BUSINESS IS BOOMING FOR TABLE DANCE KING

TABLE-dancing mogul Stephen Less may have made his fortune building up Secrets, London’s largest chain of lap dancing clubs, but he’s certainly no one-trick pony.

I hear Less has been a rather busy man of late, broadening his horizons to include no less than four satellite business interests. The first – and most austere – of the bunch is a recruitment company, Harrington Starr, which launched a few weeks ago, specialising in IT and run by his son-in-law Tony Babb.

With the serious stuff out of the way, Less is also returning to his more glamorous roots with a trio of forays into the world of showbusiness. He is already well underway with a feature film script following the true story of a couple in the Sixties trying to leave Russia for a better life in the West – and isn’t short of lofty ambitions for the project, since he tells me he’s planning to pitch it to super-director Steven Spielberg.

On the side is a game show for which Less claims to have secured interest from his “good friend Chris Tarrant”, and also a West End musical which he is writing despite admitting he has never played an instrument except for “the piano with one hand”.

“Well, Lionel Bart wrote tons of songs, and he couldn’t play anything either,” Less grumbles, defensively. “I’m actually very musical.”

Turns out the club tycoon has something else in common with Bart, too – he played the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it parts of a policeman and a tramp in the 1968 film version of “Oliver!”. It all makes for a rather unusual CV, doesn’t it?

ON THE HIGH SEAS
It was off to the annual Stock Exchange Sailing Association regatta at the weekend, held at the Isle of Wight’s Seaview Yacht Club.

Salty sea dogs from the likes of Brewin Dolphin, Charles Stanley, JM Finn, Rensburg Sheppards, Cheviot and King & Shaxon all made their way down to the island for the fun and games, though I’m told none of them managed to get even close to the winning team from WH Ireland.

Skipper Nick Alexander, collecting his eleventh trophy from the event, delivered the sad news that this year would be his last at the regatta, since he is retiring from WH Ireland. Mind you, at least it opens up the field for all the other sailors next year.

LATE SHOW
City folk well accustomed to the trials and tribulations of commuting in on the District Line will prick up their ears at the news of a new website service which aims to make claiming back money on late journeys as easy as clicking a button.

The site – www.mytubewaslate.com – says that once you’ve filled in your details, it will automatically fill out the refund form for you, meaning all that’s left to do is to press the “send” button.

The stats are convincing – 147 Tube trains were severely delayed (by more than 15 minutes) last month alone, 37 of which were on the dreaded District line.

And while just 19,276 refund claims were submitted for a total of £52,000, the number of unmade potential claims hit 3,622,990, worth a substantial £9.73m.

Of course, there’s a catch of sorts, in that the money refunded can’t be spent on shoes or gadgets but comes in the form of Oyster top-up vouchers and travel cards. But if you’re going to have to face the morning wrath of your boss anyway, at least now you won’t be out of pocket.

IN THE WARS
Word reaches The Capitalist of a very lucky escape last week for Simon Pearson-Miles, the boss of City printing firm Sterling.

P-M, as the jovial chap is known, was hurrying to a physio appointment for treatment after a recent nasty fall, when he stepped out into the road too fast and was knocked down by a taxi.

No harm was done, thank heavens, though he can rely on the incident providing even more fodder for the merciless taunts of his unsympathetic City mates – between whom the accident-prone nature of P-M and his employees is a constant source of amusement…

FREE VIEW
Grumbles all round in the world of newspapers yesterday as an invitation email was bounced around to hundreds of hacks containing the most elementary of communications mistakes. The sender in question omitted to “BCC” the group mailing list, meaning that every email address on there was freely available to view by all. And the organisation responsible for the technological gaffe? None other than the press team at Google, that most respected of hi-tech giants. These things happen even to the best of us, it seems.

EQUITY STRIKE
A dose of World Cup doom-mongering darkened The Capitalist’s inbox yesterday, courtesy of Evolution Securities’ fixed income guru Gary Jenkins.

“For the sake of the equity market, let’s just hope that the semi finals do not result in a Holland v Germany final,” Jenkins warned. “That last occurred in 1974, in which year the Dow was down 29 per cent [and] 23 per cent after the final. The Dow is down 7 per cent this year so far – it’s all rather worrying…”

Still, there’s hope for our bond expert yet – Germany’s famous “psychic” octopus, Paul, yesterday dampened the spirits of our Teutonic chums by picking Spain as the winner of tonight’s game, choosing a tasty mussel from a container marked with his rival’s flag rather than his own.