Column Eight: Testing times for directors

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Directors of Hill Samuel - there are, remember, more than 100 of them - are undergoing a gruelling programme of psychometric tests lasting four hours ('waste of time and money' is the verdict of one victim). The tests apparently include the kind of sums beloved of the old 11-plus maths exam, as well as comprehension questions. There is also a tricky exercise that involves matching shapes, geared at testing powers of creativity and imagination. This has proved the downfall of many.

More of a trap for one director was a multiple choice question designed to reveal character traits. This, to the best of his recollection, asked whether he preferred beating his wife or looking at pretty pictures in a museum. He admitted having some difficulty answering.

Now the Chancellor has returned from Washington, he will no doubt be ordering his spring bulbs from the HM Treasury and Cabinet Office Gardening Club. The mandarins do not take their horticulture lightly, as Phil Weber, Joint Trading Secretary (Roses) in room 56/2 of the Cabinet Office can confirm.

Given Mr Lamont's craven submission to the currency markets - and his obvious relief at leaving the ERM - he may well order a box of 'Yellow Cheerfulness', a daffodil offered in the latest catalogue. He probably won't go for a crocus called Joan of Arc. Yet.

Currency dealers who are doing so splendidly out of the sterling crisis have fought off any suggestion that they resemble children playing with Monopoly money. But just wait until they take part in the City Monopoly Challenge - a fund-raising effort for Children With Leukaemia which is being held at the Honourable Artillery Company on 19 November. Firms that have taken up the challenge include Kleinwort Benson, Schroders, Coopers & Lybrand, NatWest and Barclays.

The speculators could use the new European Monopoly, where the currency is the ecu, the dice bear the 12 stars of the EC flag and only three London streets make it on to the board. On the other hand, that wouldn't do. A single currency, after all, means less business for the traders.

Readers of Estates Gazette who frequent a certain newsagent in the Shepherd's Market area of Mayfair may have experienced difficulty obtaining their regular copy. We suggest they look to the top shelf, where they will discover it lurking beside Fiesta.

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