Home, sweet home for abandoned gnomes

City Diary

If you suffer from the crippling social stigma of owning garden gnomes, fear not. Help is at hand. Top Essex Tory Robert Chambers has transformed his garden at Duddenhoe End, near Saffron Walden, into a sanctuary for unwanted gnomes.

Mr Chambers, former leader of Uttlesford District Council, has only received two so far, but he says thisproves how very much we Brits care about our gnomes. "I like them because they are friendly little creatures who always have a smile on their face.... People have revered creatures such as gnomes, pixies, goblins and leprechauns for thousands of years. They represent the spirits that live under the soil and look after the plants."

Sounds like someone should be looking after Mr Chambers.

Calling all bond dealers. Forget dollars and yen, how about investing in five-years' worth of top Bordeaux plonk?

For a mere pounds 2,650 you can buy a Matrix-Securities 1996 Wine Bond and receive 10 cases of wine a year for around half the shop price, according to the company.

Matrix-Securities, a corporate finance boutique. has teamed up with Jonathan Maltus, a Brit who sold his engineering recruitment company two years ago and bought the Chateau Teyssier vineyard.

The vineyard produces Saint Emilion Grand Cru "for laying down", and under the five-year deal you will also get L'Esprit de Teyssier claret and rose to guzzle while the top plonk matures.

Mr Maltus is seeking to raise pounds 1m from around 350 investors to build up the vineyard. David Royds, a director of Matrix-Securities, admits it isn't really a bond, rather a way of buying wine cheaply. Mr Royds insists the offer isn't aimed solely at high net worth individuals. "We're aiming more at people who drink a fair amount of wine."

I am the sitter, she said and sat

In the seat, carefully arranging her hat

In the office, next the window, next the road, by the river

Sitting and looking, her ample form suspended in amber and wood

Admired and spruce.

Office Corp Furniture of High Wycombe has launched its new range of office furniture with a brochure in which the usual sales "blurb" has been replaced by a series of poems, the above example being on the front cover.

Chester Wedgewood, the company's chief executive, wanted something different and he chose Giles Emerson, a poet and copywriter to do it.

Giles wrote seven short poems for them, and says he is delighted with the result. "It's a way of giving personality and colour to something that is very stereotypical and straight - a range of chairs."

Giles does a lot of copywriting for people such as the Foreign Office, and recently turned down an opportunity to draft the Government's White Paper on competitiveness, as he couldn't get down to London from his home in Shropshire. He has also written stuff for Whitbread's O'Hagan pubs, which sell bottled Murphy's beer: "A good head on stout shoulders."

I prefer the stuff about "her ample form" myself.

Karen Jones, managing director of Pelican, signed the sale of the cafes group to Whitbread on Monday - her 42nd birthday. And she has every reason to celebrate. She has 398,000 Pelican shares plus 1.5 million options exercisable at 31p. Given that Whitbread bought out the Dome and Cafe Rouge group for 170p per share, Mrs Jones will be trousering around pounds 2.8m.

Hailing originally from Upper Poppleton just outside York, Mrs Jones has brought a whiff of the Continent to the grey world of British caffs. Now she is the ultimate Londoner - the Pelican group is based in Frith Street in trendy Soho, and her club is the nearby Groucho, that nest of advertising bores. Come on - let's have a Pelican brasserie for Upper Poppleton.

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