MOST of the management over at shiny-new high street lender Metro Bank might be patting themselves on the back over their latest marketing ruse, a giant mascot for the bank, but some of the poor staffers have been left red-faced.

The new mascot – an enormous foamy “M” in blue and red, the bank’s colours – is a replica of a tried-and-tested formula used by Metro’s billionaire backer Vernon Hill over in the States, where he founded retail banking behemoth Commerce Bank.

True to the happy bank’s new touchy-feely spirit, I hear chief executive Anthony Thomson decided to give the “Metro Man” mascot’s outfit a fitting debut at the group’s Christmas party, though he tossed a coin with fellow bigwig Paul Marriott-Clarke – who joined Metro as head of retail banking from HBOS – for the dubious privilege of modelling it.

As is invariably the way with these things, poor Marriott-Clarke drew the short straw – quite literally, since the costume is intended for a person of between 5’4” and 5’8”, while he stands at the relatively lofty height of 6’2”.

“The trousers were a bit short, I think it’s fair to say,” chuckles Thomson, adding that he was “really quite jealous” of the attention his colleague received from throngs of Japanese tourists on the way to the restaurant.

I’ll bet…

Is there no end to the plaudits heaped upon king of investors Warren Buffett?

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has come out on top in a list of the best-regarded US companies, published today by Harris Interactive. Now, billionaires at the very pinnacle of the world’s rich lists don’t tend to enjoy stratospheric popularity ratings among the general public, but then again, not every billionaire is willing to humble himself by singing badly in a rock star’s get-up for the amusement of his underlings. (The Sage of Omaha recently donned leather, an Axl Rose wig, fake tattoos and a bandanna to warble a rock ballad in a promotional video for staff at his US insurance firm Geico, endearing himself to those workers and the rest of the world alike.)

Johnson & Johnson and Google also ranked among the best-regarded companies, though there’s no prizes for guessing which firms were scraping the bottom – Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, American International Group (AIG), investment bank Citigroup and (surprise, surprise) the mighty Goldman Sachs.

Looks like that pesky vampire squid analogy is going to be a tough one to shake off.

There’s hope yet for the UK’s ailing pub sector, if research from various trade bodies is anything to go by. Latest figures out from the British Beer and Pub Association suggest that the World Cup this summer could be worth over £124m to the on-trade market, with accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers concluding that one in five adults watching the games will do so in the pub.

That, of course, comes after dire times for the sector, as upwards of 500 pub businesses fell into insolvency over the last two years. The Capitalist can’t think of a better excuse to get down to your local boozer.

An advert pops up on website for a flatmate in a “bijou studio in the heart of leafy Ham”, slap bang in Richmond.

Nothing bizarre about that, you might think, until you realise that the address in question is for HM Prison Latchmere House in Richmond – and the person advertising the room is a prisoner known only as “Norman”.

“One of a kind studio flatshare in attractive old building with original features, bordering Richmond Common and within walking distance of Richmond Golf Course,” the advert reads.

“In need of some renovation, characterful Latchmere House is historically significant having been used by MI5 during the war.”

He adds that the building enjoys “excellent 24-hour security” – and if anyone’s interested, he’s asking for £325 a month including bills...