Pembroke: Unfit to carry on

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The Independent Online
SO FAREWELL then, City Gym. After 40 years, less one week, of resuscitating the health of City workers, the gym founded by Al Murray, the legendary Scots fitness expert, has succumbed to the grim reaper and gone out of business.

For this, it and its mustard-keen members must thank the combined efforts of the IRA and the gym's insurers. The gym has been out of action since the IRA blew up the Baltic Exchange, where it occupied the basement, and this week it abandoned its year-long efforts to claim insurance money.

Now we know why the insurance costs of the 1992 bomb were much less than expected. Sadly, a basement sale of Al's gleaming barbells and weights is being organised to mark the gym's demise. Anyone wanting to shape up for the beach in the privacy of their own home is well advised to jog round to St Mary Axe in the City.

WHILE stricken underwriting members of the Lloyd's insurance market may be praying to be relieved of their pounds 5bn worth of losses, they are also whispering to an alarming degree about the causes of them.

All manner of highly actionable statements are being circulated in hard copy form within the market - unsigned, of course - about leading personalities with a view to gaining a settlement.

Perhaps relief will be on hand when David Rowland, the chairman, addresses the disgruntled troops this week at the Royal Albert Hall on Lloyd's business plans.

THE GREEN shoots are greener in Eastern Europe, it seems, which is perhaps why a CBI trade mission took off for Poland yesterday. Leading the team is none other than Lord Lawson, chairman of the Central Europe Trust.

After the first such mission, in 1991, British exports to Poland doubled to pounds 600m last year, although the two events may not necessarily be related. Howard Davies, CBI director-general, said: 'With a privatisation programme moving ahead, there are many more opportunities for business to be seized.'

Some missionaries may be more lucky than others. Rolls-Royce, for example, may not return with too many orders.

WIMBLEDON 0, Royal Academy 2. Once the cream of corporate entertaining, sporting venues are losing out to art as companies take their clients to arty spots like the Academy's Summer Exhibition.

Corporate members ( pounds 5,000 a throw) are making the most of their perks, which include borrowing works of art and 'a good price' for private viewings. So good, in fact, that every evening for this year's exhibition is already booked.

However, the companies and their guests do not get preferential treatment when it comes to buying paintings. The exhibition opens to the public and to corporate entertainers on 6 June, while Friends ( pounds 25 a throw) and employees of corporate sponsors are in the picture on 2 June, when the Academy hosts a private view. In fact, the only art-lovers who get an earlier glimpse, on 1 June, are . . . the press.

But the Academy is obviously not convinced that it is satisfying all its supporters. Last week it held a seminar to ask just what it is doing right and wrong. It seems most of those present were rather shy about coming forward, but perhaps the relative safety of the questionnaires circulated will elicit more suggestions.

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