12 FEBRUARY 1972, Page 24


The Department of Trade and Industry are trying to reshape the Monopolies Commission with greater representation for the smaller business and the consumer.

But who is responsible for this week's ludicrous choice of Mrs Jacqueline Inchbald to the Commission? Mrs Inchbald is a forever young divorcee who, starting life with few advantages and from a humble background, married the successful Chelsea decorator Michael Inchbald in the early fifties. As part of her divorce settlement she received her husband's magnificent house in Milner Street (which he subsequently was able to buy back) and, benefiting from the Inchbald name started an enterprise — the ' Inchbald School of Design.' She has, apparently, written short articles on housekeping for the Financial Times, whose Sheila Black was allowed to give her school a big plug last Saturday.

Michael Inchbald has done work on the QE2 and lavish redecoration for Lord Perth and the Crown Commissioners in Carlton House Terrace. His style is modern House and Garden, cherubs and gilt. Jacqueline Inchbald is a more feminine frilly Ideal Homes style for newly-weds on a budget.

Mrs Inchbald is now reported to have an eye on Westminster. She mixed with delegates at the Conservative Conference at Brighton — on a Financial Times press ticket — and her ambition is to be on the candidates list and be a lady Member of Parliament.

Monopolies Commission reform is in the air and members now appointed realise their jobs are transient.

Whoever put the redoubtable Mrs Inchbald (whose business experience is limited to her Eaton Square design school) forward for the Commission must surely have known this. Membership of the Monopolies Commission is too important to be left to female decorators, however shrewd, or even to someone whose qualification is that they have written on occasions for the woman's page of the Financial Times.

There are many women — if it is a woman they need — with talent, experience and even education much better suited. What about Betty Knightley, Margot Naylor, Sally Vincent or even dear old Sheila Black herself?

Bank deposits

Like most laymen I have been surprised by the apparently high level of merchant bank deposits and have wondered who prefer them to the joint stock banks. No one can believe they are safer. Research reveals that there is a co-relation between a merchant bank's deposits and its control of investment trusts and fiduciary funds. It is apparently quite proper for a merchant bank to take money managed on behalf of a charity, unit trust, or investment trust group, and deposit it with its own banking department. These funds are in turn often drawn on by yet another department of the merchant bank for the speculation of the day. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it shows that no decent merchant bank should be put together without a lot of customers' money being at hand to dip into when needed. The sine qua non for merchant banking is management of investment trusts etc., and not just membership of the Acceptance House Association, as it used to be.

An amusing seasonal game is the dressing up of end of year deposits by the banking departments of merchant banks when barrages of telephoning to friendly banks, who know the favour will be returned, is the rule. A few weeks ago I mentioned in? moulder Mr R. R. Moss, who has, equals and no superior in the P' business as to return on sales. He £291,980 on sales of E761,466, you remember. Mr Moss's PRO has been on and 0)6' doesn't want any of you who are Iron injection moulding business looking , his works, as he is a member °' Society of Inventors and has Tradetn interesting equipment. He has cus:r4 who do not want people snooping r36'd see what is being made for them arli much they are paying. Since 1966lli„5 Moss Ltd has not only increased t ployees from eighty-eight to 108 doubled his sales and earnings. Wes you will be glad to know the ban d°,0 extend to me; and Mr Moss has eg:hi a cordial invitation to look round. I shall be finding out some usefnl should I want to go into the inlastic„s0 but — sorry, I can't let any of Y3" what I see. e orney's daughter, in the dusk with

lf] I.

t tight behind her. the true appeal . of Chelsea is in its 1311 Panst,inhabitants, and a more engaging i) 0f screwballs no writer could wish : ? tt ;"counter. For obvious reasons, I tend jgard the various Chelsea generations a" Many football teams. Sometimes the hada lean time, at others it Positiv ind.Y burst with stars. It had great -"vtualists1, like Sir Robert Walpole, sMtlehow managed to reconcile the claims of a mistress and a bodyht of twenty stones; or Samuel Pepys, Che°1 t°0k almost everybody's wife to DI v.,,,s,,ea but his own. It had brilliant team tirs, like Peter Jones, whose shop fell arid Hans Sloane, whose buildings aYed up. b1143,112 the reason why this book is able to 41;4' to a climax of solemn humour is that Cree-1,` came a time, after Ranelagh and the -,.,c)rile, when the Chelsea team became foo„,,-,cst dazzling in all Europe. At centre rhet.,;,r,d, firing cannonballs of smouldering litieu,"`'e at the opposition, was that welll'he'rl inventor of the French Revolution, 414as Carlyle, whose wife Jane sat titibelY ori the touchline slicing lemons of erity1h,evahle acidulousness on which post L Whiright. choke. Round the corner was si batit-'er, and round another the amazing ( bestie Gabriel Rossetti with his sad ik aain:Yi th Cheyne Gardens, poor little ! tlerst;;ns, whom he loved so well and un, divecl'u so little that when a peacock r Phaehtalder a sofa and died (how Pre-RatItkieri: can you get?), Rossetti could not ancl why " the lovely creature i , Three sPood to me." th,e thr,rnOre I read about the Victorians, 81sterlii-re I begin to realise how persee4e,'Y Rossetti keeps stealing all the With -ivr.111 a only twenty pages he runs away t. Way urs Holfne's book, just as he ran NoitWith William Gaunt's The Pre-Ra' peivilis eed 7ragedy and most of the other `11,glanribooks about artistic life in the h4lleut-",of the period. Mrs Holme's exuook never quite recovers from • ker,s bravura performance, although ‘'Vil' su does his best by remarking to t'vri ri L'Steer, who got himself knocked tarefteY a car at World's End, "Be 1!i• ng hi,have no desire to be the greatest move vaulter." And Mrs Holme is not Was ona feW ripostes herself — " Maclise 44 -e of the rareP eoP le (Hans Christian ic 1/4r e"en W another) who appreciated as rhe'uahie complaints against a highly Driot 1) • ion and a eted . ,00k concern an omission ,.„ . i he omission, somehow to be exis that of the est-known of all 311ce 10das,-"thistitutions, e its football club. ti , ess, ,q` club has grown staid with , eitie 'Jut till the 'forties its eccenihko 8, its -Ilion -razY fluctuations of form, its iau 4tio -s 441 treu ev pasion ° i f trophies, made t a tl hiusiti, eireusitirte, so beloved that no comec'atle. cralleakil stage a ion would dare step on a toll . at the omiluibth,out carrying at least 14° In th s expense. Chelsea's corill o There was s ilrty t e mid-1930s, when Che s Drehe goals Prevent its opponents from nsibie , Was rendered no less cornau,.;t book L'Y the fact that they had on " Scot6 flu s_, the goalkeepers of England . And the ultimate irony came in 1955, when, after fifty years they managed to win the championship, and there was a press strike which blanketed the last month of the season from view, so nobody ever did get to find out how Chelsea had done it. As to the misprint, on page 21 of Chelsea we read of Henry VIII "with his arm round the Chancellor's neck." Surely this should read, "with his hand round the Chancellor's throat "?

Looking out of the window soon after dawn, I saw that the air outside seemed to be sparkling in the chilly sunshine; and I mean that not as any figure of speech, but literally, for the effect was as if an infinite number of feathery diamonds was adrift in the atmosphere, each one flashing intermittently as it gyrated on its slow course down to the earth. It was plain then that hard weather had arrived at last. This descent of minute particles of ice, each one no bigger than the smallest speck of dust, occurs only when the air temperature is exceptionally low, so low that the particles travel down from the upper atmosphere untouched by any hint of thaw, which would encourage the formation of more normally-sized snowflakes. The phenomenon, for all its message of acute cold, is brilliantly beautiful, accompanied as it usually is by sunshine; and it is also rather rare. Gilbert White, in his Natural History of Selborne, observed it as a novelty in the extremely hard winter of 1784: A circumstance that I must not omit, because it was new to us, is that on Friday, December 10, being bright sunshine, the air was full of icy spiculae, floating in all directions, like atoms in a sunbeam let into a dark room. We thought them at first particles of the rime falling from my tall hedges; but were soon convinced to the contrary, by making our observations in open places where no Time could reach us. Were they watery particles of the air frozen as they floated, or were they evaporations from the snow frozen as they mounted?

It was clear to me, when I went outside into the bright, frozen world, that there was little chance of any evaporation from the thin powdering of snow which lay on the ground. The maximum-and-minimum thermometer had registered some twenty degrees of frost during the night and the mercury was still far below freezing point. There was no warmth in the sunlight, and the air was still and dry, with a razor-like sharpness that instantly penetrated even my bulky veteran of a duffle-coat. The garden was full of birds desperate for food, and in the village street the old ladies scuttled into the shop with a rather similar air of outrage and urgency, not even pausing to commiserate with each other until the door was safely shut against the freezing atmosphere.

The sting of hard weather always seems greater When it comes upon us suddenly, as this had done. Going up the hillside, I followed a path which only a matter of hours earlier had been soft and muddy; the footprints I had then made, and the more emphatic churnings of the soft earth which someone on horseback had left behind, were still there, but rock-hard in the frozen ground. There were the tracks of a rabbit and the marks made by birds, all frozen immovably. The grass seemed brittle beneath my feet and made soft crunching noises as I walked along. A pair of horses, trying forlornly to graze an iron pasture, came up to me as if eager to lodge a complaint against the harsh turn of events, although I noticed, as they pushed forward for attention, that each seemed to inhabit his own private envelope of warm air.

The countryside seemed suddenly bereft of life. Except for a few pigeons and the inevitable blackbird issuing panicky alarmcalls from the other side of a hedge, there was scarcely a living thing to be seen or heard. A cold silence had invaded the world. When I paused by the edge of the wood there was no sound except for faint, mysterious tinklings as the frost continued with its work. All colour, too, seemed to have been drained from the scene, leaving only white and a chill grey; from fifty yards distance a spot of red stood out from the field's edge like a beacon, and then turned out to be only a spent cartridge which would have passed unnoticed twenty-four hours earlier. Yet the sun shone steadily from a sky of pale blue and the light was brilliantly clear.

As the day wore on the sky slowly filled up with clouds and the air lost its cutting keenness. The sun went down like a disc of intense crimson in a sea of deepening grey; and then, as the barn-owl hooted hollowly about the village, the snow began to fall: not tiny, brilliant spiculae this time but large, fleecy flakes, sailing down confidently out of the night to submerge everything beneath a white ocean.