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The following conversation was overheard by a colleague the other morning while he was waiting for a Waterloo and City Line train (otherwise known as The Drain).

First City gent: "It's looking like I'll have to wear the late tie today."

Second City gent: "What's that when it's at home?"

First: "It's a hideous tie that whoever is latest into the office has to put on for the day."

Second: "How odd."

First: "It gets worse. If you are more than 15 minutes late you also have to wear this gruesome pair of Royal Insurance cufflinks."

The station announcer interrupts. "Owing to a defective train, services on this line are currently subject to long delays."

The two City gents look at each other. The train finally arrives, they get on and travel to Bank where they depart and head in the direction of Guardian Royal Exchange.

All very strange.

How wonderful, how very festive, to see Michael Heseltine and John Prescott united under the same banner for once. Well, almost.

Way back in the Thatcherite eighties Hezza founded a company to raise City funds for urban regeneration, and christened it: "Inner City Enterprises".

Yesterday ICE accepted an pounds 8m bid from Enterprise, an AIM-listed company also dedicated to urban renewal, and headed by David Taylor - an old friend and part-time adviser to John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister.

Perhaps Tarzan and the former Cunard steward should take a lead from this amicable merger, and pool their ideas on resurrecting our inner cities. I'm sure they'd get on like a house on fire.

If you ever thought that receivers were the modern-day equivalent of Scrooge, then take heart from David Swaden of Leonard Curtis. Obviously Mr Swaden has completed his conversations with the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, since he has just thrown a party for the residents of a nursing home which he took over as receiver a month ago.

Although Mr Swaden wasn't actually there in his party hat, he did provide the funds for the knees-up at the Greenfields Nursing Home, Oswestry, Shropshire.

The liquidator-turned-Father Christmas tells me: "We are very keen to ensure that everyone at Greenfields feels as secure as possible about the future of the nursing home and one way of demonstrating our belief in its continuing is to provide some Christmas spirit."

Quite right too. And while Mr Swaden is looking for a buyer, the nursing home has actually increased its number of residents from 40 to 45, with a couple more expected before Christmas.

While we're on the subject of festive good works, here's a banker who's come over all environmental. Herschel Post, chief executive officer of Coutts, the Queen's bank and NatWest subsidiary, has just been elected chairman of the charity Earthwatch Europe.

Mr Post says: "Our challenge is to bring environmental literacy to those in the City." Blimey. The best of British luck, mate. I would have thought most people in the City this Yuletide would be too busy counting either their fat bonuses or their not-so-fat redundancy payments to have time for worrying about green issues.

Undaunted, Mr Post adds: "Why should a fund manager acknowledge a company's environmental performance when assessing shareholder value? What are the risks involved in the environment? ... Earthwatch believes that the City needs to recognise and support environmental responsibility within the corporate sector."

Absolutely. Oh, and I've just spotted a fleet of pigs doing loop-the- loops over Liverpool Street Station.

Remember the British Lions's superb achievements during the summer in South Africa? Reuters has sponsored a series of 15 luncheons enabling rugby fans to meet various present and former members of the Lions, culminating in a huge bash today in London for 1,100 people.

Some 7,500 fans have had the chance to vote for their "Dream Lions" team, drawing from 60 players stretching back to the 1970s. All 15 players selected will attend today's bunfight. And the winners are: full-back, JPR Williams; right wing, Gerald Davies; inside-centre, Mike Gibson; outside-centre, Jeremy Guscott; left wing, David Duckham; fly half, Barry John; scrum half, Gareth Edwards; No 8, Mervyn Davies; open-side flanker, Fergus Slattery; blind-side flanker Mike Teague; second-row No 5, Gordon Brown; second- row No 4, Willie John McBride; tight-head prop, Graham Price; hooker, Peter Wheeler; and loose-head prop, Fran Cotton.

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