Pembroke: Hope on the cards

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The Independent Online
At least some of Midland Bank's customers should be able to expect a better service from its automatic teller machine network following recent unhappy experiences on the part of Sir Peter Walter, the bank's chairman.

Sir Peter tried to use the machine at Storrington, West Sussex, but had his card rejected twice. Then he found the hole in the wall at Steyning out of order. Incandescent with rage, he posted one of his business cards through the letter box with a note saying: 'The cash machine was out of service on Saturday at 2pm. Please call my office on Monday and let me know what the problem was.' The branch rang back on the dot of 9am.

At the Storrington branch, he strode in clad in weekend mufti of blue jeans, identified himself as Midland's chairman and asked for assistance.

Trying to defuse the atmosphere, an assistant inquired cheerfully, 'Are you on holiday here, sir?' 'No,' volleyed Sir Peter, 'I've just bought a house near here and this is my local branch.'

Any bets on Storrington's Midland customers being able to look forward to the most efficient cash machine service in the country?

National Power, the nation's largest electricity generator, has emerged as also one of its largest purveyors of tomatoes.

When National Power was carved out of the old Central Electricity Generating Board it inherited 35 acres of tomato-growing greenhouses at the giant Drax power station in Yorkshire.

The sideline - which yields 6,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year - started as an extra use for the water used to cool the Drax turbines. The warm water is tapped off and pumped through oversized radiators, which fan warm air into the greenhouses, creating an ambient temperature that brings the tomatoes to a prompt ripeness.

The venture, run in partnership with Geest, is winsomely titled English Village Salads.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which has kept a very low profile on CD prices ('It's not an international issue and hopefully won't become one,' says a spokesman) has announced another victory in its campaign against pirating.

Following successes in Germany, where a single raid saw the seizure of 11 tonnes of cassettes, attention has turned to Poland, where a new generation of businessmen is eager to give consumers what they want.

In one month Warsaw police have seized about pounds 200,000 worth of tapes and CDs, prominent among them works by Pink Floyd and Madonna.