Pembroke: Is that Eddie on the dog?

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The Independent Online
There was a memorable clash of the putdowns at Sir Peter Middleton's BZW party the other evening. The lofty Oxford economist Sir Walter Eltis asked the doughty Scottish City University professor Geoffrey Wood why he was the only person he ever rings with an 081 number. 'Well, Walter,' the professor jabbed back, 'you obviously never ring the Governor of the Bank of England.' Ouch.

Unfortunate bit of timing from the United Distillers staff newspaper. Its latest issue was published on Tuesday and who should be smiling from the centre pages but Crispin Davis, the managing director who resigned the very same day.

Ihear that techniques more commonly associated with double glazing salesmen are being employed by Christopher Stockwell, chairman of the Lloyd's Names Association Working Party. This, you may recall, is the ginger group trying to strong-arm Lloyd's into coughing up enough money to meet all the members' losses in its insurance community.

Mr Stockwell has taken to cold-calling members in an effort to drum up their votes to use in proxy fashion later this month at a meeting to approve Lloyd's business plan. If Lloyd's does not come up with the goods, Mr Stockwell plans to use the votes to block the market's reforms.

Cold-calling total strangers has not impressed some members, apparently. 'Touch vulgar,' one confided.

Now that paintballing, go- karting and clay-pigeon shooting are terribly passe as corporate entertainment, what does one do to butter up one's clients? Let them loose in a 54- ton Chieftain tank, according to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, near Cambridge.

The museum, which claims to have one of the finest tank collections in the country, has found a useful source of revenue in hiring out its Chieftains and FV432 armoured personnel carriers to salesforces on incentive days.

The events involve executives swapping their pinstripes for boilersuits and guiding the tanks around cones, or up hills and through rivers for the more adept. 'It's an absolute mud bath at the moment so people are having a whale of a time,' Angus Grahame of the organiser Classic Wings said.

Presumably the tank-driving days prove more of a hit than some of the group's other concepts, which include themed dinners at the officers' mess.

The DTI will try to up the ante on British businessmen learning foreign languages tomorrow when it launches a campaign at the London Language Show at the Business Design Centre. The show, which runs until Saturday, is being sponsored by the Independent's sister paper, the Independent on Sunday.

Launching the campaign is Sir Peter Parker, the former chairman of British Rail, who is a rare example of a British businessmen with linguistic skills. He is fluent in French (he was born in France) and can apparently get by quite usefully in Japanese.

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