Column Eight: Painting over an open sore

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The Independent Online
THAMES TV failed to win the Channel 5 franchise yesterday and loses its weekday franchise to Carlton Communications at the end of the year. But it is not prepared to lie down and die yet. When Carlton plastered its new advertising campaign across two giant billboards opposite Thames's Euston Road headquarters, the chief executive, Richard Dunn, was not amused. He reckoned Carlton was rubbing salt into the wounds of those about to lose their jobs. Carlton took the point. The posters went up on Monday, but were tactfully painted over by Thursday.

NIGEL Whittaker, of Kingfisher and the CBI, could have had a very different career.

While a student at Cambridge, he landed a holiday job at Harrods - plucking turkeys in the basement. When a Harrods Santa had to go for imbibing a little too much Christmas spirit, the turkey pluckers were asked if any of them had experience working with children. The intrepid Mr Whittaker decided anything was better than spending four weeks with a hand up a turkey's bottom and he volunteered. The beard, apparently, was very prickly.

SCOTTISH Life has sent a three-page questionnaire to 'opinion formers and decision makers' asking what they think of actuaries. The respondent must choose the three most apt adjectives from a list that includes 'creative, diverse, esoteric, fun and interesting'. Fortunately Scottish Life provides space at the end of the list for those wanting to supply their own description. 'Zzzzzzzz' perhaps?

CHARTERHOUSE Tilney's annual competition for stock picking produced a mild embarrassment this year. The winner was Giles Warman, a Charterhouse Tilney director. Of course he could not accept the magnum of champagne and graciously handed it over to William Underwood of Majedie Investment Trust. Mr Warman's winners (one rising and one falling stock) were Bluebird Toys, up a breathtaking 271 per cent, and Fisons, down a dismal 36 per cent.

BRITISH punters have consistently been bears of Wall Street, according to the City bookie IG Index, which takes bets on the future direction of the Dow Jones index. Thursday this week was significant, therefore, because for the first time in four years more people were betting on a rise in Wall Street than a fall.

Surely a warning sign that US shares are getting dangerously overheated?