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NEWSPAPER VETERAN APPROACHES GUARDIAN WITH A HEAVY HAND

HEATED words in the media world yesterday after Carolyn McCall’s abrupt defection from the helm of Guardian Media Group to easyJet.

Some say McCall won’t be too sorely missed by her former charges at the Guardian, given the messy state of the group’s finances and her recent controversial decision to sell the Manchester Evening News.

But her leadership style would pale in comparison to a turnaround proposal from the most unlikely of new group chief executives, ex-Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who yesterday threw his hat into the ring for the job.

“As a fiscally responsible chief executive, my first move would be to shut down the Guardian and the Observer tomorrow, thereby saving about £50m a year,” stormed the notoriously forthright MacKenzie yesterday.

“It would also have the pleasing effect of chucking a lot of untalented left-wing turds onto Brown’ s bonfire. It’s a total nightmare of a job and nobody with an ounce of business acumen would touch it…”

PERFECT PITCH
While most of the City eschewed the pubs and restaurants of the Square Mile yesterday lunchtime to watch chancellor Alistair Darling present his Budget, one group of financial services workers decided to resolutely defy the economic forecasts and go ahead with their plans as normal.

Beefcakes from some of the City’s most prominent firms headed down for a full day’s rugby at the annual City Scrum tournament – including sponsors Norton Rose, accountancy firms KPMG and Ernst & Young and banks JP Morgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Coutts and Morgan Stanley.

I’m told the event was a roaring success, with JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley ending up on the pitch to battle it out in the grand final. JP Morgan eventually took the day’s honours, beating their rivals 5-1 in the final. A hearty pat on the back all round.

TOP OF THE SHOPS
Fashionistas on the sparsely-populated north island of New Zealand were jumping for joy yesterday as it emerged that UK fashion emporium Topshop is opening its first store in the country. (The new Topshop, for the globetrotters out there, will be in Auckland, in the mall run by designer Karen Walker.)

Something of a coup for Walker, to be sure, but it appears the move hasn’t even registered on the radar of Topshop’s chieftain Sir Philip Green.

A Kiwi journalist chum of The Capitalist’s called Green to confirm the story yesterday and was informed, in gruff and certainly not uncertain terms, that he hadn’t a clue about the launch.

Still, with the world’s most famous supermodel, the gorgeous Kate Moss, hanging off his arm back here in Blighty, who can blame the man for preferring to keep tabs on business nearer to home?

HOT TO CHOC
City workers feeling flush – though there may not be too many of them left after yesterday’s Budget whammy from chancellor Alistair Darling – might like to earn a few brownie points next weekend by presenting their better half with a particularly fine Easter treat.

Word reaches The Capitalist of an enormous chocolate egg by chocolatier William Curley, which stands 60cm high and is filled with five separate smaller eggs, each in turn filled to order with either scrumptious truffles or your own personal gifts of trinkets or jewellery.

A limited amount are available to order – though they will set you back a jaw-dropping £1,000 a pop, so prepare to flex that credit card.

ALL FALL DOWN
A City chum emails to alert The Capitalist to the latest example of shameless piggybacking off the financial crisis – a game called “Collapse!”.

For board game junkies out there, Collapse is a sort of bastardised version of “Jenga”, where players stack 54 blocks, each representing one of the factors or events in the crisis, into a tower and then attempt to remove them one by one until the tower collapses.

“What better way to relive the financial turmoil than to grab some family or friends and try to build your own financial fortress that’s too big to fail!” shouts the game’s website, excitedly.
“Collapse makes for a great gift, collector’s item or history lesson…”

Surely the events of the past 18 months were bad enough to experience the first time round?

WORTH A MINT
Finally, the City is set to be immortalised in a new £1 coin created by the Royal Mint to celebrate London – part of a series of four new designs for each of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The coins are set to be issued over the next two years and will come into circulation, including one design featuring the coat of arms of the City of London Corporation, a red cross and upright red sword. The Queen, as usual, is featured on the back of the coins.