Pooh cornered by patent

BUNHILL
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NEWS that Reed Elsevier was selling its consumer publishing interests, including Methuen, owner of the AA Milne titles, got Bunhill musing about his favourite Pooh story. One that's not up for sale, I'm happy to report - it's the tale of the original Winnie the Pooh.

In the summer of 1914, one Captain Harry Colebourn, a veterinary surgeon with the Canadian Second Brigade, was travelling by rail through the wilderness on his way to England for the Great War. Stopping briefly in White River, Ontario, he met a trapper trying to sell a bear cub. Although "a bear of very small brain", the cub fetched C$20 (pounds 9), was promptly named after the captain's home town, Winnipeg, and became the regimental mascot.

One imagines Winnie enjoyed leading parades down The Mall in his military tunic, waving a baton and humming the marches. But when the regiment left for the trenches of Flanders, he was assigned to guard a pen in London Zoo. There he met Christopher Robin and his father, and the rest is literature.

But happy childhood reminiscences have a way of turning sour when confronted with the real world. White River, wanting to celebrate its most famous ursine citizen, tried to put up a statue of that "silly old bear" in the 1980s, only to find itself in a five-year battle with Disney, which owns the copyright there.

Checking my facts with London Zoo last week, I found myself thinking, in the most thoughtful way, that the paw prints in front of me looked familiar. The zoo, it turns out, unveiled its own statue of Winnie on Wednesday. "Oh Dear!" Had they had any copyright problems? None so far, but what the new owners of Reed's publishing interests might say is another story.

FANS of the new director-general of the Confederation of British Industry were raving about his intellect last week. At 39, Adair Turner is a "profound thinker", said Archie Norman, chief executive of Asda and a fellow graduate from the Mc-Kinsey & Co consultancy. But the best illustration of his thoughtfulness is known to few people outside his family.

In 1963, at the age of eight, Turner was living in East Kilbride, where his father was town planner. One day his mother, Kathleen, found him in the living room staring glumly at the television. "What's the matter?", she asked, to which the prodigy replied: "I'm terribly worried about the balance of payments."

Danka's turn

WHAT Rentokil has done for rat-catching and Dyno-Rod for drains, Danka wants to do for the equally unglamorous world of office equipment supply and servicing.

"We've launched a name-awareness campaign," explains Danka's chief executive Dan Doyle. "We aim to get our name known first, and then people will want to find out what we do."

On Thursday, Danka signed a four-year sponsorship deal, worth more than pounds 3m, with Everton Football Club, holders of the FA Cup.

No doubt the company is hoping its somewhat unconventional marketing strategy will be as fruitful on the football pitch as it has already been on the race track. When Master Oats landed the Gold Cup and Alderbrook took the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival in March, both winning jockeys sported the Danka logo on their silks.

Despite Everton's cup success, the club's valuable Premier League status has been under threat for the past two seasons. But the pounds 5m signing of the unsettled Manchester United winger Andrei Kanchelskis might introduce a little more consistency and secure Danka an even higher profile.

THE BANK of England is in the dock not just for its failure to spot anything wrong at Barings, but also the failure of its Governor to establish proper communications when news broke of the collapse on that fateful Friday evening.

Eddie George had gone off on a skiing holiday and knew nothing about the affair until he got to his chalet to receive the increasingly frantic messages to call London. In the view of many people who attended the meetings at the Bank that weekend, had the Governor been there on the Saturday (instead of just the Sunday), a rescue could have been arranged. "Why", growled the head of one of the remaining merchant banks, "didn't he carry a mobile phone like the rest of us, or at the very least phone in to the office from the airport?"

Fully booked

LAST week's Board of Banking Supervision report on the collapse marks deadline time in the Barings instant book business. Judith Rawnsley, an ex-employee with a reported pounds 50,000 advance from the publisher HarperCollins, is working all weekend to meet Tuesday's submission date for publication this September. Bunhill's former colleague turned cricket reporter, Stephen Fay, is sanguine (publication date: December) about the rush to press: "Where I've been chasing the story, I don't find anyone else's footprints." Obviously another Pooh fan.

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