Column Eight: Sudden tea and sympathy

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The Independent Online
Brenda and Eddy Weatherill got a shock yesterday when they were invited to tea with John Major at his home in Huntingdon that very afternoon. Ages ago, as former owners of a small business that went bust, the couple asked to meet their constituency MP to complain about bad treatment by the banks.

Coincidentally, the Weatherills are founders of the increasingly vocal Bank Action Group, which has recently attracted press attention and sympathy. Suddenly, by magic, up pops an invitation. As we go to print, they're still eating the scones. Stay tuned for Norma's recipe next week.

This Week's Dinners (Part I): Thursday saw the annual thrash hosted by the Investor Relations Society at the Waldorf. Restless rustling began to issue from guests as Sir Sydney Lipworth, chairman of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, talked them through at least 50 years of government-to-industry attitudes.

'Pounds 500 for the first streaker', implored a handwritten card circulating tables as Sir Sydney cruised effortlessly past the 25-minute mark.

Things can get a bit tricky for Arthur, who runs the pub on wheels that Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries dispatches to London to slake the thirst of analysts and journalists at results briefings.

Yesterday, humidity at the offices of the brewer's public relations company was causing concern. The coolest place to store the barrels overnight was identified as the ladies' loo. Bringing new meaning to 'watering down the beer'.

Nigel Lawson, a late starter, could yet come up on the rails for the top job at the Bank of England. Ladbrokes yesterday opened a book at odds of 20-1. Our tenner for a long-term bet is on Sir Christopher Hogg, whose odds shortened from 16-1 to 8-1 after we tipped him earlier in the week.

This Week's Dinners (Part II): The American oil giant Arco was 'at home' at Claridge's on Wednesday night where, among ambassadors, politicians and peers, were two men closely involved with BP, our very own oil giant. In the melee, it would be interesting to know how close (or otherwise) Robert Horton and David Simon were seated.

Mr Horton, of course, was chairman and chief executive at BP until he was knifed in June. The man he originally beat for the jobs was . . . David Simon. How fortunes change. For Mr Simon has now replaced Mr Horton.