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WINDFALL TAX PROFS WON'T BE FOBBED OFF

THE City may have slammed ideas of a windfall tax on bonuses yesterday, but the group of university professors who originally mooted the idea in a letter to The Guardian are far from deterred.<br /><br />The dusty academics&rsquo; plans, which would see the money from the tax injected back into public services, were labelled &ldquo;gratuitous&rdquo;, &ldquo;impossible&rdquo; and &ldquo;absurd&rdquo; by high-profile City figures keen to safeguard the banking sector&rsquo;s bulging pay packets.<br /><br />But Professor Stefano Harney of Queen Mary University of London, the leader of the group, says the academics have already written to schools secretary Ed Balls, shadow chancellor George Osborne and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to try and secure political backing for the motion.<br /><br />What is more, the group has already garnered support from a powerful corner: Labour pressure group Compass, with which the academics are now working on its High Pay Commission, fighting the evils of sky-high compensation.<br /><br />Something tells me we haven&rsquo;t seen the back of this one yet.<br /><br /><strong>PANTOMIME TIME</strong><br />Roll up, roll up: it&rsquo;s the time of year for accountancy giant Pricewaterhouse- Coopers to start thinking about its annual pantomime.<br /><br />Yes, it is only August, but there are costumes to be found, songs and lines to be learnt and parts to be cast before the performance next January &ndash; and PwC will be embarking on auditions for its staff in the next few weeks.<br /><br />Apparently, this year&rsquo;s offering will be Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, though the dwarves in question have been renamed Chief, Smiley, Snotty, Jumpy, Dozy, Grunty and Tiny, since those spoilsports at Disney have trademarked the original Happy, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Sleepy, Doc and Dopey.<br /><br />Auditioning accountants will have to perform in an X-Factor sing-off, followed by a group dancing contest and a short stint of acting. <br />Oh, to be a fly on the wall.<br /><br /><strong>LOVE NOR MONEY</strong><br />At last, someone has decided to turn the tables and make a bit of money at Bernie Madoff&rsquo;s expense, for a change.<br /><br />60-year-old Sheryl Weinstein, who has made no secret of the fact that Madoff stole her family&rsquo;s savings, has written a book claiming she had an affair with the imprisoned $65bn fraudster. The tome &ndash; which (hold on to your stomachs) will contain &ldquo;some intimate descriptions&rdquo; &ndash; is currently open for advance orders through various sites on the web and will set determined masochists back $23.99 a pop.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s name? &ldquo;Madoff&rsquo;s Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie, and Me&rdquo;.<br /><br /><strong>STICKS AND STONES</strong><br />More on the kerfuffle over at JJB earlier this week, when emails from executive chairman Sir David Jones were leaked to the press containing rather unflattering descriptions of his colleagues.<br /><br />The only one of the unfortunate victims of the tirade still to be on the board of JJB is non-executive director Alan Benzie, who Jones labelled &ldquo;unprofessional&rdquo; and &ldquo;not a man of substance&rdquo;.<br /><br />Harsh words indeed, though a little bird tells me the animosity stemmed from a disagreement between Benzie and Jones on the appointment of then-commercial director David Madeley to the board.<br /><br />&ldquo;Benzie disagreed with the other directors about the appointment and said so in no uncertain terms,&rdquo; a friend tells me. &ldquo;He used some quite robust language&hellip;&rdquo;<br /><br />Given the events of earlier this year, when Madeley &ndash; then finance director &ndash; stepped down from the almost-bankrupt company, perhaps Jones should have heeded Benzie&rsquo;s advice.<br /><br /><strong>HIGH SEAS</strong><br />Forget charging for online newspaper content: Rupert Murdoch has recently got his fingers into another sweet little money-spinning pie.<br /><br />Murdoch&rsquo;s yacht Rosehearty, a 56-metre aluminium beauty with an interior by French designer Christian Liagre, has been spotted cruising about in Alaska recently with the media tycoon on board (and his guest of honour, Braveheart actor Mel Gibson, so rumour would have it).<br /><br />But Murdoch has now offered up the vessel to be chartered by the week for up to 10 people, and the privilege will cost you &ndash; &euro;220,000, or &pound;190,000, to be precise. Can&rsquo;t be bad.<br /><br /><strong>ALL THAT GLITTERS</strong><br />And finally, while we&rsquo;re on the subject of stunning mega-yachts, a dose of optimism about the state of the world economy, courtesy of one of The Capitalist&rsquo;s City chums who has decamped to St Tropez for the month of August.<br /><br />&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t move for kids driving around in Lamborghinis and the &lsquo;haves and have-yachts&rsquo; competing for helicopter air space,&rdquo; he tells me. &ldquo;And the bars are back to charging &euro;5,000 for &pound;200 bottles of Cristal&hellip;&rdquo;<br /><br />It looks like decadence is back to stay.<br />