BARCLAYS has brought in the big guns. Actually, it’s just the one gun, but they don’t come much bigger – Mark Penn, the American political pollster-cum-public relations guru who numbers both the Clintons, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Microsoft boss Bill Gates among his powerful clients.<br /><br />Penn is the worldwide chief executive of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, president of the polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, and author of Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, one of those best-selling books that Americans keep on writing.<br /><br />The remit Barclays has given Penn is to produce research about the perception of banks in the wake of the crisis. Aside from the fact that establishing the general tide of anti-bank sentiment shouldn’t prove to be too tricky, The Capitalist is intrigued as to the sort of advice Penn could dole out to help the bank escape its share of hostility. Then again, we are talking about the man who helped Clinton emerge from the Monica Lewinsky scandal as a loveable, journalist-freeing hero. Sorting out this banking malarkey should be a doddle.<br /><br /><strong>SOGGY WICKET</strong><br />Former Northern Rock boss Adam Applegarth may have lucked out with the ascension of Sir Fred Goodwin to the position of the most hated banker in Britain, pushing him into the background, but it doesn’t seem to have done his batting average much good.<br /><br />Applegarth, you see, is quite the cricketer in his spare time and plays for his local Sunderland Cricket Club’s 2nd XI.<br /><br />But despite having a whole load more time to practice recently, his game doesn’t seem to have improved much: after not playing a single game in 2007, his batting average last year rose to 38 runs per game, over seven separate games.<br /><br />This year, however, online stats for the club reveal Applegarth has played eight games so far this season with just an 18.4 run average.All that practice obviously wasn’t as productive as he might have hoped.<br /><br /><strong>FULL BLOOM</strong><br />Forget Jamie’s Italian: come the autumn, Canary Wharfers will have another new haunt in which to kick back their heels. Yep, now that the first few days of excitement chez Oliver have passed, the place is buzzing with anticipation for new Japanese eatery Roka, a sister for the popular Charlotte Street branch, which is opening this autumn in the Churchill Place Mall. I hear the restaurant’s soon-to-be neighbours are particularly enthused at the idea – particularly Japanese bank Nomura, which is currently mulling over the ingredients for a cocktail to be named in its honour.<br /><br />May The Capitalist suggest a variation on the ever-chic vodka martini, perhaps with a lotus flower petal thrown in for decoration?<br /><br /><strong>EBB AND FLOW</strong><br />Back for an update on proceedings down on the Isle of Wight, where the annual Cowes Week regatta is in full swing.<br /><br />I hear Carphone Warehouse tycoon Charles Dunstone’s string of victories continues unchecked – yesterday, his boat “Rio” won the New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup, after having also come first in various races in his class every single day since the start of the week.<br /><br />A couple of financiers who haven’t enjoyed such luck, however, are Richard Ward and Luke Savage, respectively chief executive and finance director of insurer Lloyds of London. The seafaring pair failed to complete their race yesterday in their boat “Lutine Belle” due to lack of wind, though The Capitalist is sure they managed to drown their sorrows afterwards with a touch of that renowned Cowes hospitality.<br /><br /><strong>ARTISTIC LICENCE</strong><br />It seems the City really has become the new darling of the art world. The latest artist to use corporate suits as inspiration is one Jane Goodwin, currently exhibiting in the Jagged Art gallery, off Devonshire Street in the West End.<br /><br />Goodwin’s stark “white suit” fibreglass sculptures depict headless City traders in a variety of poses, which are supposed to bring to mind a generic, universal picture of “the highly paid prop traders with their frantic edginess, whose actions can lead to financial and personal meltdown”. Potent stuff.<br /><br /><strong>STYLE GURUS</strong><br />And finally, a note on the finance world’s impressive contribution to this year’s Vanity Fair Best Dressed List.<br /><br />The US magazine added a number of businessmen to this year’s list: alongside US president Barack Obama and actors Daniel Craig and Brad Pitt on the roster are Quadrant Capital Advisors managing director Alejandro Santo Domingo, private equity investor Ogden Phipps II and even philanthropic hedge fund boss Arpad Busson.<br /><br />Looks like Arki might have been stealing style tips from his fiancée, Hollywood actress Uma Thurman.