterday, explaining that the confusion had arisen because the company had been trying to highlight its record of almost uninterrupted dividend growth since the Great War.

Apart, that is, from occasions during the 1930s, the Second World War and, er, in 1967. Oh, and we mustn't forget this year. . .

WHERE WOULD we be without the CBI? Yesterday it announced that research from its Manufacturing Advisory Group showed that 'developing new products and getting them into the market place quickly is the key to the succcess of top British firms'.

We'd never have guessed.

FROM SOMERSET House a press release to set the pulse racing. 'Some of your readers,' it begins, 'may be interested to learn of a promotion which has just been announced. Mr John Gant has been promoted to Grade 3 (Under Secretary in the Inland Revenue) from the end of the year.' We just knew you'd want to know that.

THE BARCELONA Olympics may be barely over, but already the competitors are on the starting blocks for the Games of 2000.

The race? A sprint to land the contract to build a stadium with which Manchester hopes to win the Millennial Games.

The runners qualifying yesterday are Britain's Balfour Beatty, Trafalgar House, and a hybrid runner from Amec and Stanhope. But the old enemy is also in there with the chance of a gold medal. Ste Auxiliaire d'Entreprises of France could upset national pride by passing the finishing line first.

Let's hope the British companies have a few Linford Christies up their sleeves.

LATEST NEWS of Britain's best bill-payer, Sir Edward du Cann, ex-chairman of Lonrho. Always one to spot a bargain, the former eminence grise of the Tory backbenches has bought a repossessed property for pounds 600,000. No prizes for guessing from whom Tremlett Hall Farm in Somerset was repossessed in the first place.