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NEW BOSS NORMAN PREPARES TO BRING THE ROMANCE BACK TO ITV

THE market has roundly welcomed ex-Asda boss and former Tory MP Archie Norman&rsquo;s appointment to the chairman&rsquo;s seat at ITV, but has anyone considered the most pressing question it throws up for the broadcaster?<br /><br />Allow me to explain. Back in Norman&rsquo;s retail days, perhaps the most exciting new initiative at Asda was the introduction of its popular singles nights &ndash; where the supermarket, for those with short memories, attempted to hook up its loyal customers with each other by introducing a dash of romance to the stores.<br /><br />Dressed-up Cupids, Romeos and Juliets cruised the stores helping out those who were a tad shy, while the supermarkets also decked out designated &ldquo;love spots&rdquo; (frozen food, the wine section, the delicatessen) with balloons and pink hearts. And willing victims were asked to carry around pink carnations as they filled their trollies.<br /><br />All very heart-warming, and an initiative Norman was fully behind as head of the retail chain.<br /><br />Which, I&rsquo;m sure you&rsquo;ll agree, begs an important question. Will he finally be the one to bring national treasure Cilla Black back to our screens on Blind Date?<br />ringing success<br /><br />If any Square Mile readers opened their windows yesterday evening at 6pm, they might have caught the sound of something that hasn&rsquo;t been heard in the City for over a century.<br /><br />The bells of St Katherine Cree church escaped the Great Fire of London in 1666 through a lucky change of wind and managed to remain unscathed by bombs in both world wars, and also feature in the nursery rhyme &ldquo;Oranges and Lemons&rdquo;, where the bells sing out about &ldquo;maids in white aprons&rdquo; who worked in the nearby Leadenhall market.<br /><br />They were rung yesterday after the culmination of a successful appeal to restore the rotten housing to its former glory &ndash; including the biggest and noisiest of the bells, the tenor bell, which has been retuned and dedicated to Ian Agnew, the former deputy chairman of the Lloyd&rsquo;s of London insurance market who died aged 64 in March.<br /><br /><strong>BEHAVING BADLY</strong><br />What is it with City spread-betters and their cheeky misbehaviour?<br /><br />The industry&rsquo;s biggest players were out in force at the Shares magazine awards on Tuesday evening, including IG Index, CMC Markets, Spreadex, Capital Spreads and City Index &ndash; which was busy celebrating its CFD provider of the year gong for the sixth year running.<br /><br />And many rowdy hours into the event, a senior member of one particular firm passed out on the dancefloor after sinking one too many &ndash; a dangerous action indeed, particularly as several colleagues were still present and gunning to take advantage of his catatonic state.<br /><br />The Capitalist wonders if the poor chap in question managed to scrub off all the traces of the vulgar statement scrawled across his forehead before slouching into work yesterday?<br /><br /><strong>LAP OF LUXURY</strong><br />The MPC members at the Bank of England must have had a tough time of it over this past month, with a three-way division between the members revealed yesterday in the minutes of the committee&rsquo;s November meeting.<br /><br />Still, if one insider account is anything to go by, at least they&rsquo;re being looked after amid all that stress.<br /><br />Sixteen-year-old Usman Ali, the member of the Youth Parliament for Calderdale, hopped over to the Bank last week for meetings with senior decision-makers, as part of a project led by the Children&rsquo;s Commissioner. <br /><br />And Ali says that along with the force of the boggling brain power inside the 230-year-old institution, the one thing that struck him hard was the luxury of working there.<br /><br />&ldquo;Spencer Dale&rsquo;s office was unbelievably grand &ndash; like a mini version of the Oval Office,&rdquo; he tells me, earnestly. &ldquo;And while I was there we were waited on hand and foot by butlers serving us tea from silver teapots&hellip;&rdquo; Can&rsquo;t be bad.<br /><br /><strong>GOLD LABEL</strong><br />Some official figures might still claim we&rsquo;re in recession, but the bleak data doesn&rsquo;t seem to have dampened cheer in all quarters. Auctioneers Bonhams held a whisky sale yesterday up in Edinburgh, raising a total of &pound;211,518, which was actually the best performance on record for the 583 whiskies on offer.<br /><br />Among the treasures snapped up by eager buyers were a Black Bowmore 1964, a Macallan 56 year old 1946, and a unique Dalmore Oculus, assembled from some of the most exceptional whiskies of the past 140 years, which went under the hammer for an eye-popping &pound;27,600.<br /><br />&ldquo;The atmosphere in the room was electric with much excitement and frenzied bidding,&rdquo; says Bonhams&rsquo; resident whisky expert Martin Green. The recovery, it seems, is well underway.