Pembroke: Caught on the hop

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The Independent Online
There are signs that the Bank of England could develop a taste for wrong-footing the pundits and the markets. Skipping to the Treasury to talk about yesterday's rate rise, the Chancellor could barely contain a smirk as he professed to be disappointed by such a small turnout to record a historic turning point in the interest rate cycle.

That the move was a surprise was confirmed when it emerged that even Gus O'Donnell, a senior Treasury figure in charge of interest rates and a former press secretary to John Major, spent the weekend in blissful ignorance of the impending policy change.

On the subject of historic turning points, the latest edition of the Hambro Company Guide provides food for thought. Stoy Hayward, auditor to the rapidly expanding Polly Peck empire until it crashed in flames, has emerged at the top of the corporate advisers tables as the accountancy firm with the fastest-growing clients.

Stoy saw an average increase in clients' pre-tax profits of 39.2 per cent, significantly ahead of the number two firm with 26.4 per cent.

Despite a valiant attempt, Enterprise Oil has failed to snatch the all-time record for the worst coverage in the British national press.

Second-quarter figures from Presswatch show Enterprise scored an impressive minus 1,505 for its botched takeover bid for Lasmo. Each article generates two points.

While the oil company easily surpassed Eurotunnel's minus 1,242 for the second quarter, the reputational analysts say it fell short of the record pasting handed out to Barclays Bank prior to Martin Taylor's arrival.

This quarter's class swots were 3i, which topped the survey with 833 points, and the depressingly wholesome Marks & Spencer with 696. Oddly enough, Cheltenham & Gloucester did pretty well with 572.

Emergency restoration is under way in political circles. Taking the morning air in Westminster over the weekend, passers-by were amused to see a van parked in the grounds of the House of Commons. 'Archer Conservation', read the logo, 'Specialist Contractor'.

Helen Sharman, the only British astronaut to be propelled from a launch pad, has resisted the temptation to sell out to British Airways. The airline was keen to use her in a photograph (see page 15) plugging the virtues of its revamped Club Europe (wider seats on the plane and a tarted-up lounge on the ground).

Clearly Ms Sharman has no truck with in-flight comfort. More at home in the cramped confines of a command capsule, she turned down the offer and the airline was forced to use an actor.

Not so that other famous astronaut William (James T Kirk) Shatner, whose voice-over will feature prominently in the TV commercials.