Credit crisis diary: Jamie picks the wrong time to expand

The Diary bows to no one in its admiration for the "naked chef", right, but is it possible that Jamie Oliver's sense of timing has gone awry? Fresh from a gruelling stint persuading the people of Rotherham to eat more healthily, Oliver's next venture will be in a slightly more glamorous location. He plans a trendy new eatery in Canary Wharf. Shame the once-bustling malls beneath Docklands' finest investment banks are now beginning to resemble the south Yorkshire industrial wastelands with which our favourite chef is now all too familiar.

What goes around comes around

As the Chancellor ponders how to help struggling small businesses, he ought to remember that he owes them a favour. Just prior to speaking at an event to mark Global Entrepreneurship Week yesterday, Alistair Darling gave an interview to a BBC reporter. The first couple of questions were batted away with ease, but Mr Darling then looked stumped by a tougher third inquiry. Luckily, the large audience of entrepreneurs chose that moment to start their "speed-networking session", with a loud blast on a whistle. The uproar defeated the Beeb's sound equipment and the interview was abandoned.

Always look on the bright side of life

This week's award for wishful thinking goes to WhiteConcierge, the self-styled "lifestyle management service". It has published research showing that far from suffering in the downturn, the average wealthy person it targets is almost £140,000 better off today than five years ago. Keep telling yourselves it will be all right chaps.

A new line of work for your old foe?

Today's credit crunch gag: Talked to my bank manager the other day and he said he was going to concentrate on the big issues from now on... He sold me one outside KFC yesterday.

With friends like Alistair...

More help for the Chancellor comes in the form of the submissions he receives ahead of each pre-Budget report. One such plea should cause him to wince. The empty buildings tax he introduced in April to raise money and improve derelict city centres is apparently hitting one constituency particularly hard. It turns out local authorities have more empty buildings than anyone else, with Birmingham City Council alone facing a new rates bill that is £800,000 higher. Oops.

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