Pembroke: Tarmac in high spirits

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The Independent Online
It's nice to know that ghosts do not dwell exclusively in creaky houses and crumbling castles. Tarmac Construction appears to have a couple hanging out on the tenth floor of its headquarters in Birch Street, Wolverhampton - a brick box built in 1976. The sleuths from Contract Journal have received phone calls from employees with tales of two see-through visitors - one dressed as a site worker, the other as a monk.

It seems more than possible that both sightings are genuine: a worker was killed when the building was being put up, while a number of monasteries were destroyed in the area in about 1400. It would be intriguing to know what the two spooks have to talk about.

A spokesman for Tarmac said he could not confirm the existence of the ghosts, but added: 'I don't think anyone can.'

Heavy drinkers are rumoured to be hanging on to their bar stools waiting for a milder version of Glaxo's Zantac drug to be approved for over-the-counter sale. We offer no guarantee, but the story is that a Nurofen the night before and a glug of Zantac the morning after is the best way to avoid a hangover.

Intriguing to see that Reg Key, managing director of Chubb Fire, was last week named as 'Britain's top boss'. And not just because Chubb employs a Mr Key. His secretary nominated him for his 'sheer enthusiasm' and 'will to win'. Surely these are precisely the management qualities which make the lives of thousands of other secretaries utter hell?

Sir James Birrell, who steps down as chief executive of Halifax Building Society this month, should have known better when Halifax bought a load of estate agencies in the late Eighties. He tells Mortgage Finance Gazette that his first job when he left school at 16 was with an estate agent, for whom he spent three weeks collecting rent from downtown property in Armley, Leeds. 'I did not see myself as a sharp little estate agent . . . so I left,' he says.

The experience should have put him off the sharp little fellows for life, but it clearly did not - probably something to do with his having 'a certain objectivity and rational view of life'. The price of the error: a pounds 14.8m loss from Halifax's estate agencies last year.

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