Click to follow
The Independent Online
EDS, the American computer consultancy that has more British government contracts than you could shake a stick at, has sent a pungent memo to staff in Bristol telling them off for snoozing at their desks at lunchtimes.

Mike Rowley, EDS senior manager, tells staff in the memo, dated 27 April, that it is vital to give customers a good impression when working on site. In the memo, leaked to Computer Weekly, Mr Rowley writes: "Maintaining a smart appearance and behaving in a professional manner at all times will have a very positive effect on our customers' perception of EDS.

"Unfortunately this can be spoilt very quickly by seeing EDS staff at their workplace playing games on computers, playing board games such as backgammon, and falling asleep at their desks during lunchtime; these practises are to cease forthwith."

Mr Rowley sounds like a right party pooper. I'm sure the Inland Revenue, the vehicle licensing centre and the Department of Social Security are perfectly happy to watch EDS staff snoring away between computerised rubbers of bridge.

There again, EDS is the company that was founded by former presidential hopeful Ross Perot, who banned staff from wearing beards. This patriarchal approach seems to have survived Mr Perot's departure from the company, which is now independent. Last year EDS management e-mailed staff in the UK with a request to nominate colleagues' jobs for a redundancy programme.

Perhaps I am being unfair. A spokeswoman for EDS stressed yesterday that the "snooze" memo was aimed at only one of the company's hundred-odd UK sites, the Bristol site which is shared by Rolls-Royce, a customer. Some of it may be "power napping," she said. "We do have some quite young graduates working there. Or it might just be that they've been out on the razzle the night before."

I know the feeling. Mr Rowley does show some leniency in his memo, however: "It is recognised that some staff may wish to occupy their time over lunch playing intellectual games in the same way that others may wish to take exercise or pursue other activities.

"There is no objection to this, but it should not be done in the work place. I recommend that such activities are undertaken using, for example, conference room facilities with the times being duly proscribed to prevent conflict."

And there we must leave the wacky world of EDS, dear reader, to return to dull, grey reality ...

WELL, not that dull. A director at Baring Asset Management (BAM) has written a cracking first novel that starts with all governments in Europe being crushed to death in a "Millennium Tower" in Brussels, and climaxes in an act of "unintentional bestiality".

What the author's boss, BAM chairman John Bolsover, will make of all this mayhem remains to be seen. The title of Mark Cohen's debut, Brass Monkeys, is a clue to the "bestiality" involved. (Needless to say, I am assured no animals were harmed in any way during the making of this book.)

Mark, director of the chairman's office, joined Barings in 1983 and finally decided he had to fulfil his lifetime ambition of penning a novel just four years ago. "I'd never written anything before. I wrote the book on the weekends and in the mornings before going to work. Then I rewrote it, twice. I managed to get Hodder & Stoughton to look at it, and they gave me a two-book deal."

The lucky blighter. Apparently the first draft featured a right-wing government mired in a sex scandal, but come the election of New Labour this had to be changed to a left wing government in a millennium disaster.

Hundreds of fund managers attended the launch party in Broadgate last night. Now it's on to the second book, says Mark. "It's about a bank that goes belly up. But its not about Barings ..."

Of course it isn't, Mark. Mind you, a whiff of bestiality in the Square Mile would liven things up.

I WAS startled by a series of explosions just outside the window of my office on the 18th floor of the Canary Wharf Tower yesterday morning, as were other journalists. "Is this supposed to be happening?" asked one ashen-faced writer, hurrying to the window.

Happily it was. Sighs of relief all round as it transpired that these were fireworks celebrating the topping out ceremony for the 20-story Citibank tower, now nearing completion at Canary Wharf in London's Docklands.

There's still no word whether Salomons will be joining the Citibank hordes in the new building, following the announcement of the Citicorp/Travelers merger. If they do, they'll find the public transport here a tight fit. The Docklands Light Railway already resembles a Japanese subway train at rush hour.

How will they cram in HSBC's 8,000 workforce when the bank moves to Canary Wharf, not to mention Societe Generale's 2,000, who are due here before the millennium. Now we hear the Jubilee Line underground extension, originally due to open last autumn and solve all Canary Wharf's transport problems, will only be completed in June 1999 - and with limited signalling.

I'm buying a hang glider ...

JOHN GUNN, the tycoon who came a cropper at British & Commonwealth in the 1980s, is now investing heavily in celebrity cooks on US telly.

Mr Gunn yesterday bought a second tranche of 10,000 shares in West 175 Enterprises in as many days. The AIM-listed company produces and distributes programmes by people like Delia Smith, Gary Rhodes, Ken Hom and Madhur Jaffrey, to name but a few. It has just signed a 17-year joint venture with BBC Worldwide to broadcast gourmet programmes on US public broadcasting. That's an awful lot of Peking duck.

Mr Gunn has also got other things on the boil (sorry), including a small hotel business and Glenchewton, an expanding importer of household goods. History does not record whether he performs in the kitchen himself.