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A shaw thing

Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalist
To One Aldwych Hotel for an early-morning briefing about Yorkshire Building Society’s e-bond. After PR doyen David Holmes had wiped the dripping egg from our chins as we consumed the fare that the Northerners call “breakfast teacakes”, communications cutie Tanya Jackson was anxious to dispel any myth that the new savings product was an “Eeh bah gum” bond although the not ungenerous interest rates did seem to go against the stereotype of the tightfisted Northerner.

I was heartened to hear from those that know about these things that the society has “loadsamoney”, with funding for at least another year or two, so is not going to “do a Rock”, otherwise known as sinking like a stone.

Among those risking egg on his face was Matthew Vincent, personal finance editor of the Financial Times, now recovered from the culture shock of moving to the newspaper from Investors’ Chronicle last August. We had last met at an RBS dinner, where Alastair Campbell was the guest speaker and we had marvelled at how long he had managed to address the gathering without saying anything worth remembering at all.

Yorkshire’s IT department has developed an all-singing and dancing registration system for its online accounts that lets you provide a “digital signature” online so there is no need to faff about finding a pen before you send your application off. Steve Finch, one of the Bradford IT boffins had been roped into actually signing up for a bond there and then. Apparently he does this each time he demos the new system, with the result that he has had to pacify the fraud chaps at his bank, who are having pink fits about the peculiar activity going on in his account.

Then I was off to lunch with a shopping centre manager from Aylesbury and an American woman from Indiana. Odd to relate, we three originally met each other online (and no, it wasn’t in a dodgy chatroom, it was on a financial site). Even odder, the American woman has recently married a journalist friend of mine, who is a member of staff on a publication I contribute to. And they say finance isn’t romantic.

Number that is “the answer to life, the universe and everything”: 42 (which indicates that ex-Virgin Money man who has just founded the company 42PR must know an awful lot).

Esther Shaw is a freelance financial journalist
And so to a breakfast meeting with Tim Murphy, founder and managing director of overseas investment company IP Global, who was on a sojourn from his home in Hong Kong to host a series of emerging markets property seminars here in London.

We soon bonded over our cappucinos once I told him I had just returned from watching the HK rugby sevens although while Tim wasted no time in telling me he had been dressed as a female tennis player in the over-18s-only South Stand, I just knew I would not be able to continue with our serious meeting once I had told him I had been one of the “sexy ghostbusters”.

That said, a little later in our meeting, Tim let slip that he had recently found himself on a flight from Oman to Abu Dhabi to view potential investment properties – sitting just a matter of rows behind billionaire property developer Donald “you’re fired” Trump. “I went over to tell him I was involved in property too,” Tim informed me. “And then I – er – got him to sign the copy of his book that I was reading.”

Elsewhere this week, in a meeting with Charcol’s Katie Tucker to discuss the finer points of the Bank of England’s announcement that it is to swap 50bn of gilts for cash for mortgage-backed securities, I learned that the sassy mortgage sage is a bit of a trekkie in her spare time and recently spent an entire day in her North-west London home watching Star Trek films back to back, leaving only fleetingly to nip out and buy the missing episodes.

Finally, I was rather amused to hear that ex-Derry Street hack Justin Harper has made his first foray into am-dram with a starring role in a recent episode of MoneySavingExpert’s magazine show It Pays To Watch. Despite making his debut as a shopkeeper, at the time of going to press, I understand that Justin has not, as yet, been approached for a remake of Open All Hours.

Number of Homeloan honeys who have found themselves sharing the green room at GMTV with swaggering Pop Idol cad Darius Danesh: one.

Number of black shirts the Moneysupermarket team will be sporting at the Headline Money Awards: a lot.

Sam Shaw is on holidayAny Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Helen Pow at helen.pow@ centaur.co.uk telephone: 020 7943 8038

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