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MILLIONAIRE LEAVES THE LAP OF LUXURY TO GET BY ON 64 A WEEK

CHANNEL 4-gazers might have been surprised last night by the sight of a familiar face popping up on the box: Pimlico Plumbers boss Charlie Mullins.<br /><br />Mullins, himself the subject of a classic rags-to-riches tale as a self-made business tycoon, was taking part in the channel&rsquo;s popular &ldquo;Secret Millionaire&rdquo; show, for which he travelled to a rough council estate in Warrington to work as an undercover handyman.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was a nightmare,&rdquo; he tells me, in a cheery cockney drawl. &ldquo;I was putting in drains, taking apart beds and kitchens, picking people up from therapy and even sewing &ndash; just acting as a general dogsbody, really.&rdquo;<br /><br />Although Mullins admits that finding out how the other half live has made him a more rounded person and taught him to realise his good fortune, there&rsquo;s one part of the challenge in particular which he found truly unachievable.<br /><br />&ldquo;Let me tell you, surviving on just &pound;64 a week is impossible,&rdquo; he says, suddenly serious. &ldquo;I blew &pound;20 on the Lottery straight away, thinking it was a good investment, and then had to live off beans on toast for the rest of the week&hellip;&rdquo;<br /><br />The Capitalist can sympathise. After all, Heinz &lsquo;n&rsquo; Hovis aren&rsquo;t exactly the most stimulating of experiences for taste buds more accustomed to the haute cuisine of Mews of Mayfair.<br /><br /><strong>BEST BEHAVIOUR</strong><br />Much excitement in the High Court yesterday as BGC Partners and Tullett Prebon squared up to each other for the first time in their legal fight over the poaching of staff. No juicy details about risqu&eacute; pastimes yet, I&rsquo;m afraid &ndash; disappointing those gossipmongers in the City who have been eagerly awaiting the case and remembering the lurid anecdotes of lap-dancing and other naughty distractions which came out of a lawsuit between two other inter-dealer brokers, Cantor Fitzgerald and Icap, back in 2002.<br /><br />Mind you, those staffers left on the trading floor at Tullett should remain on their best behaviour, since they may well get a surprise visit in the next couple of days from the judge presiding over the case, Mr Justice Jack.<br /><br />Yesterday, Tullett&rsquo;s barrister Daniel Oudkerk suggested to the court that a site visit to the floor would be beneficial for the judge to understand the workings of the trading environment, to which his Lordship replied that such a visit should be got out of the way &ldquo;sooner rather than later&rdquo;. They&rsquo;d better mind their Ps and Qs.<br /><br /><strong>ROUND TWO</strong><br />Biographer Tom Bower has got some pluck, I&rsquo;ll give him that. Bower &ndash; who recently won a drawn-out libel case against newspaper mogul Richard Desmond due to a mention in his book about disgraced media baron Conrad Black &ndash; is working out how he can come back for more.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s a well-known fact that Bower has already written a book on Desmond himself, though the tome has not yet been accepted by publishers, who are understandably nervous. <br /><br />But he tells me he is currently trying to get a chunk of the book published via a libel report by the parliamentary cultural committee, chaired by MP John Whittingdale.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve already chosen 22 pages of the book which I&rsquo;d like to get in there,&rdquo; says Bower. &ldquo;London shouldn&rsquo;t be the libel capital of the world, and I&rsquo;m convinced we should try to get Parliament to change the laws to prevent rich people from suppressing the truth&hellip;&rdquo;<br /><br />Brave words indeed. He must have been particularly happy to see oil firm Trafigura shot down this week after it attempted to prevent the Guardian reporting questions about it in Parliament.<br /><br /><strong>SWEET DREAMS</strong><br />Bankers who last year were lying awake at night worrying about the financial crisis are now sleeping like babies. That&rsquo;s the view of hotel chain Travelodge, anyway, which has just concluded its yearly survey of sleeplessness among the British workforce.<br /><br />Last year, bankers and estate agents topped the survey, getting an average of 6 hours 23 minutes and 5 hours 50 minutes of sleep a night respectively, as they tossed and turned, worrying about what might happen next.<br /><br />Yet this year, estate agents are up at 6 hours 46 minutes, and bankers have dropped off the chart altogether, meaning they are getting a minimum of 7 hours a night on average. <br /><br />Hmmm. Something tells me the survey coordinators have never seen the steady flow of commuters streaming to and from the City from well before 6am in the morning... <br /><br /><strong>ALRIGHT, TREACLE</strong><br />Those of you who had imagined that Marks and Spencer&rsquo;s dapper boss Sir Stuart Rose kept his trim figure by avoiding the scrummy food on offer in his empire had better think again.<br /><br />I&rsquo;m told Rose wolfed down his meal at the dinner following M&amp;S&rsquo;s investor day on Tuesday, at which the gathered guests enjoyed a feast of charcuterie, sea bass and treacle tart. The wine and champagne served were also the retailer&rsquo;s own, and rumour has it that Rose &ndash; who was on top form as he schmoozed his way through the crowd &ndash; had picked them all out specially, using knowledge garnered from cultivating his own extensive cellar of fine wines. <br /><br />Now there&rsquo;s product dedication for you.