Rolling up in his Merc as the Tup pubs roll out ...

People & Business

Hugh "Sooty" Corbett, the fun-loving publican who sold the Slug & Lettuce and Harvey Floorbangers chains of bars, is firing on all cylinders with his new group of Tup pubs. Having opened the City Tup in Gresham Street last month, Mr Corbett says he is keen to open another City bar, possibly in Smithfields.

He wants to expand elsewhere in London and put in an offer for a site in Shepherds Bush the other week but lost out to a rival. Another four London "Tup" pubs should open next year before Mr Corbett tries his luck outside the M25.

Between pub openings, the 50-something bon viveur is enjoying his new purchase which he describes as his "menopausal toy". It is a sleek, silver Mercedes convertible he bought last month.

"When my wife saw it she said: `Men your age either buy flashy cars or have a mistress.' I said: `I've got both.' I think she realised I was joking."

If you cannot take over a newspaper, then why not do the next best thing and appoint its editor? In Italy the worlds of big business, politics and the media have a habit of overlapping. So it proved again yesterday when Il Sole 24 Ore - the Italian equivalent of the FT - announced that its new editor is to be one Ernesto Auci, presently the head public relations man at Fiat.

Il Sole is controlled by the Italian equivalent of the Confederation of British Industry, an outfit called Confindustria. And guess which very large Italian car maker is one of the biggest movers and shakers in Confindustria. In fact, the Fiat chairman, Cesari Romiti, sits on its executive board, which was responsible for Mr Auci's appointment.

Fiat is no stranger to the press since it already owns La Stampa and is the largest single shareholder in Italy's top selling daily, Corriere della Sera.

Having its former chief spokesman as editor of the country's most prestigious financial daily is an interesting addition - akin perhaps to Sir Tim Bell taking over Richard Lambert's chair at the FT.

Those Il Sole journalists who do not like the new setup are entitled to vote on Mr Auci's appointment in the new year. But it won't do them much good. The Italian weekly Panorama, which is owned by the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, recently appointed one Juliano Ferrara as editor. Mr Ferrara failed on a show of hands on the editorial floor. But he still got the job courtesy of the fact that his last post was as minister and chief spokesman in ... er ... the Berslusconi government.

Busy round of Royal goings on in Helmsley, north Yorkshire. Both Viscount Linley and Lord Lichfield were in the town the other day for a spot of shooting on the North York moors. They were staying at The Black Swan and both took time to pop into the local second-hand bookshop.

Viscount Linley and his wife were the first to drop by. They were busy browsing when Selina Linley suddenly cried: "Darling, they've got your book", pulling out a glossy tome on "extra-ordinary furniture." The bookseller promptly asked his Royal customer to sign the thing, though I understand he is now not quite sure what to do with it.

Barely had the Linleys departed when Lord Lichfield came in. The shop had one of his titles too - a 1980s effort on beautiful women. His Lordship immediately bought it. "You can't get it any more," he explained. Are these people only interested in their own works, one wonders?

James Dyson, the entrepreneur who developed the super-soaraway Dyson vacuum cleaner, is now cleaning up with a new book. Doing A Dyson is a "how-to" tome charting the growth of the Dyson product with tips on simple little things like how to invent new technology, manufacture it and then take on the market leaders.

Dyson, who sponsored Sir Ranulph Fiennes in his recently aborted bid to walk unassisted across Antarctica, had originally published only a limited edition of the title to support his exhibition at the Design Museum in London. Then Selfridges asked if he would do a book signing at the Oxford Street store. A further print run has now been ordered and the intrepid suction merchant will be at Selfridges tomorrow to sign them.

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