Pembroke: Basically, love is a popular subject

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The Independent Online
HARD TO SEE the scandal-torn Conservative Party adopting the 'Love is . . .' characters as its mascots. But the animated nuclear family (plus dog) which personifies the Tories' 'Back to Basics' policy on family values is going from strength to strength.

Winchester Multimedia, the firm that owns the merchandising rights, has just signed a further eight deals to put messages such as 'Love is . . . not always pointing an accusing finger' on everything from duvets to T-shirts and is negotiating a deal with Korea.

Ironically Winchester, which says it has no plans to launch a 'Love is . . . getting back to basics' message, is also running a competition to find the 'Love is . . .' family of 1994.

The company is inviting families (not single-parent ones, presumably) to send in applications accompanied by up to 400 words on why their family is so special. I wonder how many Tory MPs will enter.

ZENEL HOXHA, the president of the Albanian Chamber of Commerce, was always going to have a difficult job on his trade mission to Britain. He was due here today to meet business leaders and encourage them to invest in Albania. But now the four-day visit has been cancelled and the deputation has decided to attend a meeting in Brussels instead.

ALLIED-LYONS' pounds 3m sponsorship of the Royal Shakespeare Company has set tongues wagging over how far the brewer's influence on the Bard's works might extend. What odds, for example, on productions of King Beer, A Winter's Ale and The Tempissed?

THE CATERING contract at the Central Criminal Court has come up for grabs. Tenders are invited for catering at all levels from the formal luncheon service in the Lord Mayor's and Sheriffs' Dining Room down to the three cafeterias serving morning snacks. Presumably the ability to serve up a mean bowl of porridge is considered an advantage.

A VERY LATE Christmas card lands on Pembroke's desk. The card, somewhat inappropriately, comes from the North American telephone company Sprint.

IT MAY BE a little late to blather on about Christmas parties, but Pembroke has just discovered the starkly different festive jollies enjoyed by staff of three top Japanese banks in London.

Dai-ichi Kangyo had its knees- up at the Regent Hotel while Fuji Bank held an extravagant bash at the Waldorf. No such style demonstrated by Sumitomo Bank. It ended up at Duffers Snooker Club, a venue described by one partygoer as 'not ritzy at all'.

'We are just around the corner from them and very price-competitive,' Duffers explains.

(Photograph omitted)