Tesco hogs the limelight by proving pigs can fly

City Diary
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The Independent Online
Staff at the Bank of England can testify that pigs do fly - if only six feet above the ground. Tesco heralded its plunge into financial services with a 25-foot inflatable piggy bank tethered outside the Bank in Threadneedle Street.

The people at NatWest - who are in effect running the Clubcard Plus initiative - diplomatically got permission from the powers that be in the Bank before the porker was inflated.

This is only the start for a nationwide "Hog Tour" of all Tesco's 545 stores for the piggy bank, starting with the group's Cheshunt, Hertfordshire head office today. For those of a certain age it brings back memories of Pink Floyd's first tour featuring the "Wall" album, during which the band tethered a similar inflatable pig over its gigs. "Ours is a cuddly pig," a Tesco's spokeswoman points out. "The Pink Floyd one was a bit ferocious."

The City is in the grip of Euro '96 fever. This week the Save the Children's Human Table Football tournament will feature over 50 City teams battling it out for supremacy in the Broadgate Arena.

The games will be blown-up versions of the pub game of table football, but with people taking the part of the rotating plastic players. Later in the month teams from the London insurance market are taking part in a seven-a-side tournament, "1996 European Football Challenge", organised by footie-loving solicitors Paisner & Co. The teams have yet to be finalised, but should include insurers Munich RE (for Germany), Scor UK (France), Assitalia (Italy) and Lloyds syndicate managers Brockbank (England).

Stakis chief executive David Michels has been comforting himself with one piece of good news, despite the hotels and casinos group's less than brilliant results. Under the Home Office's proposals for casino deregulation, Draconian bans on any form of advertising by gambling halls will be eased - slightly.

At the moment casinos are not even allowed to list themselves in phone books, let alone advertise in newspapers. The consultation document on deregulation recommends that casinos should henceforward be listed in phone books, in-flight magazines and hotel rooms. This may be pretty minimal, Mr Michels admits, but at least it's a start. As he says, "It's difficult to run a business your customers are not allowed to find."

The United States has always prided itself on championing freedom of speech, but it takes a pretty dim view of the financial probity of journalists if its latest visa requirements are anything to go by.

According to the United States embassy in London, journalists wanting to apply for a visa to visit the US must pay a fee first: "You should take the enclosed paying-in slip to the nearest Barclays Bank and pay the fee IN CASH." Cripes, they must have had a few dud cheques in the past.

To have a reasonable chanceof winning a share of the lottery jackpot over 60 years of playing you should buy 1,000 tickets a week according to John Haigh, a Reader in maths and statistics at the University of Sussex, in a recent article for RSS News.

New targets: Thames TV is finally cutting its roots with the Teddington Lock TV studios in west London. Parent Pearson is close to selling the site and is moving all its UK television operations to an empty office block just north of Oxford Street, on Tottenham Court Road.

Thames, maker of such classic series as The Sweeney (above) Grundy, ACI and Select will all move to central London as soon as the Teddingtion deal is signed. Sources say that there are a dozen parties interested in buying the site, four or five of whom would keep Teddington as a television production centre.