MONEY CAN’T buy you everything. Just ask Hannibal Gaddafi, the wayward playboy son of the reviled Libyan dictator, who was shown the door when he made enquiries with one of the City’s most prestigious luxury travel firms about a getaway for himself, his former model wife Aline Skaf and their entourage for a £100,000 safari in Tanzania.
Perhaps sensitive about his links to a murderous regime that has flouted human rights for decades, the “erratic” demands from Gaddafi Jnr were anonymous – the phone number was always changing, and the travel agents never spoke to the same person twice.
Despite going to elaborate lengths to conceal his identity, however, Gaddafi’s giraffe-spotting hopes were dashed when his infamous name finally came to light.
“As soon as we were made aware of who the booking was for we dropped it immediately,” said Sally Kirby, who co-founded the Sally & Alice Travel Co – a specialist in top-end Indian Ocean and African holidays – with ex-Morgan Stanley analyst Alice Agar in August 2010. “Morally it is against everything we stand for.”
On the upside, the rest of the company’s City clients have been a delight by comparison – like the Deutsche Bank stag-party to Iceland and the Dow Jones executive who was too busy to organise his own honeymoon. “I am still looking at the bunch of flowers he sent in as a thank you,” said Kirby. No doubt Hannibal would have done the same.
BRITAIN can’t count, said Carol Vorderman only this month as she launched a campaign to tackle the nation’s numerical illiteracy.
Indeed – just ask those maths wizards at Nature Valley, who this week embarrassed their Fortune 500 owners General Mills with some number crunching that rammed home the point beyond dispute. “We wanted to increase deliciousness [sic] by 200 per cent,” said the cereal maker in its cover-wrap on free newspaper Metro. “So we put two bars in every pack.”
Sigh. The cereal bars may be twice as delicious, but The Capitalist is pretty sure adding one bar to one is an increase of 100 per cent. Perhaps General Mills could redirect some of its annual profits into remedial maths seminars for its staff…
AS THE City’s many Queen fans will already know, Monday 5 September would have been the late Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday.
To mark the occasion, bandmates Roger Taylor and Brian May are hosting a “unique night of comedy and rock and roll” at The Savoy, where auction lots include a Lotus Evora “S” class customised in the colours of the singer’s 1986 Wembley stage costume and the chance to appear as a bohemian in the musical We Will Rock You.
Unmissable. Final donations in aid of AIDS charity The Mercury Phoenix Trust will be taken on the night of the party, but the City can get in early by placing bids online. For all sale items see <a href="http://www.freddieforaday.com/auction" target="_blank">www.freddieforaday.com/auction</a>
MEANWHILE, registration for CNBC’s annual fantasy stock and currency trading contest is now open, ahead of the official start of trading on 12 September.
So how to win the $1m prize? Take the Warren Buffet approach and “invest in what you know” said past winner Mary Sue Williams, a former welder who had a “gut feeling” lubricant manufacturer WD-40 would oil her path to victory. See <a href="http://milliondollar.cnbc.com" target="_blank">milliondollar.cnbc.com</a>