Pembroke: Forget-me-nots from behind bars

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The Independent Online
Walter Goldsmith, chairman of airborne florist Flying Flowers, has tapped into a new market: prisons. So far he has managed to secure customers within the confines of Wandsworth Prison and Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight. With Britain's expanding prison population, he reckons he has spotted a potential goldmine and of course, a captive market.

Mr Goldmsith tells me that the orders are coming from male prisoners keen to bestow floral gifts on their wives or girlfriends at visiting times. The boys in clink hand over their loot to the warden or governor, who places the order on their behalf. Mr Goldsmith is adamant that the polystyrene boxes contain only flowers and not files, hacksaws or other jailbreaking equipment. Even so, wardens may be forgiven for rifling through the carnations, just to check.

There were a few bleary eyes yesterday afternoon over at The Water Rat, a pub in Marsh Benham, near Newbury. The occasion was the first birthday party of Bertie Belcher's, the brewery founded by David Bruce of Firkin pubs fame.

As you would expect from the man who launched a thousand hangovers, some amusing brews were available including Ratty's, Toady's Moley's and Badger's. 'I think Toady's proved the most popular though of course I didn't have much because I was driving,' he said. Publicans Christine and Ian Dodd were unavailable for comment. 'They're recovering,' a colleague said.

Mark Bunce, who with his wife Christina, runs Country Casuals, the country gel's clothes shop chain, kept putting his foot in it yesterday. Root of his problem was the Elvi subsidiary which specialises in clothes for the larger woman. 'It is a large market,' he said. 'Sorry that's a terrible pun. 'No, it is sizeable.' Deeper and deeper . . .

In an uncharacteristic bout of good humour, Barclays Bank has issued a collection of the more eccentric excuses for not paying an invoice. They include: 'The building was ram-raided in the middle of the night and our account records are under a Ford Cortina in the front office.' For the more rural excuse, it is hard to beat the small engineering firm in South Wales which said: 'A goat got into the building and ate all our invoices and our cheque book.'

God occasionally intervenes, but not always on the right side. This from a furniture retailer: 'The finance director has just heard the call and just walked out of the office. Since then we have discovered our cheque book is missing. It obviously received the call too.'

No one can accuse Johnny Ekperigin of missing out of a topical marketing opportunity. Mr Ekperigin, co- owner of Julie's bar and restaurant , a pleasant eaterie in West London, plans to take advantage of the Government's image problems by launching a cocktail called 'The Sleaze', aimed at those 'on the take or on the make'. The price: pounds 7. Because, as he puts it, 'sleaze doesn't come cheap.'

It's hats at a jaunty angle over at Short Brothers, the Belast defence contractor where human resources director Mary Donnelly has been named 'Personnel manager of the year' by Personnel Management magazine Life chez Donnelly can best be descibed as busy. As well as her full-time job as director of human resources she has three children under eight and is studying for an MBA.