Pembroke: Nameless evil threatens equilibrium

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The Independent Online
In this busy time for Banque National de Paris, we learn that its chairman, Michel Pebereau, likes nothing more than to relax with a chunky book by Ursula Le Guin, the fantasy fiction authoress.

Her 'major achievement in fantasy' (according to Benet's Reader's Encyclopaedia of American Literature) is the Earthsea trilogy. This concerns 'the wizard Ged in his career as archmage in the pretechnological world of islands called Earthsea'.

Eager to share Ged with the uninitiated, we combed bookshops and found The Farthest Shore, Part the Third. Its blurb confides that a 'nameless evil is at work in Earthsea. Wizards are losing their powers, chanters forgetting their songs, craftsmen no longer using their skills. The equilibrium of the Archipelago is threatened so Sparrowhawk the Archmage, accompanied by young Prince Arren, sets out to track this evil to its source.')

It is, arguably, a surprising taste for M Pebereau to have acquired . . .

Taking a leaf from the EBRD's book, Guinness Mahon Private Bank has a new look. A redesign of its offices incorporates the heraldic devices - a boar and an ostrich - of the Guinness and Mahon families respectively. Of course, as the account-holder will instantly know, the ostrich has nothing to do with a tendency to stick head in sand. Oh no. In Celtic mythology, the bank explains, the boar represents the life force and the ostrich survival.

Those who track directors' share dealings for hints on company performance might look at Steel Burrill Jones, the loss-making Lloyd's broker. Directus, an Edinburgh-based firm that monitors directors' share dealings, has noticed that on 6 April, with the share price at 234p, nine directors sold a total of 1,031,989 shares. In September, Steel Burrill reported interim pre-tax losses of pounds 3.9m (against profit of pounds 6.2m) and 86p was wiped from its 247p share price in one day. Yesterday, with the shares at 144p, 10 directors decided to re- invest in a total of 125,000.

Watch this space.