Pembroke: A few knotty problems at the charity auction

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A crowd of City slickers braved the cold for a celebrity tie auction at Leadenhall Market yesterday, raising more than pounds 2,000 for a homeless charity.

Wielding the gavel was the actress Jenny Seagrove, who kicked off with a passable impersonation of Baroness Thatcher before urging the throng to dig deep, 'even if you are a Lloyd's name'.

Of the 20-plus items of assorted neckwear collected by the sponsors, Jeeves, the dry cleaners, a Ralph Steadman handpainted original proved the star lot, fetching pounds 210. A typically lurid black and yellow tie from Sir John Harvey-Jones' collection netted pounds 90 and Ms Seagrove saw off all bidders to take home a boring Barcelona club tie signed by Gary Lineker.

Embarrassment for Lord Alexander, chairman of NatWest Bank. Ms Seagrove had trouble getting shot of his tie and had to lower the starting price to pounds 20 (it finally went for a paltry pounds 25, the lowest price of the day).

An interesting late entry from Kevin Maxwell struggled to find a market, fetching only pounds 50. As Ms Seagrove put it: 'He might need the money more than the charity.'

Goldman Sachs has swooped in the transfer market just before Christmas, poaching the bulk of the oil team from its rival S G Warburg. Peter Nicol and Rob Arnott, whose team were ranked second by Extel last year, join the Goldman millionaires in late January.

Lured by the prospect of a thumping bonus next year, no doubt? No, no, no. Fine firm, good career move, that kind of thing. Mmmm.

Not content with exporting the John Bull 'theme' pub to Prague and Budapest, Allied-Lyons is now starting on ice cream to the Indians. Under a joint venture with the Indian Kwality Group, Allied will open a Baskins-Robbins ice cream franchise in Bombay on Christmas Eve.

Flavours have been adapted to the local palate and will include Praline Cashew, Date Krunch and Papaya Pineapple. 'If it catches on, the market could be huge,' says an Allied spokesman.

Are Kenneth Clarke's civil servants trying to tell him something about the travails of being chancellor? The Christmas card from the Treasury certainly looks like it. It features a Low cartoon of Sir Austen Chamberlain, who had two spells as chancellor earlier this century and hated both of them.

The card says Sir Austen didn't like the long hours, the constant interruptions and had problems with the Budget. He couldn't wait to jack it all in by the sound of it, writing of his 'relief' when he became leader of his party. Not much seasonal cheer there for Britain's best- known Hush Puppy customer.

Euphoric mists are only just clearing in Kidderminster, where Brintons Carpets has completed one of the largest orders in the company's history.

The order, for 110,000 square yards of plushest Axminster, has just been fitted in the MGM Grand Hotel, the swanky new Las Vegas casino that opened last week.

It's the kind of order most sales managers would die for, pounds 2m worth of carpeting in all areas - hotel rooms, corridors, the casino, the lot. Some of the 27 specially commissioned designs raised a few eyebrows as they came off the looms, I understand, particularly one featuring overgrown pansies.

'Only the Americans would go for something like that,' says a Brintons man.

Britain's film industry, such as it is, seems to be acquiring a taste for the Business Expansion Scheme just as it fades and dies. Moor Street Films is the latest on the bandwagon, attempting to raise pounds 750,000 for Mad Dogs and Englishmen, a thriller set in London and Somerset.

With hopes of being the next Leon the Pig Farmer - another BES-backed film which became a cult hit - the directors will start shooting next May. 'We've already got half the money, so we know we can start,' says Henry Cole, of the producers Movie Screen.

(Photograph omitted)