GUARDIAN DRAGS ITS HEELS OVER RENEWING HAY SPONSORSHIP DEAL

WHAT with an enthusiastic push into online investment, a string of ill-advised private equity deals and a move to swanky new offices at Kings Cross, it appears more traditional stalwarts of the Guardian’s extra-curricular programme could be coming under threat.

A little bird tells The Capitalist that the newspaper’s long-standing sponsorship of the Hay literary festival is currently under review, with a renewal of the deal next year “far from certain”.

“Not so,” huffs festival director Peter Florence, though he does admit that after almost a decade with the Guardian in the title sponsor’s spot, Hay is now “renegotiating” its media sponsorship. An announcement is expected in September.

Word from the Guardian’s upper echelons is that the “chances are that the sponsorship will be renewed”, with plenty of the usual waffle being spouted about contracts ending and the importance of its key audience.

Mind you, that audience has certainly altered a bit in recent years as Hay has broken free from its academic constraints. It’s now a regular hotspot for the doyens of finance and politics – 2010’s sparkling list of attendees included HSBC chairman Stephen Green, big cheeses from fellow sponsors Barclays Wealth and Sky and ministers Michael Gove and David Willetts.

CALAMITY CHRIS

A statistical headache yesterday for employment minister Chris Grayling, after the Department for Work and Pensions rapped out a press release claiming that there are 71,000 households in London where no-one has ever worked, equivalent to 23 per cent of the capital.

Perturbed by the maths, a conscientious City A.M.er rang up to check the figures, to be greeted by a red-faced spinner. “It’s actually 61,000 households, equivalent to just seven per cent of London,” she explained, apologetically.

This isn’t the first run-in Grayling has had with a calculator, of course: earlier this year, as shadow home secretary, he was publicly rebuked by the head of the UK Statistics Authority for manipulating crime statistic comparisons in the election. Here’s to third time lucky, eh?

SEX APPEAL

When it comes to sexual conquests, iPhone users are even more successful than England footballers. That’s the word from dating site OKCupid.com, anyway, which has crunched the numbers on almost 10,000 smartphone owners and found that Apple’s device was up to twice as likely to get its owner some bedroom action as those with BlackBerry or Google Android phones.

Men with iPhones had on average 10 sexual partners by age 30, compared to 8.1 for the BlackBerry and a pitiful six for the Android. The effect, it would appear, is even more pronounced for female iPhone users, who had around 12.3 partners by age 30, compared to similar numbers to the men for the other two devices.

FISH BOWL

They say looking at fish swimming peacefully in an aquarium promotes psychological and physical wellbeing, so the many City workers moving into the newly-constructed Heron Tower are set to be a very healthy bunch indeed.

The tower yesterday took delivery of Europe’s largest privately-owned aquarium, shipped to Bishopsgate all the way from Colorado. Once it has been filled, the 12m x 4m x 2m tank will hold 70,000 litres of water and will be home to more than 1,200 tropical marine fish imported from the eponymous Heron Island, located off the Great Barrier Reef.

GREED IS GOOD

Investors who are easily star-struck should probably steer clear of the CLSA investor conference in Hong Kong next month, where none other than Hollywood star Michael Douglas is due to be guest speaker.

Douglas’ main credential for the job is his role playing trader Gordon Gekko in the Wall Street films, though he’s not afraid to bring a bit of alternative spice to the conference – topics will range from filmmaking to nuclear abolition and the prevention of small arms proliferation.

CRIME STOPPERS

Finally, a bit of sleuthing for our readers, after the British Transport Police got in touch to ask for help solving a case at Liverpool Street station.

The incident, which took place on Sunday 11 July at 10.45pm, occurred when a woman began to throw rubbish at three other women outside McDonalds.

When her targets asked her to stop, they were assaulted by her male companion, who broke one of the ladies’ eye sockets.

The woman is white, between the ages of 20 and 23, with blonde hair which was tied up. She was wearing an orange dress with a leopard print scarf. The man is white, 5’10” and of the same age, with short dark brown hair.

Anyone with information can contact BTP 0800 40 50 40, quoting reference 470 and the date of the attack.