YESTERDAY marked the first working day at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 for philosopher Alain de Botton, who’s spending a week as “writer-in-residence” at the airport while scouting for fuel for a new book.<br /><br />The tome, “A Week At The Airport: A Heathrow Diary”, is due to be published in September and will feature conversations with passengers, staff and even the top dogs at airport owner BAA and British Airways.<br /><br />De Botton has already spoken to BAA chief Colin Matthews, who told of his draconian measures for making sure employees toe the line. (“Matthews’s family are on hols at the moment and he’s at a loose end,” explains de Botton. “So he’s fond of going for a snoop into the quieter parts of the airport like a modern day lord of the manor, checking up on his subjects…”)<br /><br />And Willie Walsh’s interview is scheduled for tomorrow, when de Botton, for a change, is planning to give the BA boss a break from the tricky questions to which he’s accustomed.<br /><br />“I’ve had enough of hearing about the problems at Terminal 5, pension plans, staff cuts and the rest of it,” de Botton says. “Walsh is the first chief executive of BA who actually knows how to fly a plane, and that’s what I’ll be asking him about. The City may think he’s got the worst job going, but to my five-year-old son, it’s the best job in the world.”<br /><br /><strong>PLAYING IT SAFE</strong><br />Those wise old birds at Credit Suisse never did quite trust Bernie Madoff. While City supermum Nicola Horlick and investment hotshots at the likes of HSBC and Santander lost money because of Madoff’s wily ways, Credit Suisse looked the other way – and was so keen to distance itself from the $65bn Ponzi schemer that I hear it decided to protect itself on paper against its employees’ decisions.<br /><br />A former Credit Suisse chum tells me he and other employees were called into the offices of the powers that be not long before news of the fraud broke. They were then asked to sign a sort of disclaimer confirming that if they entrusted any money to Madoff, it would be against the bank’s advice and on their own backs. If only all of the fraudster’s many victims had thought to do the same.<br /><br /><strong>DANCING QUEEN</strong><br />It’s good to know that not everyone out there is letting that pesky credit crunch get in the way of having fun.<br /><br />Harri Huuskonen, the managing director of St Andrews Securities, is currently in the process of planning his big 40th birthday bash, to be held on a Surrey farm. Don’t let the inauspicious choice of venue fool you, though: Huuskonen’s guests have a real treat in store in the form of 50 pole dancers who’ll be entertaining at the event, which is being hosted together with the organisers of Miss Pole Dance UK and Miss World Pole Dance.<br /><br />“I have always been passionate about pole dancing,” Huuskonen tells me. “My wife is actually the current UK champion and number three in the world…”<br /><br />He must be a happy chappy indeed.<br /><br /><strong>BUSINESS BOUNCEBACK</strong><br />So, family-friendly supermarket chain Iceland has unceremoniously sacked celebrity Kerry Katona, left, from its advertising campaigns, following drug-taking allegations in the News of the World.<br /><br />The troubled lass is said to be terribly down in the dumps, but someone should point out the effect a similar story once had on model Kate Moss’s stellar career. Since then, Mossy has bounced back with more modelling than she can shake a stick at, not to mention a burgeoning business relationship with Topshop billionaire Sir Philip Green. Katona should get on the blower to Green’s M&S arch-rival Sir Stuart Rose, and pronto.<br /><br /><strong>ANIMAL SPIRIT</strong><br />Bankers in the City may not have the blessing of the British public, but at least they’ve got the support of London mayor Boris Johnson.<br /><br />Despite the fact that China wants to make Shanghai into a global financial hub, the city’s mayor Han Zheng is keen to show he’s not on the bankers’ side. “Financiers have the least conscience in the world when it comes to making money,” Zheng said recently in an interview with Bloomberg. “By saying that, I would have offended many bankers and financiers, but this is my personal experience…we need to put those ‘animal spirits’ on a leash.”<br /> <br />Someone teach that man the art of diplomacy.