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Big companies get the message that no one holds a torch for Beijing

How the heart bleeds for all those companies that rushed to sign up for various Olympic tie-ins without realising what a poisoned (Tibetan) chalice it would turn out to be. The penny's finally dropping, though. French utility giant EDF was supposed to launch its massive Beijing-based publicity campaign this week to celebrate its various Olympic sponsorships; on the French side of the channel, it was to feature superstar swimming champ Laure Manaudou (left). Oops: in light of events, it has been postponed indefinitely and, as 'l'Express' reports, no date has yet been fixed for its eventual launch. Expect to see this repeated dozens of times with various Euro companies over the next few months: for every one dead monk in Lhasa, read 100 expensively scrapped Western billboards, one suspects.

Walsh's theatre of the absurd

Is business the new rock'n'roll? Er, probably not. But still business has become a more palatable place to be for the great and good of the arts. Take this week's Institute of Directors annual convention in London, where the usual cast list of business bigwigs is being joined by Hollywood superstar Kevin Spacey. According to the press release, Spacey, artistic director at the Old Vic, is the warm-up act for a new media star who has graced our screens over the last few weeks – Willie Walsh of BA. His T5 tales are a real hoot apparently.

The prince is no pauper

Gloom might be overhanging the financial markets and the economy might be nosediving, but one venture is happily bucking the trend. Prince Charles's recently opened shop at Tetbury near Highgrove in Gloucestershire is thriving by all accounts. Locals can't get enough of the "essentials" stocked in the shop, such as locally produced champagne, Lebanese soaps, fudge and chocolates. Our mole tells us: "Sales are around 40 per cent better than expected. It's going great guns." Fancy a job in the banking sector, Charles?

Having a laugh with the Pru

'Extras' stars Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are going full steam ahead in their latest comedic venture, to be titled 'The Men from the Pru'. Insiders at the British insurance group tell us: "We've spoken to Messrs Gervais and Merchant over the project. They're in the research phase at the mo and have been in for a rootle around our archive. Very nice chaps." The comedy is expected to be about a group of 20-somethings working in an insurance company in the early Seventies, when the Man from the Pru still existed; door-to-door sellers were axed in 2003. Some nice free advertising it may be, but let's see if the Pru reckons Messrs Gervais and Merchant are still nice chaps when the jokes come their way.

Get car park: a movie location bites the dust

Fans of 'Get Carter' have just a few hours left to visit the multi-storey car park made famous by the Michael Caine movie. Aficionados of the 1971 film will be able to take one last look from the top of the structure this weekend before it is finally closed for demolition. Trinity Square, also known as the Get Carter car park, will be developed by Spenhill, a subsidiary of Tesco. Gateshead Council says the top floor, which enjoys panoramic views across Newcastle and Gateshead, will be open today on a first-come first-served basis.

'We told you so': investigator socks it to SocGen

Just what the wobbling banking sector needs: France's massive Société Générale is back in the frame for the astonishing multi-billion-euro Jérôme Kerviel case after German trading standards investigator Michel Zollweg told a French inquiry that he and others had flagged up "severe concerns" about the Leesonian trader's positions to SocGen in April 2007 ... and the bank had done nothing about it. SocGen has repeatedly denied it knew anything was remiss.

Would you Adam and Eve it?

Despite scooping a performance bonus of nearly half a million quid last year, it seems that Post Office chief executive Adam Crozier (right) still has plenty to do to sort out the ailing group. The latest gaff to befall Royal Mail comes after it sent a hospital appointment letter, which only needed to travel 15 miles, 8,000 miles to the Falklands Islands. Glen Campbell was expecting the letter to arrive at his home in Tantobie, near Stanley in County Durham. But instead it was sent to Port Stanley in the Falklands. The letter had been sent with just a 32p stamp. Still plenty of room to cut costs then, Adam.

The sky is falling in on BAA's new boss

You have to feel sorry for the new chief executive of airports operator BAA, Colin Matthews. First he had to contend with the Terminal 5 baggage-handling fiasco, and just weeks into his tenure he found BAA at the wrong end of a savage attack by the Competition Commission over its south-east of England and Scotland airports monopolies. Worse still, every time he went to a television studio to defend BAA on the publication of the report last Tuesday, he bumped into Christopher Clarke, the Competition Commission's inquiry chairman. And much to Clarke's amusement, Matthews was always the second man on air.

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