Pembroke: Gambling chief deserts the desert

HAS THE monumental Luxor casino in Las Vegas fallen victim to the Curse of the Pharaohs? William Paulos, the general manager of the huge pyramid complex, resigned unexpectedly yesterday, saying he was moving to Australia. This follows reports of fatalities during the construction of the dollars 375m Egyptian-themed casino hotel last year, and inexplicable opening day problems with the elevators that descend from guest-rooms to the tomb of Tutankhamun on the burial-chamber level.

Officials of Circus Circus, the casino's owners, deny Mr Paulos is leaving for operational reasons. And gamblers are ignoring the dark rumours and thronging Nefertiti's Show Bar and the Nile Deli, not to mention the keno games and slots. The hotel is operating at 100 per cent capacity.

Wall Street's gamblers, however, were spooked by the announcement. In their rush to dump Circus Circus shares, they caused a two-hour trading halt before Mr Paulos confirmed he was leaving for a more lucrative job with a Melbourne-based gaming group that had offered him a substantial equity stake.

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BUSINESS IN KENT is picking up for the British School of Motoring, thanks to the local brewery.

The reason for the upturn in trading is not that Shepherd Neame is sponsoring learner drivers in the area, but that it is sending its own staff on refresher courses because their driving is so bad.

The brewery's 55 company car drivers had 30 accidents in the past year, forcing the company into drastic action. Now they will have a special three-hour session with BSM, costing a total of pounds 5,000.

LONDON'S YUPPIES will be grooving the night away in unusual fashion tomorrow night as they congregate in Wandsworth, south London, for Le Roc Winter Ball. Le Roc is a modern form of rock 'n' roll dance style which, the organisers tell me, enables you to touch your partner while dancing to contemporary music. According to the organisers, the charity Children Nationwide, guests have been attending classes in Battersea to perfect their technique and increase their chances of finding an appropriate partner.

Billed as 'Yuppie love', the ball will be attended by 200 bright young things. Ninety per cent of the guests are single, average income is pounds 42,000 and the typical education is small to middling public school followed by Exeter, Oxford or Durham university. They are also, the organisers say, 'tall, well bred and with good bone structure'. But if they are all so marvellous, why do they need such assistance to meet their Mr or Mrs Right?

MY DESCRIPTION of Alex Brummer's forthcoming Hanson book as 'semi- authorised' has sparked heated debate in literary and journalistic circles alike. The author, who also earns a crust as the financial editor of the Guardian, is keen to discount suggestions of a guiding hand from the nobleman.

'I'm sure that if I rang up for Lord Hanson's school report I would not get it,' he explained firmly. Probably not, but worth a try.