Training for the North Pole is a tyring business

People & Business
There are so many expeditions to the North Pole setting off around now that soon the top of the world will resemble a BT agm.

The latest is Julian Hanson Smith, the 35-year-old managing director of Financial Dynamics, a firm of City pr people.

His team, which will drag sledges 150km from the 89th Parallel to the Pole, consists of: Charles Shaw, managing director of Morgan Lovell, an office refurbishment company; Richard Hickson, a self-employed management consultant; Joe Meacham, who plays bass guitar in the London production of Grease; and Pen Hadow, of the Polar Exploration Company, Somerset, who will guide the expedition.

"We're aiming to raise pounds 100,000 for the charity Whiz Kids, which seeks to give mobility to handicapped children," says Mr Hanson Smith. "When we get to the North Pole, James Heath, who's 11 and confined to a wheelchair by cerebral palsy, will be flown in to meet us. That'll be on 21 April, the Queen's birthday. We'll take a Union Jack with us, and a rifle, although I'm told polar bears don't go that far north."

Mr Hanson Smith has been training by running around a field with a tyre tied behind him. "My wife can't believe it," he says. Neither can I.

There are sparks flying at Christian Salvesen, the transport group, as it prepares for next week's egm to vote on a special dividend. The management face strong opposition over the payout from the Salvesen family, who hold 30 per cent of the company. Since 44 per cent of the company's share register consists of private shareholders, the Salvesen family has embarked on a phone campaign to put their case to these individuals.

Thus it was this week that the mother of Chris Masters, Salvesen's chief executive, received a call encouraging her to vote against the special dividend. Will she support her son? We'll have to wait for the egm.

As BZW commences its move to Canary Wharf, I hear it has poached most of neighbouring Morgan Stanley's mail room staff.

Two people from the Morgan Stanley mail room left some time ago to set up their own company, and when they won the contract to run BZW's room they took another couple out of the American bank. Sounds like Morgan had better batten down its tea ladies.

Gavin Strang, shadow agriculture minister, has promised that Labour will safeguard the future of the British pinta delivered to the door. Does this have anything to do with the fact Northern Foods, whose chairman, Chris Haskins, is an informal adviser to Labour, delivers more than 1.5 million doorstep pintas every day? Mr Haskins is being touted as a possible Labour peer if Tony Blair's lot get in.

A Northern spokesman says: "I don't think there is [a connection]. Chris is a good friend of Gavin Strang, but Labour have been saying this [about deliveries] for years."

You can't get much worse luck than Ronson, the maker of cigarette lighters. In January 1996 its Newcastle factory went up in flames, knocking a pounds 1m hole in the company's accounts.

It wasn't, however, due to over-zealous testing of lighters. In fact, the fire started in another factory. The flames leap-frogged one factory and landed on the Ronson premises, where lighter fluid was being stored.

A Ronson spokesman said: "Until then the fire looked containable, but when it reached the lighter fluid it looked like the Gulf War."

The Inland Revenue is promoting its self-assessment scheme on 3 million Chinese and Indian takeaway lids. The "Adlids" carry the merry caption: "Don't get stuffed by Self Assessment."

When Labour's Brian Donohue asked the Chancellor Ken Clarke to justify this novel promotion, the noted gourmand replied: "According to research, 60 per cent of self-employed manual trades people... regularly eat Chinese takeaways."

Watch out for "New Labour, New Danger" on your next carton of prawn- fried rice.