AT a time of year when many City folk are sunning themselves on beaches abroad, it’s good to see that James Caan, the entrepreneur most famous for his appearances on Dragons’ Den, is putting his cash to good use. Last week he flew out to Pakistan to help with the flood relief efforts there. His missive about his experiences doing his bit makes for some extraordinary reading.
Landing in Lahore, he set about trying to buy supplies for 1,000 families in a village outside Islamabad, but encountered problems even finding enough food in the shops to load his lorry.
Finally he got enough food together, but after travelling through the countryside, he concludes that “it really is survival of the fittest out there, and if you don’t fight for it, you don’t get the aid. This isn’t how it should be.”
His description of driving through the flooded area makes vivid reading: “As we weaved in and out of the tops of trees that barely broke the surface of the water, I saw people’s belongings floating to the top; kitchen utensils, and then the odd roof top here and there. It was mind-boggling.” Depressing.
BIKES are a far commoner sight in the City these days, what with Boris’s scheme of rent-a-bike, and now the City of London is trying to encourage bicycling too.
They’re calling on senior managers to take part in sponsored cycle-rides as part of European Mobility Week, 16-22 September, with each manager tasked with raising £5,000.
The money goes to Re-Cycle, which sends second-hand bikes in Africa.
To find out more, and to take the first step to seeing your boss tottering about on two wheels, see www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/cyclechallenge.
ANOTHER sensitive City type is James Montier, an analyst at investment management firm GMO. In a research note this week he writes: “As those who know me can attest, I’ve never worried about being fashionable. Not for me, the fads and fashions of this contemporary age. Indeed, I’m known affectionately to some of my colleagues as “the Amish,” for my shunning of the modern world. Touch-screen technology and person-less check-ins at airports haunt my nightmares.” He finishes: “Perhaps I am just a man from a different time.” Then wandered off and started embroidering a quilt, presumably.
DICK FULD: MAN OF EMOTION
THIS is not something you hear very often, but here goes: “Poor Dick Fuld.” The former Lehman Brothers boss, who was known as The Gorilla for his gruff, not to say, er, hands-on, management style, is hard to love, but it seems that he has a softer side.
Former Lehman employee named Kevin White has recently revealed a strange encounter he had with his boss in the wake of the investment bank’s collapse in late 2008. the 47-year-old told how, just after it became clear that Lehman had collapsed, he went to see Fuld in his office.
“Are you going to shoot me?” Fuld asked. No, replied White, and explained that he was there to thank him for the good times. “Give me a hug. I need a hug,” responded an emotional Fuld, and embraced his astonished colleague. Then he started crying. “Kevin, you’re the first person to say thank-you to me,” wept poor old Dick. And the last, one assumes.