YEARNING for an unusual extra-curricular hobby to brighten up your working week? Addicted to adrenaline? The Capitalist might have chanced upon just the thing for more adventurous City types.
Ian Barbour is best known for his position as director of financial printing group Millnet, where he runs the financial document services operations. Yet he’s just been nominated for a new and rather different role – as a board member of the British Bobsleigh Association (BBA).
Barbour, you see, is a keen enthusiast of all the various perilous methods man has devised to throw himself down an icy track – from luge (feet-first, one-man bobsleighs) to skeleton (the same, but going headfirst) and regular two- or four-man bobsleighs.
If his nomination to the board is approved at the BBA’s next general meeting, he’ll be tasked with encouraging membership of the association, and what better place to start than the City?
There’s already a small and growing base of bobsleigh devotees in the Square Mile – this column has previously featured the escapades of the likes of Bird & Bird’s Alistair Crellin and Richard Pavry at Jupiter – and Barbour would like there to be a lot more.
MIND OVER MATTER
To Sotheby’s on New Bond Street on Monday evening for a private dinner and auction hosted by Krug champagne, where some of the sharpest minds in the business, political, art and entertainment worlds were auctioned off for charity.
Those “up for sale” included Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis (who fetched £5,000); PR and advertising doyen Lord Tim Bell (£6,000); designer Anya Hindmarch, and departing Marks and Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose (£7,000 apiece); chef Marco Pierre White (£8,000); and Lord Mandelson, actor Kevin Spacey and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason (all for £9,000).
Among the moneyed guests attending the dinner was one David Ross, the flamboyant co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, who shelled out his cash to pick the brains of both Mason and Mandelson.
After Ross’ high-profile resignation from Carphone a few years ago – when he admitted using his shareholdings as security on hefty personal loans without notifying the board – perhaps he’s looking for some snippets of sage advice from Mandy, the “comeback king” of politics?
Greg Dyke, former BBC director-general and chair of the British Film Council, was at the Hospital Club last night for a Penfolds Vintage Years event designed to inspire budding entrepreneurs.
Dyke picked as his “vintage year” 1991 – the year he became chief executive of London Weekend Television, which he described as “full of intrigue, risk, drama [and] great comradeship”, and during which he tripled the share price to £3.
But he was equally happy to chat afterwards about the trickier years of his career – and how they relate to the problems encountered at the moment by ITV’s flailing revamped Daybreak show.
“When I first joined TV-am back in the Eighties, it had no money, no viewers, the chief executive had resigned and most of the presenters had as well,” Dyke said.
“Daybreak is emphatically not in that position – and they should be grateful they’re not there. What I’ve learnt is that there comes a moment when you hit rock bottom and it stops – and then it’s crunch time, that’s when they’ve got to grasp the bull by the horns.?There’s no secret to it... it’s just hard graft.”
Sage advice indeed for much-hyped presenters Christine Bleakley (right) and Adrian Chiles, who this week were hit by the latest drop in their viewing figures to just 530,000.
A handy guide for those who’ve made it something of a life mission to discover the finest drinking holes the Square Mile has to offer: an enterprising chap, John Coates, has put together an alternative Tube map-style diagram of all the pubs in the area.
According to the map, available online at JJM Designs, there are no less than 124 boozers in the Square Mile – from the taverns of Fleet Street up to the Butcher’s Hook and Cleaver and the Rising Sun towards the Barbican, over to the George and the cosy nooks of Liverpool Street, to the old-school charmers of the Bank and Monument area, including the Ship and the Lamb Taverns.
Ping! In comes an email courtesy of Julia Streets, founder of the eponymous financial services marketing and communications agency, to flag up an event in aid of Children in Crisis on 16 November.
The event itself is a one-off date of working mother, columnist and author Mrs Moneypenny’s sell-out Edinburgh Fringe show, but Streets herself, I note, is also performing as a stand-up comedienne.
Digging deeper, it appears Streets, adviser to the likes of Chi-X and Instinet – is something of an established name in the comedy world, having also performed at the Fringe in the past in Edinburgh and Henley on Thames. Her show, Streets in the City, is an observational take on corporate life – though she insists no clients “have been harmed in the making of the show”.
The Capitalist bets they’ll be watching nervously, in any case.