Pandora: Persimmon boss puts a hold on lavish wedding plans for daughter

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The Independent Online

When Britain's biggest house builder, Persimmon, announced last week that it was shedding up to 2,000 jobs, city experts cited it as final proof that a recession was well and truly on our doorstep.

So in these belt-tightening times, it's at least cheering to hear that the company's top brass are trying to deal with the matter as sensitively as possible.

Last week, Persimmon's charismatic founder and chairman, Duncan Davidson, was preparing to send out invitations to the wedding of his daughter, Rose, which is due to take place in September.

Davidson, who was a page boy at the Queen's coronation, was planning to host a lavish bash at his family's country estate in Northumberland.

But after the company was forced to implement the recent round of redundancies, the family has now decided to scale the celebrations down.

A number of guests who were expecting to be asked have since been politely disinvited, and the event will now be a much smaller gathering of family and close friends.

"The Davidsons felt that with all that's happening at the company it wouldn't be appropriate to have a huge party," says a friend. "It wouldn't have been very sensitive, and more than anything they thought the whole thing would appear hypocritical.

"Everyone understands, of course, it's just a case of bad timing."

Hollywood has Rupe spooked

Rupert Penry-Jones's career has so far been confined to the small screen.

I fear that's where it may remain. The heart-throb says he was once considered for Pirates of the Caribbean, but wasn't interested.

"OK, it's a big Hollywood movie and might have opened doors, but no one gives a toss," he tells the Radio Times.

On auditioning for X-Men 2, he adds: "I was lucky not to get it. I'd have been freezing, up at 3am being painted blue, then waiting around for hours to be told I wasn't needed."

June's a hit single in the political arena

June Sarpong's attempt to become a serious player in the political world has been coming along nicely.

The presenter has appeared on Question Time and The Daily Politics, and recently launched a website aimed at young women, called Politics and the City.

Still, it's not all been plain sailing. I hear she recently split from long-term beau Kit Hawkins, an entertainment manager who looks after the rock band Keane.

"They're still on good terms," I'm told. "Kit even went to the launch party for the website last week."

Arms and the Tory man

David Cameron yesterday pitched up at the first day of the Farnborough Air Show.

His appearance has rankled with anti-arms group Campaign Against Arms Trade, who say the event is a showcase for the latest military aircraft. They reckon it's a bit much for the Tory leader to promise a crackdown on knife crime, whilst attending what is primarily an arms fair.

"Does Cameron see no contradiction in condemning violent crime while touring an arms fair?

"What message is he sending to the young people he is trying to warn away from knives?", a spokesman says.

Business quips

The BBC's chirpy business editor, Robert Peston, told listeners to yesterday's Today programme that banking crises only happen when he's away on holiday.

The former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, Sir Howard Davies, retorted: "They actually only crystallise when he comes back.

"There's a lesson there for the BBC I think."

What on Earth can he mean by this?

Portillo's a real heavyweight

Michael Portillo continues to be fascinated as to how the other half live.

The moneybags former Tory MP was spotted out in Nottingham on Saturday evening, mixing with the hoi-polloi at "Enter the Rough House", a cage fighting tournament held in the city's Harvey Haddon Sports Centre.

Portillo doesn't strike you as your average "cage fighting" enthusiast, but apparently the visit was all part of his research for a new film he's doing on violence for BBC programme Horizon.

"I've surprised myself," he told the boxing website "It was all very absorbing. It's interesting really because the more violent it was the more absorbing it became."

Asked whether he would return, however, Portillo replied: "We'll see. Probably not." It's not the first time Portillo has been prepared to suffer for his art. Back in 2003, he agreed to be filmed by the BBC working as a check-out boy at a branch of Asda in a working class suburb of Merseyside.