Pembroke: Getting to the root of a boom in babies

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The Independent Online
Is there something in the water at Power Health Products in North Humberside? Or is it the tablets? The company has been making vitamin and health supplements for 20 years and last year started manufacturing a new, potent form of capsules of ginseng, the east Asian root thought to have aphrodisiac qualities.

Since Power Ginseng 2500 Plus hit the shelves, seven of the company's 30 female staff have fallen pregnant. Other members of staff have taken the capsules with, they claim, interesting consequences.

With babies now expected at one a month for the rest of the year, marketing director Ken Norton is worried. Sales may boom, but can the firm organise enough maternity cover?

'We have started to recruit some staff,' he says. 'We have received a job application from one woman who said she has already had her children so these matters are of little interest to her.'

Ivan Fallon, the deputy editor of the Sunday Times who is being re-packaged as a columnist from the end of this month, is strenuously denying some interesting publishing rumours.

Word is that now he has finished his book on Heinz chief Tony O'Reilly (due out in September), he is starting on biography of George Soros. Even more interesting is the rumoured size of the advance: pounds 100,000.

There's nothing in it, says Mr Fallon, who clearly would not get out of bed for such small change. 'That seems a very modest fee,' he sniffs.

Business is obviously still pretty ropey in the country house hotel market. A 19th century pile in Sussex has just introduced Bluffers Guide weekends for would-be golfers.

Horsted Place is offering two nights' accommodation, a lesson on golfing buzzwords, a souvenir copy of the Guide and a set of golf tees to leave in prominent places around the car and home. The only drawback is the price, which is enough make even the most hardy hacker fluff a putt: pounds 345 per bluffing couple.

Sir Peter Shepherd is not a happy man. Ever since he and his family were ranked in the top 400 of Britain's rich (placed 30th, wealth pounds 326m) he has been inundated with begging letters.

The 77-year-old businessman, who stepped down as chairman of Shepherd Construction two years ago, has been moved to dash off a letter to his local paper. Lay off, he says, we're not that loaded.

'I would like it to be known that I am not the richest man in Yorkshire,' he writes. 'My grandfather had seven children and my father had six. No one person has a large slab of the business and I am worth less than 1 per cent. As a family we are quite generous locally, but we can't sort out all the local problems.' So there.

There were a few aching limbs in the City yesterday after a football team from the Square Mile became the latest victim of Manchester United's glory run. In front of an Old Trafford crowd, best described as small, a team of analysts and the financial press received an 11-2 drubbing from a United management team.

The City team, which included our own Robert Cole, benefited from a star performance from Keith Wilson, of Panmure Gordon. United chairman Martin Edwards proved a useful centre forward and bagged a brace of goals. 'He would have had a hat-trick but was denied a penalty in the last five minutes,' said one hamstrung Square Mile player.

The City's embarrassment was compounded by the admission that they played with 12 men for most of the second half.