Football mania unites new Treasury team

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The Independent Online
Gordon Brown could not have headed off on holiday at the end of the week without making a few more announcements. Apart from his expected decision about the new deputy governor of the Bank of England in the week that Howard Davies leaves the post to take over financial regulation, it is all change at the Treasury Press Office too. Tennis and cricket fan Jill Rutter is to be succeeded this week as head of communications by her deputy, the Aston Villa supporter Peter Curwen.

Many observers had expected the culture clash between the Chancellor's chief spin-doctor, Charlie Whelan, and Ms Rutter to end in the latter moving on. Ms Rutter jokes that she will consider any worthwhile job offers, as the Treasury has not yet decided on her next post.

Mr Curwen, a civil servant since 1986 and an expert on European Union matters ever since a stint in Brussels, notes that his passion for Villa is shared by the Bank of England's chief economist Mervyn King. Mr Whelan, a Spurs fan, says he is neutral on Villa but hates Arsenal. As well as an interest in football, apparently an essential qualification in New Labour circles, Mr Curwen is an avid bellringer and golfer. Oh yes, and he also has a master's degree in economics from Warwick University.

Birthdays are always a wonderful excuse for a party. So it turned out to be at the Personal Investment Authority yesterday, which celebrated its fourth anniversary with a lunchtime bash in the Cabot Hall, adjacent to its Canary Wharf headquarters.

There to rally the troops, alongside PIA chief executive, Colette Bowe, was Helen Liddell, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Ms Liddell was invited to tell those assembled what a marvellous job they are all doing under difficult circumstances.

Presumably she did not draw any comparisons between her own reign at the Treasury and that of her predecessor, in which the PIA was noted for its languid approach to resolving the pensions mis-selling problem.

From languid to languorous: baffled PIA staff are wondering why their boss insists on going up to male members of her board and planting big kisses on their cheeks. Some are said to be demanding that in a spirit of equality the PIA's chairman, Joe Palmer, should do the same.

The locals are awaiting a Royal visitor on the Isle of Arran next month. The Isle of Arran distillery, the first distillery on the West of Scotland isle for 150 years, was set up three years go by Harold Currie, a former managing director of Chivas Regal, together with his sons.

The company has opened a visitor centre and has invited the Queen to the official opening next month. It is thought to be the first time the Queen has visited the island in a wee while so there will be plenty of bunting out. So far the schedule does not look too punishing, however. Lunch at Brodick Castle, a spot of ribbon snipping and, no doubt a wee dram. The Queen will be given a 50-year -old bottle of Scotch to remember the occasion by.

Are you a double dipper, a squirrel, a one-hit wonder or just one of the "mad for it" brigade? Air Miles, which boasts it has just signed up its four millionth collector, says it has identified four types of collector. Double dippers are the clever cloggses who use loyalty cards and credit cards to get double points. Squirrels save for big trips, one-hit wonders buy 70 tubes of toothpaste to bump up their miles, while "mad for its" are those (presumably) ideal punters who see Air Miles as "part of their life".

Surely Air Miles has missed a fifth type: "bright siders" - the happy chappies thankful for their air miles even though their flight was delayed six hours and their luggage lost.