The dastardly Mr Deedes
Unilever is treating Paul Polman’s departure with the reverence usually accorded to dying Popes. But might those be crocodile tears some of the Dutchman’s close executives are sobbing? Keen marathon runner Polman used to regularly ask colleagues to join him on bracing early morning runs, an invitation eager-to-please underlings were obliged to accept. They shouldn’t relax just yet though. New boss Alan Jope, a bald, egg-like creature, prefers the breakneck delights of off-road motorcycling. Mike Ashley arrived at the House of Commons for his select committee hearing accompanied once again by the mother of his three children, Swedishborn Linda Jerlmyr. Perched coquettishly in the background throughout the hearing, fragrant Linda, 52, is thought to have reconciled with Ashley following their 2002 divorce. As well as holding an economics degree, she’s also a successful property developer. So not the sort of spouse to sit at home trimming the crusts off her beau’s banana sandwiches, for which I’m told he has a boundless appetite. Re Ashley, he appears to have procured a new tie. Yesterday he wore a silken powder-blue number retrieved, no doubt, from House of Fraser’s piles of unsold stock. The scruffbag retailer has previously only been spotted wearing his Newcastle United club tie. Perhaps he was too embarrassed to put it on following his side’s 3-0 drubbing at home to West Ham last weekend. Belgium’s wealthiest man, industrialist Albert Frère, who has died aged 92, sounds a queer fish. In 1988, he and his friend, Louis Vuitton tycoon Bernard Arnault, forked out £86m for Bordeaux vineyard Chateau Cheval Blanc. Although less well known globally than Petrus or Latour, many bow-tied tipplers regard Cheval Blanc as the most quaffable of all the great clarets. Monsieur Albert, alas, reputedly only drank water. Here’s a nobby adornment for the dining table this Christmas. Royal gun maker James Purdey & Sons – where a pair of shooters will set you back over £200,000 – has created its own festive crackers, containing a pewter hip flask, a stag horn whistle and various other grouse moor essentials. Cost? A trifling £395 for a box of eight. What ho!