Pembroke: Heard it through the network

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The Independent Online
IT WAS Judgement Day at the Treasury yesterday where around a third of the department's mandarins received the order of the boot. But for the downsized Sir Humphreys there remained one cruel irony, courtesy of the department's trusty computer system. It was this, you may recall, that was responsible for the leak of the redundancy programme when one hapless civil servant pressed the wrong button and sent a confidential memo to all and sundry.

The whizzy computer is also used to advertise new jobs. But when gloomy mandarins switched on their terminals yesterday, the screens flashed up just one vacancy: for a clerk in the redundancy department.

CAN it be true that Jeremy Heywood, the axeman of the Treasury who has been responsible for the department's big shake-up, has taken to furtive movements to avoid being cornered in the loos? Treasury wags are saying that the youthful Mr Heywood now enters the department's Parliament Street offices via the Cabinet War Rooms.

YOU'D think this kind of thing would upset an actuary's sense of order, but I hear the studious number-crunchers down at Bacon & Woodrow are having trouble telling the time.

The firm, which likes to recruit graduates with double first Oxbridge maths degrees, occupies St Olaf's, a Grade One-listed building by London Bridge. A fine example of art deco architecture, it was renovated in 1989 after the Fine Art Commission went through the place insisting that all the chrome fixtures and fittings, from the light switches to the taps in the washrooms, must be exact replicas of the originals.

But the commission's zeal went a little too far. It insisted that the art deco clocks, mounted prominantly on the walls, keep their original mechanisms. The result is that none of them work properly and all tell different times. All very confusing, even for a bunch of mathematical boffins.

Richard Hyman, the cheerful chap who runs the retail consultancy Verdict Research, was on top form the other evening for his firm's 10th anniversary party. But although there were champagne and balloons aplenty, the poor man only received two cards, one from a client, the other from his mum.

ALAN Smith, the former B&Q chief executive, is on the move already. It was only two weeks ago that Mr Smith was moved sideways after the miraculous return of Jim Hodkinson, the man with the Alan Sugar beard who built up B&Q in the 1980s. Only in July Mr Hodkinson left Kingfisher for a career in America.

On Monday Mr Smith pops up at Eurotunnel, where he has been seconded to manage its retail services, including shops at the terminals, catering and billboard advertising. Quite whether he will return to Kingfisher when the project is completed is unclear.

BRITISH Telecom is causing much merriment in Barnsley with its new telephone directory covering the area. The directory refers to Hoyland, a small village in the heart of South Yorkshire's mining country, as Holyland.

BT is rather sheepish about its error. 'We knew the village was special, but not that special,' it said.