WITH the CBI issuing an invocation to the government to sow the green shoots of new growth in the economy, some City folk are taking the order rather literally.

Mike Ogilvie, managing director of City executive search firm Ogilvie Search, will be pulling on a pair of wellies along with his wife to take part in a new BBC series airing tonight called “It’s a Farmer’s Life for Me”.

The series combines reality TV with pig farming – surely a far cry from finding top-class bankers for clients, whatever colourful metaphors Vince Cable might dream up.

The programme takes eight couples from urban jungles and throws them into rural Suffolk to be coached by self-made pig farmer Jimmy Doherty, who will decide who has to leave the show each week. Think of it as a kind of outdoors Big Brother. With pigs.

The winning couple will have to convince Doherty that they can use their chosen plot of land to turn a profit, a task that even the contents of Ogilvie’s extensive contacts book might find a challenge.

Ever searched in vain for a way from making back some of your losses at the races? Kempton Park races is now offering any punter their money back – if they can show that the day doesn’t set their heart racing.

Race-goers interested in taking part get to have their skin conductance (ie, sweatiness) and heart rate monitored to check whether they’re sweating or have been set a’flutter, with those showing little-to-no change getting a full ticket refund.

The organisers are banking on the fact that watching horses churn up turf automatically gets us hot and bothered: they’ve even done research to measure how many beats per minute racing adds to your pulse: supposedly, it ups it by eight per cent to an average of 79.7 beats per minute. Formula One comes a close second at 77.6. Which means that watching sport is almost like going for a run, right?

You might think the City throws a fair number of odd characters your way, from the pedantic fund managers to the hyper-active traders, but according to a Virgin Atlantic survey of 3,000 of its cabin crew, nothing beats being an air steward.

The airline has just released the top seven weirdest requests stewards have encountered on their rounds. In at seventh, the nervous fantasists: “Can the captain please stop the turbulence?”

Others include queries as to whether there’s a McDonald’s on board, requests to turn the noisy engine volume down a bit and a demand for help finding a passenger’s glass eye (a bit beyond the call of duty).

But the top spots are reserved for the truly odd, including, “Can you take my children to the playroom?” (what is this? A Victorian dollhouse?) and “Can I have a cup of tea and book a massage for my Barbie doll?” Of course, if it’s first class, the answer is surely “yes”.