Pembroke: BA gong scoop

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BRITISH AIRWAYS salvaged something from what has been a rum year by anyone's standards yesterday, by scooping up three gongs at the Business Traveller awards at the Savoy in London.

The Princess of Wales handed out plaques for best airline, best short-haul airline and a special award for Lord King, for services to the airline industry.

Richard Branson, whose Virgin Atlantic trailed a distant third in the best airline category, was not there to witness his adversary's success.

In some ways he was the lucky one. The speech by transport secretary John MacGregor was so dull that guests started reading the menu for light relief.

ALSO AT THE awards was Phil Soar, managing director of the exhibitions group Blenheim, who writes football books in his spare time. The fast-talking Nottingham Forest supporter tells me he is now on his 20th book and is updating his history of Arsenal. 'I do the research in the evenings - going to interview managers, that sort of thing - and write them on plane journeys,' he says.

The irony is that his publisher is Reed, with which Blenheim regularly engages in battle on the exhibitions circuit. 'It makes it interesting when I bump into Peter Davis,' he says.

DIRECTORS of the Enlightened Tobacco Company, which sells Death cigarettes, are doing the rounds to drum up interest for their pounds 1.5m placing.

On the face of it you wouldn't rate their chances. Here is a two- year-old company, scheduled to lose pounds 700,000 this year, that is taking on the likes of RJ Reynolds with a brand name that does not exactly encourage long-term use.

Au contraire, says BJ Cunningham, the 40-a-day managing director, whose background includes a spell as an ice-cream salesman. 'We've got some very firm interest.'

The company needs the funds to market its new brand, Death Lights, and launch an advertising campaign featuring the slogan 'Die with us.'

THE INDEPENDENT's front-page story earlier this week about the Bank of England's Budget advice to the Chancellor seems to have provoked a curious reaction in Threadneedle Street. The Treasury may be doing away with its pre- Budget purdah, but the Bank has just decided to impose its own.

Apparently, the Governor is so concerned about keeping Kenneth Clarke sweet that he has banned executive directors from breaking bread with the press until the Budget is out of the way.

THE CUDDLY golf commentator Peter Alliss has had to apologise to would-be club members who invested pounds 17m in a golf course development he fronted.

Compton Holdings ran into difficulties and the managing director has been declared bankrupt, leaving Alliss to write to investors in the latest issue of Golf World. Apparently, the finances did not exist to complete the developments.

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