TV crews devise ways to collar Eddie George; City Diary

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The Independent Online
Eddie George is well known among television economics reporters for hiding from the broadcast media whenever he is about to say something important.

The Governor of the Bank of England would prefer to address newspaper journalists when recommending that interest rates should go up, for instance, since the journalists' musings will only be read the next day.

Eddie's cover was blown this week when a sly TV crew from BSkyB turned up on the Governor's doorstep at home and prodded some comments from him about rates.

A rival, terrestrial broadcaster that shall remain nameless then complained bitterly to the Bank about missing out. The Bank's spokesman retorted: "Well, what do you want us to do? Put an electronic dog collar on him? We can't control him, you know."

Tag the Governor. This is the way forward.

The Bank of England also has a spanking new suite of conference rooms - underground. A Bank spokesman welcomed journalists to it this week with the words: "Welcome to our new subterranean home."

It would be nice to say that the rooms previously formed a part of the bank's gold vaults, or at least a James Bond-style nuclear bunker, but the truth is more prosaic - they were used to store furniture.

"You can't tunnel through the conference room walls to a sea of gold," the spokesman adds reassuringly.

Which is just as well, since the vast majority of the UK's gold reserves, totalling $5.2bn, are stored in the Bank. So how deep do the vaults go? "A long way," says the spokesman.

Yes, but how far? "They won't even tell me."

Quite right too.

Why split Arthur Andersen into two when you can split it into five? The Hanson-like mania for unbundling seems to have taken the world's only truly global accountancy firm by storm, according to Accountancy Age.

For some years now the Chicago-based leviathan has been pondering whether to spin off the Andersen Consulting arm, which is beginning to outgrow its audit-based parent.

Now Larry Weinbach, chief executive of Andersen Worldwide, the umbrella organisation for the two sides, has junked a simple demerger.

In its place the firm may split into a number of small "market focused" units. The proposal is to be unveiled to partners at their annual meeting next month.

Sceptics my question why you would go to all the bother of building the only truly global accountancy firm and then, when you had achieved this ultimate goal, promptly go and split it up again.

These guys charge an arm and a leg telling companies how to run themselves. Perhaps Andersen needs some help of its own.

I had no idea selling life insurance could be so, well, groovy. The latest issue of Prospect, the monthly magazine from the Life Insurance Association, has an article titled: "Seeing, feeling and tuning in," by Ross McDevitt, a development manager with that well-known bunch of New Age hippies, Allied Dunbar.

The idea is that salespeople can deal more effectively with clients by observing the way their eyes move during a conversation (as illustrated above). For instance, someone in "visual" mode has three eye movements: "If you ask a visual to access some information from their past - `How did you happen to join the company?' - they will tend to look up their left (visual access) or defocus, looking directly ahead. Conversely, if you ask them to construct or describe something in the future - `Where do you see yourself in five years?' - their eyes tend to go up their right (visual construct)." Reading this, my eyes went up to the ceiling. What does this mean?