Pembroke: Seven storeys of contact

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FED UP WITH the Garrick? Tired of White's? Then perhaps the new Capital Club of London might suit. This, presumably, is the hope of the Hong Kong-based Capital Club Company, which announced its first European venture yesterday in London.

The new private members' club will open next summer and is aimed at businessmen and women. Honorary patrons include the Earl of Gowrie and Baroness O'Cathain. Sir Peter Parker, the former head of British Rail, will be the first chairman.

Located on the site of the old Gresham Club in a grade two listed building, refurbishments are going ahead to turn the building into a top-notch dining club. Spreading over seven floors, it will include a wine bar, grill room and oriental room (featuring eastern design rather than sweet and sour pork on the menu).

All this does not come cheap. Founding membership costs pounds 1,000 plus monthly subs of pounds 45.

'But it really will be a business club,' a club spokesman said. 'We expect people to make business contacts there.'

WE LEARN that on John Major's trip to Japan last month, where he faced more questions about his leadership than about trade, the businessmen who accompanied him seemed to spend rather a lot of time fussing about their flight tickets.

The stellar cast, including Howard Davies of the CBI, Lord Prior of GEC and Sir Ralph Robins of Rolls-Royce, first found that they were obliged to buy first-class tickets but ended up flying business class with British Airways.

Consequently the main topic of conversation on the flight to Tokyo was not business matters like Gatt or opportunities in China, but how many Air Miles they would be able to claim.

That was not the end of it for Mr Davies. The CBI director- general was planning to fly back from Seoul via Hong Kong.

Boarding his BA flight at Hong Kong, he found a large Filipina lady occupying his seat. Mr Davies was still pondering his next move when who should board the plane but Sir Colin Marshall, BA's chairman.

After a quick exchange of good- natured banter Mr Davies found himself miraculously upgraded and flying back first class.

Now how many Air Miles did he claim, we wonder?

NEWS OF another all-American 'personal development trainer' swinging into town to impart great wisdom on how we can take more control of our lives.

Tony Robbins, 33, six feet seven tall, and so rich he probably keeps a Cadillac just to ferry his wallet around, is gracing these shores to give three seminars and a little pep talk at the House of Commons on how to improve people's perception of Britain.

The former janitor and door-to- door salesman, who can command up to dollars 100,000 for a presentation, covers topics like 'having happy relationships' and 'being in charge of your own emotions' (price: pounds 179 for a one-day seminar, pounds 429 for the full three days).

This man is so big he even has a warm-up act. Tonight one of his top trainers, Roger Salam, will give a glimpse of personal fulfilment for just pounds 10, hoping presumably people then sign up for the real McCoy.

NATWEST BANK certainly believes in complying with the Cadbury Report. Yesterday's appointment of Sir Sydney Lipworth, former chairman of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, as a non-executive deputy chairman swelled NatWest's board to 20 directors including 13 non-executives.

Sir Sydney, who set up Allied Dunbar with Sir Mark Weinberg, will find himself squeezed around the board table alongside Sir Ian MacLaurin, chief executive of Tesco, Sir Michael Angus, chairman of Whitbread and president of the CBI, Sir John Banham, former director general of the CBI and Sir Edwin Nixon, the former chairman of IBM.

In a way Sir Sydney will be teaming up with past contacts. A former QC, he was a contemporary of NatWest's chairman, Lord Alexander, himself a lawyer. We are told the two knew each other professionally rather than socially.

THE BANK OF ENGLAND has come over all ornithological. It has entered its printing works in Loughton, Essex, in a bird-watching competition sponsored by the British Trust for Ornithology and Zeneca, the ICI offshoot.

The point of the contest, which ICI, Zeneca, British Gas and Welsh Water have all entered, is to spot as many different types of bird as possible using the site so the trust can work out how popular business sites are for birds.

The Bank of England was not sounding over-confident of winning yesterday. 'There are trees around there, so I suppose there must be some birds,' an unenthusiastic bank spokesman said.

(Photograph omitted)

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