Pembroke: Bus to starting grid

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The Independent Online
It was first day at the office yesterday for Del and Paddy Barrett, the brother and sister team who used to scrutinise the motor sector at brokers Albert E Sharp. The pair chose new car registration day to launch Formula One, their motor industry research agency.

Choosing the name was a problem. Del Barrett says: 'We had a list as long as your arm. We looked at 0-60, Wheelspin and various parts of cars.' Six Cylinders and Accelerator might have been considered. Dipstick was not.

Sadly, the Formula One budget has not yet run to company cars. The siblings handed back their Toyota MR2 and TVR at Albert E Sharp and both are currently sans wheels. They are catching the bus to work.

Also grazing in new pastures is Mike Cornford, who resigned last week as head of global foreign exchange at NatWest Markets.

After 25 years of wage slavery (thumping good wages, mind) he has set up Currency Insight, a currency management group backed by the modestly-sized investment bank Dawnay Day. Can he match the six-figure salary he must have pocketed at NatWest? 'I'll be working on a performance basis,' he says.

Are standards slipping at Marks and Spencer, the retailer that prides itself on quality and value? Imagine the surprise of one shopper in Kendal, Cumbria, when she unpacked her groceries and found she had bought a bunch of rubber bananas and some broccoli with a sell-by date of 10 July, 1945.

M&S explains: '1945 was the supplier number. And the bananas came from a display which the customer must have mistaken for the real thing. They look good but we do not recommend the taste.'

Jeremy Brodie, the former Bentleys wine bar man who opened Brodie's bar in the City last year, is looking to expand. The air-conditioning in the Eldon Street watering hole has proved a profit-booster during the sticky summer and Mr Brodie hopes to add a second branch by next spring.

'I've got a couple of sites in mind. One of them is mind- blowing,' he enthuses.

Though reluctant to be drawn on the exact location, he says it is within the Square Mile, has a terrific view and space for outside drinking.

Fun and games at Hartwell House, Aylesbury, at the weekend when new partners at the accountants Ernst & Young enjoyed the usual 'get to know you' party.

Together with Michael Boyd, London managing partner, the newly-promoted eager beavers played croquet in the dark. Those wielding a mallet in the gloom included Dario Garcia, who is a big noise in Jaffa cakes and Girl Guide uniforms.

This is not as exciting as it sounds. As head of the firm's VAT litigation practice, Mr Garcia helped to secure zero- VAT ratings for both.