Column Eight: Sailing on a shoestring

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The Independent Online
AS CHIEF Water Rat (all right, Commodore) of the Bank of England Sailing Club, Eddie George has the use of its yacht moored on the Hamble river, that glitzy Mecca of modern yachting.

But let not your mind wander to those expensive, one- man sorties enjoyed by the Duke of Edinburgh on the Royal Yacht Britannia. Membership of this yacht club does nothing to undermine the unglamorous suburban image of the Bank's Governor-elect.

The 200 members borrowed money from the Bank to buy the boat and cover running costs by paying charter fees to the club whenever they use it.

'Eddie pays like any other member. If he didn't, there'd be a hole in our finances,' confides a fellow salt.

Furthermore, the vessel is a mass-produced French job, described by the cognoscenti as the nautical equivalent of a Renault Espace - 'about as cheap as you can get for 10 people'.

A far cry from the upmarket Nicholson 55 (think Bentley Continental) run by the hard- up chaps down the road at the Lloyd's insurance market.

LORD HANSON was in ebullient form at yesterday's Hanson annual meeting. Witness this response to a hostile- ish question about his salary.

'Sadly it is slightly less than last year,' he beamed, '. . . but it's still a huge amount.' For the record pounds 1.35m, down from pounds 1.38m.

He also told a joke against his advancing age. He visited an old folks' home in Huddersfield. 'Do you know who I am?' he asked an elderly gent.

'No,' came the reply. 'But if you ask that lady at the desk, she'll tell you.'

THE MOST curious aspect of the Hanson jamboree was the spectacle of Hugh Jenkins, chief executive of Prudential Portfolio Managers, appearing stage-left to deliver a eulogy on the company despite its pedestrian stock market rating.

We thought that a function of powerful institutional investors was keeping company management on its toes, not flattering corporate egos.

THE CIVIL Aviation Authority's newest board member is the appropriately named Raymond Birdseye, former head of Barclays Bank corporate banking in the US.