Column Eight: Wireman pounds the floor

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The Independent Online
It wasn't just the currency markets that were nervous yesterday afternoon. The City's jitters appeared to spread to the trapeze artiste who was going through his contortions for the lunchtime crowds in the Broadgate arena.

If the exhausted currency traders looking on felt they had been on a roller-coaster, it was but a stroll in the park compared to the experience of the garishly clad acrobat.

A slip, and the poor fellow was praying for central intervention from a higher authority. None came as he described a terminal parabola faster than the sinking pound/dollar* (*delete according to personal circumstances).

There was an immediate hike in the interest rate.

To Lloyd's of London to see a spanking new video, Lloyd's - Looking Ahead, extolling the virtues of the troubled insurance market. Just into an exciting bit and the soundtrack failed, leaving the contributors mouthing silently. 'How much did we pay for this ?' demanded one underwriter. 'Whatever it was it is going to be cut by a half,' retorted another.

On reflection, the Woolwich Building Society has decided that it should pay more than pounds 50 in compensation to Albert Crowl, a black saver who was grilled by local constabulary when he asked to withdraw funds from his account in Kilburn, London.

Readers of our Sunday sister paper will recall that Mr Crowl - who had been saving with the Woolwich for 15 years - was so disorientated by his experience that he was forced to take time off work.

Mr Crowl has now been offered pounds 1,000. But he says: 'I still think I'll take my account elsewhere.'

Reports that Gerrard & National, the City discount house, has sold its entire wine cellar are wide of the mark. It turns out instead that the company is closing its wine store in the Old Kent Road.

'Some years ago directors and staff had substantial wine holdings,' explains Nick Wallis, the company secretary. 'Stocks are now kept at the shippers.'

The National Association of Pension Funds has chosen Ian McCaskill as its lunchtime speaker for its November conference.

Hahlow there . . . Well, it looks like another stormy few months with a depression sweeping across the pensions industry from the direction of Whitehall. Now if we look at this old satellite picture we can see the culprit here, a sudden tidal wave off Grand Canaria.