SPREADBETTING BOSS IN A PRODIGIOUS MOVE

IF THERE’S been a whiff of celebrity recently about the walk of Simon Denham, the ebullient head of spreadbetter Capital Spreads, The Capitalist knows why.

For the past year or so, Denham has been in the process of buying his new house – a sprawling country pile in Great Dunmow, Essex – from none other than Prodigy frontman Liam Howlett.

And as you’d expect from a hardcore rocker like Howlett, the house itself was somewhat, let’s say, unusual. The gates had a row of skulls lined up along them; the staircase was supported by skeletons, and the swimming pool was tiled entirely in black, the colour of most of the walls in the house. And that’s without even taking into consideration the decorative figures in the garden – a black Dalek from Dr Who and a movie skeleton which once sprang out to attack Jason and the Argonauts when they planted dragon’s teeth in the ground. Tasteful.

I hear the revamp is already well underway, with the personal music studio – decorated in black, natch – one of the first rooms to be gutted. “I once tried to play the guitar but couldn’t even tell when I’d tuned it correctly,” Denham chuckles. “So I didn’t think I’d be needing the studio any time soon…”

SKIRTING THE ISSUE

An intriguing new take on the age-old “hemline theory” of economic prosperity, courtesy of two boffins from the Econometric Institute, Marjolein van Baardwijk and Philip Hans Franses.

The dedicated pair put the hemline index – which states, of course, that skirts become shorter and shorter as the economy improves, while it drops to the floor when times are tough – to an empirical test, collecting monthly data from as early as 1921 (presumably from the back issues of Vogue).

Their findings? The phenomenon does hold true, but including a time lag of about three years.

“It is not today’s recession that dictates the hemline, but perhaps the boom [beforehand],” they conclude.

A valiant attempt to put smiles on faces in hard times, perhaps?
SNAP DECISION

A slightly unusual extra-curricular achievement, courtesy of Scott Mead – a founding partner of boutique merchant bank Richmond Park Partners and former partner and chairman of telecom, media and technology investment banking at Goldman Sachs.
Tomorrow evening, Mead will be hosting a private view of an exhibition of his own photography at the Hamiltons gallery in Mayfair. Only the photographs in question – which “deploy a distinctive circular aesthetic” – are over three decades old and were recently discovered in Mead’s attic.

They were originally taken in the 1970s, when he studied with American photographers William Eggleston and Emmet Gowin before joining the world of finance.
Mead is selling prints and an accompanying book to benefit Great Ormond Street Hospital.

IN LOVING MEMORY
A memorial service will be held tomorrow morning for Alan Ruddock, the much-loved former Scotsman editor, City A.M. columnist and Sunday Times and Irish Independent journalist, who died earlier this year aged just 49.

The service, which begins at 11.30am at St Bride’s Church on Fleet Street, will include readings of Ruddock’s work by Sunday Times editor John Witherow and Powerscourt financial PR boss Rory Godson, as well as addresses by journalist Richard Beeston and former Independent deputy editor Ian Birrell, now a speechwriter for Prime Minister David Cameron.

OCTOPUS OF CREDIT
An eagle-eyed reader has discovered that last year’s famous reference to Goldman Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” was not the first time a bank has been given the cephalopod treatment.

In fact, an earlier version of the phrase was originally coined by HG Wells in 1933, in “The Shape of Things to Come”.

“Another big obscure financial force in the war and post-war periods was the complex of great private banking ganglia of which Morgan & Co, with its associated firms, was the most central and most typical,” wrote Wells. “This particular firm carried on its business upon a scale that completely overshadowed many minor governments. The loans it made or refused, confirmed or shattered regimes. Its founder, JP Morgan...was never dishonest and always disingenuous. That was the rule of his game. Opaque pockets he insisted upon, and hidden motives, but also the punctual performance of a bargain. His tradition lived after him. His firm became an octopus of credit...”
Prescient indeed.