Column Eight: Wet Tory unplugs a laugh

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The Independent Online
It is always refreshing to find a company chairman prepared to tell a joke against himself, so take a bow Sir Matthew Goodwin, ex-treasurer to the Scottish Tories and chairman of Hewden Stuart, the plant hire group.

Faced with a leaky garden hose, Sir Matthew called in his engineers for a spot of maintenance, knowing his company's rapid response record.

When the serviced hose was connected it proved to be holed in two places: Sir Matthew reports that he was standing inadvisably close and was drenched. 'Cor,' said an engineer. 'And you're the chairman. Imagine what service we give our customers.'

Excitement at Westminster County Court in the trial of the Roger Seelig v Touchstone Group case. Owen Williams, the former chairman of Touchstone, was asked by the judge, Mr Justice Martin, who was on the board when the former Morgan Grenfell director was retained by the group.

'Myself, the finance director and Mr Thatcher,' Williams responded.

'Thatcher, not the Mr Thatcher?' blurted Mr Justice Martin.

'Sadly, no,' Williams replied, dolefully.

Accountants suffering from stress, fatigue and irritation need go no further than The Accountants and Financial Directors Exhibition at the Barbican this week.

There they will find the Aqua-Wall, an indoor waterfall on offer from AEL Furniture. It is claimed that this 'aesthetic work of water art' reduces air pollution and static electricity and restores air humidity.

But 'the relaxing effect of the sound of trickling water' may have some unfortunate side effects, judging by the absence of the AEL salesmen from the display stand.

'Probably in the gents,' a nearby exhibitor advised helpfully. 'It's had us wanting to pee all afternoon.'

The bid to popularise football in the United States by awarding them the next World Cup seems to be working. But purists beware. Bill Hughes, chairman of Scottish company Grampian Holdings, says US sales of its girls' football boots are running almost as high as those for the boys.

In the supposedly non- existent world of mergers and acquisitions, one man being kept busy is Simon Keswick, of Jardine Matheson. Not only is he on the board of Hanson, which has swooped on Ranks Hovis McDougall, but he's also involved with Hongkong Land's partial offer for Trafalgar House

. . .er, that's it.