Pembroke: Got those Budget day blues again

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Phonogram, the record company, is not one to miss a commercial opportunity. Next Monday, the day before the Budget, it will release the new offering from the blues guitarist Robert Cray, called 'I hate taxes' and subtitled '1040 blues', a reference to the number on the US Internal Revenue Service forms.

Phonogram hopes the record will help the public 'beat those Budget day blues'. It even comes with extra songs, called Valued Added Trax.

It seems that Mr Cray has not heard of the unified Budget, however. 'I work hard for my money,' he laments. 'Every April you take it away.'

'The blues have been identified with the recession,' says a record company spokesman. But it is doubtful the new release will find its way to 11 Downing Street. After all, the extra songs, 'Right Next Door' and 'Smoking Gun' could be open to all sorts of interpretations from jumpy neighbours.

Low inflation and high unemployment may have ended hopes of pay increases for many people, but not Stephen Walls, chairman of the food distributor Albert Fisher.

According to the company's recently issued annual report, Mr Walls, who became chairman last year, received pounds 358,000 for the year, a thumping 25 per cent more than the pounds 284,000 his predecessor, Tony Millar, pocketed for 1992 - although he did receive an pounds 850,000 pay-off.

And how has the company performed? True earnings per share have risen from 1.8p in 1992 to 2.5p. But operating profits slid from pounds 52m to pounds 49m, and the company is hardly viewed as a star performer.

Mr Walls is the man who pocketed pounds 1m when he left Plessey a few years back and a further pounds 750,000 when he bailed out of the paper company Arjo Wiggins Appleton. Nice work, as they say, if you can get it.

Terry Venables, the former chief executive of Tottenham Hotspur, also joined the blossoming salary brigade last year shortly before going down to a late winner from that formidable front man, Alan Sugar. According to the Tottenham Hotspur annual report, Mr Venables' total remuneration shot up from pounds 267,000 to pounds 357,198 in his final year. Then there is the pounds 225,000 he was paid for loss of office. Nice work . . .

NM Rothschild, the blue-blooded investment house, is jolly cross with a bunch of impostors trying to use the Rothschild name to raise funds for investment in Eastern Europe. Apparently, the promoters are saying that Prince Rainier of Monaco is involved with the company (he isn't) and that it can guarantee returns of 25 per cent on Eastern European property.

Utter poppycock, says the pukka Rothschild, which has placed adverts in the national press. 'We would like to make it absolutely clear that the so-called Rothschild Bank located in Anguilla (British Antilles) and the Rothschild Fund are in no way associated with our family, or companies of which we are directors, owners or managers.'

'It is always difficult to know what to do in these situations,' says a Rothschild spokesman. 'We had one the other week naming itself Lloyd's and Rothschild, but we just got in touch and asked them to change the name.'

I hear City folk came over all brave the other evening when it came to walking over hot coals for charity at the Hurlingham Club in London. Teams from BZW, Lazards and Smith New Court dutifully turned up to leg it across eight feet of burning coals.

The only injury occurred when Karen Collier, wife of Dominic Collier, BZW's corporate finance director, accompanied her husband arm- in-arm across the burning strip and got a small piece of coal wedged between her toes, causing a small blister.

She was braver than the leader of the Lazards team. He failed to show and is having to pay the sponsorship money out of his own pocket.

(Photograph omitted)