The City Diary: He's a diamond geezer and man of the people

Slackbelly
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The Independent Online

Bob Diamond, Barclays new chief executive, gave a spirited performance in front of the Treasury Select Committee last week – batting away awkward questions, then inserting a line about growing up poor in Massachusetts, along with a tale about a conversation he'd just had with a Welsh sheep farmer (oddly, the bank refuses to say how this unusual phone call occurred).

But is the multimillionaire really such a man of the people? Now he's moved back to London, I ask if he's rehired his personal chef (whose services he dispensed with when he last moved to the States). That one gets knocked away by a spokesman complaining my query is not serious enough.

There's plenty more where that came from, sunshine. Diamond's select committee appearance has also prompted speculation about his impressively dark locks, with some suggesting its colour might not survive a sudden rain shower. Does he dye it? "I'm not sure I want to get into that," blocks the mouthpiece. Does anybody at Barclays answer questions?

Jeffrey Meyer: cursed with the golden touch

This week's most important poser for investors: Where next for Jeffrey Meyer, the soon-to-depart chief executive of Gartmore who will trouser £12m after presiding over its disastrous year as a public company? We learnt on Tuesday that the firm and brand will be put out of their misery when they're swallowed by rival Henderson, par for the course for Meyer. He used to work for Bear Stearns (deceased) and Lehman Brothers (ditto). Is the man cursed?

Yes, Prime Minister, the lights are out

The performance of Yes, Prime Minister, the stage play of the classic BBC TV programme in which Emily Joyce plays PM Jim Hacker's political adviser, Claire Sutton, was cancelled on Monday after the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue, London, had a power-cut. One of the script's sub-plots? An impending energy crisis.

A dog's life for homemaking queen of America

Martha Stewart, America's so-called homemaking queen who went to prison in 2004 for lying to prosecutors during an insider dealing probe, has suffered an unfortunate accident. On Tuesday, as she leant over her dog, Francesca, she startled the poor mutt who "bolted upright with such force" and whacked poor Martha in the chops. "I felt a bit of whiplash as blood gushed forth from my split lip," Martha recalls. "Rushing to a mirror, I realised it was a pretty serious gash. I called [her daughter] Alexis and asked her to call the hospital to get a plastic surgeon to the emergency room. I called the police to ask for a ride to the hospital, forgetting that Carlos, my driver was waiting to drive me into the city." What a trooper.

DiMaio on his travels after just a year

I see that the hedge fund manager Jack DiMaio, hired in 2009 as part of an effort to reinvigorate Morgan Stanley's trading business, is leaving the embattled bank after just over a year. It is not known what DiMaio will do next, though I doubt he'll starve. In 2001, at the age of 34, he signed a guaranteed three-year $15m a year contract with Credit Suisse. It remains the stuff of Wall Street legend.

Has staff-owned John Lewis undersold itself?

The spinners at John Lewis may have missed a trick. As we get mixed Christmas messages back from the high street – with some retailers criticised for their unusual reporting periods – the department store of choice for the middle classes is eager to make sure everybody knows how well it has done. "When we announced our five weeks' Christmas/Clearance figure on Wednesday last week it was for the five weeks ending Saturday 1 January and our like-for-like increase for these five weeks was 7.6 per cent," the company says. "However, because one or two other retailers have announced their five weeks' trading period ending 8 January, I thought it might be helpful to offer the following as information."

On the new measure, John Lewis sales would have increased a lot more. Is this the first case ever of the retailer being undersold?

Works by David Downes at City Hall show history in the making

London artist David Downes, now holding an exhibition of his work at City Hall, specialises in city scenes. His work has found its way into the collection of several banks and recently he completed a week's residence at Goldman Sachs.

I'm told he is one of only a few British artists to be given access to the building stage of London's Olympic Stadium and his current show exhibits several of these new works. Take a close look for posterity. If Tottenham Hotspur get their way and move to the site, the stadium will be demolished.

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