Elizabeth Fournier
AHEAD of today’s Budget, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) is trying to loosen up chancellor George Osborne – and his stance on beer tax – by dropping by the Treasury to hand-deliver a hamper of Britain’s finest beers.

With the Budget speech the one day that the chancellor is allowed an on-duty tipple, the BBPA has provided Boy George with a selection of beers to choose from, should he decide to branch out from the mineral water that conscientious recent chancellors have favoured at the dispatch box.

If he does choose to hark back to thedays of former chancellors Kenneth Clarke (whisky) or even William Gladstone (the dubious sounding sherry and beaten egg), then Osborne can take his pick from a variety of regional beers, including Welsh favourite Brains or Edinburgh’s favourite Deuchar’s IPA, offered alongside brews from Yorkshire, Kent and the Midlands.

London brewers are represented by the strongest beer of the bunch, in the form of 7.5 per cent alcohol-by-volume Fuller’s Golden Pride. With today’s budget tipped to introduce a sliding tax scale according to the strength of drinks, Pride fans should act fast to get their hands on a bargain – a pint of strong beer could rise by 3p according to the duty escalators.

Though there was no word from the Treasury as to whether the chancellor had selected his preferred tipple for today’s speech, a spokesman for the BBPA said that the basket had been handed over to a duty press officer, who looked “rather thrilled” with his boozy haul.

Brigid Simmons, upon whose shoulders it fell to deliver the basket, extolled the virtues of the national brew, saying: “A long and refreshing drink that’s low in strength, beer is perfect for a gruelling stint in the dispatch box. It’s something for Britain to be proud of, so it’s time a chancellor enjoyed beer in the chamber.”

Following The Capitalist’s revelations about hedge fund manager Trifon Natsis’ renovations earlier this month, yesterday we were privy to news of a far more modest attempt at home improvement, this time by the “godfather of hedge funds” himself Stanley Fink (right).

At a roundtable breakfast to discuss the launch of Earth Capital Partners, a green tech investment fund, Fink expressed annoyance at the attempts of planning officials to block plans to install double glazing at his listed home.

With an upgrade to double glazing estimated to save up to 680kg of carbon dioxide per year, Fink was only trying to be more energy efficient. We can only suggest that Fink, who is also Tory party treasurer, try lobbying his mates in government to get the rules changed.

Insurers’ hangout Leadenhall Market is better known for its array of City boozers than its sporting facilites, but that could all change next week, when a pop up fencing demo (above) takes over the 14th century tourist attraction,

London 2012 hopefuls Laurence Halsted, Tom Bennett and Chrystall Nicoll will be showing off their lunges and ballestras in front of the post-work crowd next Thursday, before competitive observers are given the chance to wield their own foils in a winner-stays-on contest.

Keen amateurs should brush up on their parries now.

Harriet Dennys is away.