SPREAD betting firms always pride themselves on having a finger on the pulse, so it’s a bleak lookout for Gordon Brown if general election seat spreads yesterday were anything to go by.

Brown (as even strictly cloistered Martians will know by now) yesterday committed a political gaffe of monolithic proportions, simpering to the UK’s newest celebrity, old age pensioner Gillian Duffy, before slagging her off as “bigoted” in the car.

Just a short five minutes afterwards, the faux-pas had cost Labour dearly on extrabet’s general election seats market, sending the party’s spread down from 221-226 expected seats to just 211-216. (In case you’re wondering, the Tories netted a seven-seat rise out of the event and the Lib Dems a two-seat boost.)
Mind, that’s got to be only the start of the ramifications for Brown, after he compounded the embarrassing blunder yesterday with a cringeworthy rescue attempt, turning up at Duffy’s house to apologise and describing himself as a “penitent sinner” with what looked like a triumphant smirk on his face. The Capitalist can’t imagine where the grin came from, since our Prime Minister has never been known for his jollity, even in the happiest of circumstances. Then again, perhaps it was just a bad case of wind, brought on by all the stress.

Predictably, there was much hilarity in the City yesterday as readers of this column digested a sky-high £29,000 bill racked up by a group of eleven naughty financiers in strip club Secrets at Tower Bridge.

I hear one fund manager in particular thought he would have a bit of fun by carefully snipping out the copy of the receipt from the paper and handing it to his chief executive as a joke, to test whether such practices are once again de rigueur throughout the City.

“You should have seen the look on his face!” he chuckles.

Clearly, such extravagance is still reserved only for the most special of occasions…

A cautionary tale reaches The Capitalist to demonstrate the potential consequences if Greece really does end up kicked out of the euro because of its debt woes.

Of course, if that scenario does occur, the country would have to have its own notes and coins – and since it’s rather unlikely that they’ve got stashes of drachma hidden away in vaults somewhere, those notes and coins may well have to be Greek euros.

With that in mind, perhaps its worth bearing in mind some considerable jitters over on the continent, particularly in Germany, where a chum of The Capitalist’s recently found himself stranded after a cabbie refused to accept his (Greek) euros as payment for his journey across Berlin.

We all know that when a bank gets seized by the authorities, valuable corporate art is automatically handed over to pay back the creditors – Picassos, Damien Hirsts, that sort of thing.

But The Capitalist chances across an altogether more bizarre collection of valuables from a miniscule bank in the US which was closed down last year by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Though the bank only had a couple of branches, it seems to have been awfully fond of baubles and trinkets – since the assets being auctioned off at present by the FDIC include a collection of tiny 17th century “Netsuke”, or Japanese ivory sculptures, ranging in worth up to a tidy $75,000 (£49,347). Is it any wonder the institution isn’t kicking around any more?

A hearty slap on the back for Deloitte’s valiant first football team, the Tristars, which fought its way to victory in a London-wide Sunday league recently.

Deloitte became the first corporate team to win the event in its 47-year history, after it came from behind to seal a 2-1 victory in injury time.

After battling through eight rounds and 146 teams, captain Carnegie Smyth said the team had an exceptional year. Congratulations to them – and to player Robert Ledger, an assistant manager in Deloitte’s audit team, who was named player of the tournament.

A date for the diaries of all the speed demons in the City: Wednesday 5 May, when Old Spitalfields Market is playing host to a rather bizarre event.

I hear the market is being transformed into a “Grand Prix race village” for the day, though this has nothing to do with cars – instead, its designed to raise awareness of the Powerboat P1 SuperStock Championship, a powerboat championship which takes place in the summer.

Given the lack of sea front in the City, the organisers are having to make to with a cinematic “tour” of the race action, while I’m assured the event will be festival-like in atmosphere with a DJ, lunchtime competition and, of course, the requisite pit girl hotties. What’s not to like?