The City Diary: Dragons' fire: Burning enmity or bright publicity? You decide

Slackbelly exposes the Good the Bad, and the Ugly of the Square Mile

Back in April, Dragons' Den stars James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne conducted an unseemly spat in the pages of national newspapers. At the time, I raised the preposterous theory that this public falling out might – just might – be a PR put-up, as the filming of a new series of Dragons' Den had just begun and the hostility would provide an obvious point of promotion once the show was aired.

Not so, Bannatyne's spokesman insisted, before kindly educating me in the ways of the dark arts. Any disagreements between the dragons were too distant from the show's broadcast date, he explained, so they would be irrelevant even if the programme was looking to score a PR coup.

You can only imagine my surprise, then,viewing the trailer for the new series, which begins on Wednesday. "This isn't a game show," the sinister voiceover begins. "The dragons aren't in the den to amuse each other. This is their day job. Hours spent trawling through pitch after pitch after pitch, just to find the next business goldmine. And when they do, they'll fight each other for it."

The dragons are then pictured wearing boxing gloves. Who'd have thought it?

Box tickers shed light on graduate doldrums

The City's love of box-ticking has created a whole new profession, it seems. University College Dublin offers a masters degree in Regulation and Compliance (presumably for those who breezed through the undergraduate course) but if you haven't passed enough exams to get on to that, don't fret – you can always gain your brown overalls by enrolling at the University of Reading and taking its Advanced Capital Markets Regulations and Compliance or the the University of Westminster's Information Compliance.

It turns out that there are loads of these ridiculous-sounding courses, but you get the point. Meanwhile, news of these boondoggles reaches me along with tales of 17 per cent of male graduates not being able to find work. Quite why, is baffling.

Civil Service crème de la crème is still in demand

The age of austerity has had at least one direct effect: the number of vacancies on my favourite website, the Civil Service recruitment portal, has been slashed to 50, a historic low in my experience. Only crucial front-line positions remain, including a spot in the Scottish Government for a Gaelic language plan development officer; a clothworkers' research fellowship at the National Archives; and a cracking post being advertised by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which seeks a speechwriter for the Rt Hon Chris Huhne. Bit late, methinks.

Goga says ta ta to Riviera pad

Is the shine beginning to come off my luminous friend, and star of this column, Goga Ashkenazi? The socialite pal of Prince Andrew has been busy trying to re-brand herself as an oligarch – an ambitious project only marginally undermined by her penchant for appearing semi-naked in glossy photo shoots along with all her exotic trappings. Almost all the trappings, that is. The gossip among the ultra-rich set is that Goga has been trying to build a house in St Tropez, but has now withdrawn after failing to garner enough support from the local authorities. Sadly she does not manage to return my calls and fill me in on the story.

Silvio looks to flog Sardinian bolthole loved by the Blairs

More property rumours elsewhere on Planet Rich, where I hear that the Sardinian estate of Italian premier-cum-love machine, Silvio Berlusconi, is being quietly hawked. "The asking price is around €500m and the estate has several villas and is the most beautiful part of Sardinia," says my man with a tan. The spot, of course, became famous as the place where Tony Blair liked spending his holidays.

Humble toasties gain Italian accent in up-market move

Re-brandings of rubbish products part 1,862. The chintzy toasted sandwich maker is now being marketed by retailer Robert Dyas as a..."panini press". The cheeky monkeys.

After 27 years, Gillespie turns gatekeeper

Congratulations to Robert Gillespie, a senior managing director of Evercore Partners, who has been appointed as the Takeover Panel's next director-general. This is a job for a tough cop who can keep errant investment bankers in line, which is why the regulatory body has hired an, er, investment banker who spent 27 years at UBS (in various guises) as its senior referee.

Goldman's £1bn cheque to taxman still on the to-do list

Another week, another call to Goldman Sachs to see if it's paid Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs the promised £1bn (plus) in corporation tax. You'll recall that God's bank propitiously let that figure slip out to the papers last autumn when it and its chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, were being crucified for their roles in the financial crisis, and, by my calculations, the bill is due by October. The public purse is still waiting for Goldman's generous donation, so I ask the investment bank if there is any reason why it's quicker off the mark when prompting a few puff pieces, compared with signing cheques? "Yes, we pay taxes when they are due," sniffs a spokesman dismissively. "Have a good weekend".

postmaster@slackbelly.com

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin