Pembroke: Who minds the gap?

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The Independent Online
NEXT TIME you travel on the Northern Line via the curvaceous Bank station and hear the 'Mind the Gap' mantra, you may like to meditate upon this extract from a new book, also called Mind the Gap: 'Timothy (our hero) was struck by the strangeness of the message. It took on a metaphysical note. Perhaps it was also referring to the gap that lay at death between life on earth and heaven: the gap into which sinful souls could disappear.' Ahem.

MIND THE GAP, the story of an Eighties takeover bid, is being trailed as a semi-autobiographical work by a Jeremy Miles, although this is not his real name. 'Clearly, large parts of the novel are based on real life experience,' says 'Mr Miles'. Since the aforementioned Timothy is managing director of the target company, an engineering firm, who tries to arrange an MBO at the same time as indulging in a passionate extramarital fling in Paris at the same time as being racked with Catholic guilt, it's not surprising that Mr Miles 'prefers to keep my identity secret'. (You could argue that the revelation that the Timothy/Miles character is baffled by the terms 'due diligence' and 'offers going unconditional' is far more damaging.)

We're told the author was the chairman of a PLC which was the subject of a takeover bid from a foreign predator. The recession in the early Nineties removed the profit from his old company. When the acquiring company sued him and his managing director for pounds 60m in an attempt to recover their investment, his personal assets were frozen and he faced personal bankruptcy.

We also know he's supremely self-confident. Despite the fact that Mind the Gap is only published on 22 April (Duckworth, pounds 14.99), he's already got the sequel - Close the Gap - in the bag. Any suggestions?

IN A PRE-EASTER imaginative flurry, Northern Line train indicator boards last week not only boasted a 'No smoking' command in three languages, but also provided a quick weather forecast - mild, overcast, possibility of some drizzle on Good Friday, and the like.

What, asked a cynical passenger, will London Underground offer when there are real delays of the type that caused the Northern Line to be dubbed the Misery Line? War & Peace perhaps?

OCCASIONALLY, analysts startle even themselves with a passing spark of wit. An example is the headline on Carr Kitcat & Aitken's recent note on Coats Viyella: 'Right Said Thread'. Which proves that someone there watches Top of the Pops - unless they were thinking of Bernard Cribbins' hit of 1962.

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