IT’S always good to spot a familiar face, right?<br /><br />Well, perhaps not for private equity firm Alchemy, which was co-sponsoring the Investor AllStars awards at the Park Lane Hilton on Wednesday evening. Bigwigs arrived at the hotel to the sight of former boss Jon Moulton happily schmoozing the crowd, just weeks after sensationally quitting the firm and calling for investors to wind it up.<br /><br />Moulton – who was still hobbling around with his foot in plaster at the event after having injured the offending extremity in a tennis accident – chatted at length to guests including BBC News gazelle Emily Maitlis, before he was eventually cornered by Alchemy director Eric Lakin.<br /><br />The Capitalist would have loved to report back on what the pair had found to talk about, though Lakin refused to be drawn, chuckling: “I couldn’t possibly comment. Not a word, not a hint, not even an adjective.” They do say silence speaks volumes, I suppose.<br /><br /><strong>HOT DESKING</strong><br />It looks like the well-publicised row between JJB Sports chairman Sir David Jones and former chief executive Chris Ronnie remains as heated as ever.<br /><br />Jones is facing an uphill battle after problems at the sport retailer left its balance sheet in tatters, and was recently left red-faced after emails in which he criticised members of the sport retailer’s past and current management team were leaked to the press by Ronnie.<br /><br />But difficult times don’t seem to have dampened Jones’s spirits one iota. On the blower yesterday to explain why the firm’s losses widened from £14.8m to £42.3m over the first six months of the year, he was asked whether any legacy remained at the firm from Ronnie’s time at the helm.<br /><br />“Well, we haven’t quite broken up his desk yet,” he deadpanned, before laughing: “That was a joke!” Smashing furniture always was a useful way of managing stress, wasn’t it?<br /><br /><strong>SOUL SEARCHING</strong><br />Author and philosopher Alain de Botton has now completed an arduous self-inflicted stint at Heathrow airport, where he spent the summer talking to passengers in order to produce his new tome, “A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary”.<br /><br />One of those to enjoy their moment in the book’s spotlight, of course, is beleaguered British Airways boss Willie Walsh.<br /><br />“Considered collectively, as a cohesive industry, civil aviation had never in its history shown a profit,” muses de Botton. “Just as significantly, neither had book publishing. In this sense, then, Willie Walsh and I, despite our apparent differences, were in much the same sort of business, each one needing to justify itself in the eyes of humanity not so much by its bottom line as by its ability to stir the soul.”<br /><br />BA stirring the soul, with all the recent hoo-ha about losses and redundancies? Stirring up the unions, more like.<br /><br /><strong>PENNY PINCH</strong><br />An aside on the latest craze to hit the Square Mile’s rather prolific gambling set. I hear there’s an online fruit machine application – downloadable to BlackBerrys – which has become popular that it’s earned itself the nickname of the “One Thumb Bandit”. <br /><br />As if the City needed another excuse to fritter away its remaining pennies… <br /><br /><strong>SHOW BUSINESS</strong><br />There’s a sort of pleasing irony to the appointment of spinner Emma Thompson to City PR firm M: Communications, if you’re the type to believe in coincidences.<br />M’s founder Nick Miles was close to a different Emma Thompson at university in Cambridge, you see – namely, the “Sense and Sensibility” actress of the same name. <br /><br />The pair go way back to when they were members of the Cambridge Footlights theatrical group together, where Miles, incidentally, was once described as “one of the best Footlights singer/songwriters not to go into showbiz”. You learn something new every day, eh?<br /><br /><strong>FANCY A FLUTTER</strong><br />After a traumatic year for the City, BGC Partners commentator David Buik summed up the situation for fund managers quite neatly yesterday.<br /><br />“Unless there was going to be anarchy, equities were as cheap as chips at the beginning of March,” Buik wrote in a daily round-robin missive. “But it’s one thing to say it, and quite another thing to back your judgement with other people’s money!”<br /><br />Quite so. Still, Buik stuck out his neck by providing betting odds on four awards at the Awards for Excellence in Institutional Asset Management, on 6 October.<br /><br />Favourite for hedge fund of the year is Odey Asset Management, while Elizabeth Corley from Allianz Global Investors Europe and Judy Saunders of the West Midlands Pension Fund are odds-on for the most influential woman in asset management. Meanwhile, BlackRock, led by Larry Fink, is favoured in two categories – for European asset manager of the year and chief executive of the year. Worth a flutter?