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Pembroke: Written in the stars

HOROSCOPE lovers get the chance to apply the arcane art of astrology to the corporate scene today when a new book called Money and the Markets hits the shelves. Subtitled 'an astrological guide', the tome has been penned jointly by Graham Bates and Jane Chrzanowska. Mr Bates is a former fund manager at Standard Chartered who was involved in an attempt last year to run a corporate astrology service on Reuters screens in the City. Perhaps forgetting to read their own horoscopes, the consortium personnel fell out with each other before the service began.

Now Mr Bates is back with his book. With chapters headed 'Predicting the economy' and 'When is the best time to buy and sell?', it might make lucrative reading. But the best bits are in the company profiles at the back. Studies of Polly Peck, Virgin and Amstrad are full of pronouncements such as 'the natal Saturn-Pluto trine suggests Polly Peck had the ability to make major changes in its structure'. And 'Virgin's flights were 99.99 per cent full despite a transit of Saturn over the natal Mercury.'

It's a cracker. But what do the stars say about the book's prospects? 'It seems quite a good time to launch it,' says Mr Bates. 'There is a new moon today and the beginning of a cycle is a good time to start a new venture.'

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SIR TERENCE CONRAN's wound over his exit from Storehouse, the Habitat to BhS retailer, continues to fester. In a recent talk in front of an audience of invited managers, he describes Michael Julien, the chief executive he appointed, as 'paranoid' and City analysts as 'spotty youths'.

The comments were made in a talk in London on the importance of good recruitment. Recalling the dark days of the late 1980s, when everyone down to your local newsagent seemed to be launching a bid for Storehouse, Sir Terence said: 'We tried to defend our position, trudging around the institutions, seeing the same spotty youths again and again . . .

'There was endless speculation in the newspapers. Michael was getting absolutely paranoid. He believed the offices were being bugged and the waste paper should be burnt and people were following me in a car and girls were being sent to seduce me.'

REGIONAL stockbroker Wise Speke has appointed its second female director. Claire Lambert, who is 31, will develop institutional sales from the firm's Newcastle office. According to Ms Lambert, who says that the other woman director is even younger than her, companies in the North-east and Yorkshire are picking up nicely. 'We've got quite a few quoted companies up here,' she says. 'It's not just Vaux.'

THE BRITISH palate remains as untutored as ever. A rip- roaring survey on the cheese market by the Economist Intelligence Unit says that boring old cheddar still accounts for 56 per cent of UK sales. And research revealed 'a depressing inability among consumers to distinguish Lancashire, Caerphilly and Wensleydale from the cheaper and better- known white Cheshire.'

THE TAKE OUR DAUGHTERS to Work day at the end of April has thrown up more than the usual suspects. The scheme, which is intended to widen the career opportunities of school-leaving girls, has already attracted the likes of The Body Shop and Midland Bank.

But according to the organisers, the Office of Public Management, the Bank of England is to play host on 28 April to a group of partially sighted girls. And the millionaires at Goldman Sachs are planning to take another group and give them a day in the dealing room. Given the colourful language that is commonplace in most City dealing rooms, one can only hope that Goldman will issue orders for traders to be on their best behaviour.