The City Diary

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Paris is a city for lovers ... with or without travel insurance

Tenuous piece of "research" of the week award has to go to comparison site Moneysupermarket.com for "telling us" that one in 10 holiday romances lead to wedding bells.

Apparently, Paris, Majorca and Barcelona are the best European destinations to head for if you want to meet the man or woman of your dreams. But avoid the Caribbean – not much chance of finding the love of your life there, or so it seems. And the motive for Moneysupermarket sending such a release? "With all the excitement and anticipation of your getaway, it's important to have adequate travel insurance." There were 50 job cuts at the website the other week – expect more if this kind of dross keeps being pumped out.

Lorraine – and no mistake

Great gaffe in last week's 'Insurance Times'. An article on the insurance giant Lockton International refers to a senior executive named Lorraine Kelly. Somehow, the reporter confused one Lorraine Boyle with the popular GMTV presenter, right. Rumour has it that the reporter's excuse to his editor was that Ms Boyle "sounded like Lorraine Kelly", which is surely reason enough. Don't bother checking the magazine's website for the error, though – Lockton soon ensured it was corrected. The City Diary awaits a front-page correction this week.

Supertankers ahoy! They're thinking big in Essex

Little-noticed news last week, what with the break-up drama at the airports operator BAA and the continuing crisis in the housing market: Dubai Ports World has signed a £400m contract for the first phase of a new port in south-east Essex. Laing O'Rourke and Dredging International will build the port, which will allow in 400m-long container ships, at London Gateway. This means that in 10 to 15 years' time, London will be able to take boats that are too big to pass through the Panama Canal. What's more, the project will create 12,000 jobs, which only goes to show that the British have a habit of ignoring good news.

Good news for inveterate hoarders in Belgravia

Our thanks to Any Junk?, the biggest – guess what? – junk-clearance company in the UK, for providing us with the following: British homeowners are wasting up to £71,500 by filling their houses with junk. A "declutter" – that's Any Junk?'s word, not ours – frees up an average of 60sq ft of space. In London SW1, a square foot is worth £1,183, it claims in its press release. So. Let's get this straight: a junk-clearance company thinks people should clear their junk. Nice try, although Jason Mohr, founder of Any Junk?, protests: "It's only when you do the numbers that you realise quite what a waste of money hoarding can be."

Aon's friends and enemies reunited

The champagne corks must have been popping at Aon, the insurance group. It looks set to win the hand of rival Benfield, the Lloyd's broker founded by the late Matthew Harding, former vice-chairman of Chelsea FC. But not everyone at Aon Towers will be happy. Spare a thought for Elliot Richardson and his facultative team, who in 2006 were the subject of legal action by Benfield – which has Francis Maude MP, left, on its board – against Aon for poaching staff. Once, Richardson was Benfield's golden boy, but this defection is thought to have left a bitter taste in his former bosses' mouths.

Credit Crunch – the new recipe for a nice night in

It seems that the credit crunch may be the kick-start we Brits need to help us shed the pounds. David Trunkfield, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, tells us: "Wallets and waists are getting thinner." The accountancy firm's own research shows that the credit crunch is prompting people to eat out less – apparently it's the first thing we cut back on. Yet at the same time, 5 per cent of us are preparing to end our gym memberships in order to save money. Something to look forward to as those long winter nights draw in, eh?

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow ...

Favourite city eatery 1 Lombard Street is celebrating its 10th anniversary at the moment, charging strapped punters 1998 prices for certain dishes. The promotion seems to be doing the trick: the place was full to bursting point last week, bucking the trend reported above by PricewaterhouseCoopers. But it seems that it's more than simply special offers swelling the numbers. A waiter at the restaurant tells us: "We've had a great summer so far. Bankers in the City have been cancelling their holidays left, right and centre because they're all scared their heads could be first on the block if there's a post-summer cull."

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