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Shiny high society

The picturesque North Yorkshire town of Harrogate was overwhelmed by a horde of dark-suited mortgage executives last week as they congregated for the annual Building Societies&#39 Association conference. One onlooker described the scene as The Sopranos Goes to Yorkshire.

While headaches reigned supreme as brokers and lenders whiled away the evening playing dramatic pool competitions in the hotel bar, no delegates could be accused of having dirty shoes in the morning.

Someone in the organisation of the event had obviously decided that the way to a mortgage broker&#39s heart is not through a life&#39s subscription to String-fellows but through his shoes. One stall in the exhibition came complete with a boot boy prepared to polish the hundreds of pairs of black leather shoes present at the conference to a healthy shine. The Diary would like to track down the delegate who sat on the high shoe-shine throne eating his dinner while getting his leather buffed.

Portman Building Society&#39s Robert Sharp was match-fit for the seminar he chaired on handling the media at the conference. After having to deal with revelations in national newspapers about a romance with a colleague, Sharp acknowledged that he obviously the right person to be chairing the session.

But the questions, to the Diary&#39s disappointment, dealt with carpetbaggers and rate cuts, not fielding questions from hardened Daily Mail news hacks.

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