JOHN Hofmeister, the former president of Shell, has been busy over the past few weeks, sticking his oar in to help former rival BP traverse the oil-slicked waters of the post-spill Gulf.

Hofmeister has been a staunch proponent of using giant supertankers to suck up the oil for processing – arguing that the same system was used with great success in an enormous oil spill in the Arabian gulf many years ago. (Apparently, restrictions on reporting in the area meant that said disaster never reached the papers, though if Hofmeister is to be believed, it was around 700m gallons – the biggest spill the world has ever known.)

And how, you may ask, did the ex-Shell bigwig decide to get in touch with the top brass at BP in the first place to share his big idea?

I hear it was just like everyone else – by writing to the service set up by BP so that members of the public could give the company their penny’s worth.

Frankly, The Capitalist is impressed that his missive even got through to the right people, given the 30,000 responses the company is supposed to have received so far…

A fine excuse for City A.M. to puff out its chest, following the fourth annual Rank Group City Poker Classic tournament at the end of last week.

Around 80 players from the likes of Merrill Lynch, Santander, Investec, RBS and PwC turned up for the Texas Hold’em event at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino, paying a £25 entry fee to Marie Curie Cancer Care. Whittled down to the final table, who should take the honours but City A.M.’s features writer – and poker dark horse – Tim Barber. A fine effort!

Speaking of congratulations, I hear they’re also in order for banking grandee and Yell Group chairman Bob Wigley, who’s been looking unusually trim of late.

Wigley has lost a whopping three stone since his last annual medical, at which he decided it was time for him to get healthy and slim down.

“The amusing thing is that it seems to have inspired quite a few friends, who have always been slimmer than me and now aren’t, to follow suit!” laughs the newly-svelte Wigley, pictured supporting City A.M.’s inaugural awards on page 20. Competition always has been rife in the City.

A second chance popped up on Friday to hear outgoing M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose’s selection on Desert Island Discs, for those who missed it last year. In case the dapper chap needs to supplement last year’s £4.3m pay bonanza in retirement, the programme throws up one idea – apparently, Rose keeps a confidential “nutters” file of all the crazy and funny letters he receives, and he’s not ruled out publishing a book of them one day. Should bring in a few bob, I suppose.