In Brief

Did you know ?

.…that the inspiration behind the name of Tomb Raider's computer sex-goddess Lara Croft was actually a chartered accountant?

Apparently ex-PwC employee Laura Croft attended a marketing meeting between PwC and games company Eidos, which explained it was going to call the 3D star Louise Cruz. But they were so taken with Laura that they decided to make her sound a little more exotic and came up with Lara.

She just has to be the coolest accountant in town.

So bill me

Evidence suggests there is such a thing as a free lunch after all, but perhaps only after a few expensive drinks.

Four City bankers have threatened to sue restaurateur Gordon Ramsay after they were exposed as spending £44,002 on dinner (read drinks) at his restaurant.

The four Barclays Capital employees - one of whom is Muslim and doesn't drink alcohol - wanted to remain anonymous after celebrating a major coup on the bonds market. But somehow their details got out.

Ramsay decided to throw the food in for nothing after the guests worked their way through, in order: a bottle of 1982 Montrachet, a snip at £1,400; three bottles of 1945 Petrus Pomerol at £11,600; the 1946 vintage of the same at £9,400; the 1947 at £12,300; dessert wine at £9,200; and 'other' drinks at £102 (thirsty work, bond trading).

According to Barclays, they spent their own money and not the company's.

Taxing boldly

Space really is the final frontier for the taxman. Particularly in Sacramento, where Los Angeles officials have decided it would be a good thing to assess the property tax liability of satellites.

Given that each of them costs as much as $100m, that's a whole lotta tax revenue.

The idea is that the tax on at least eight satellites floating above the state would generate millions of dollars in income for the states' schools and hospitals. The only problem is that the satellites are 22,300 miles up, which would make routine inspections tricky, and, er, astronomically costly.

Calling names

The Inland Revenue said last month that it was uncertain how the rumour that it was considering a name change got about.

It said that it 'couldn't categorically say that there won't be a name change', but added that it 'would be unheard of', given the ministerial decisions and Parliamentary time that would be involved.

Wherever the story came from, it seems that the Revenue could save a million or 10 by paying taxpayers for their ideas. They've come forward in droves with ideas for new names, including Inland Revenge, Taxignia, National Wealth Service and OPERATE - Office for Public Expenditure, Resources and Tax Evaluation - to name a few.

Here at Accountancy, we're rather fond of ICBINM - I Can't Believe It's Not Mine. Any further suggestions gratefully received.

Happy ending

US tax services firm H&R Block heaved a sigh of relief last month, after friends and relatives persuaded the winner of its $1m promotion to claim his prize just three days before the deadline.

The Million Dollar Giveaway had threatened to turn into a fiasco because the winner, a tax client from New Jersey, refused to believe he'd won. The firm's marketing department was forced to go public with its problem in an attempt to convince him he wasn't being conned. At the time, chief marketing officer David Byers said the firm just wanted a 'happy ending'.

Well, it seems they got it. According to Block, the winner - who wants to remain nameless - finally came forward after relatives saw the publicity. He has now signed the papers and received his prize.

Seriously now!

Employees nationwide would be more than happy to work for Gary, Martin Clunes' character from Men Behaving Badly, according to a new poll on fantasy bosses. Accountants, on the other hand, are not so charmed by Gary's laddish behaviour. They would much rather take orders from 'M', as played by Judi Dench in the most recent James Bond films.

Online recruitment network has also revealed a penchant among accountants for Basil Fawlty and Agent Scully from The X-Files.

Career psychologist Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips has a deep insight into why accountants prefer Dame Judi's 'M'. 'It suggests they take their jobs seriously,' she says, 'and are drawn to more intelligent, powerful and professional bosses, who they see as good role models.'

However, everyone agrees when it comes to Roy Cropper from Coronation Street. His dithering indecisiveness attracted only 1% of the votes from the accountancy sector and 3% of the national vote.

Bargain basement

If you're thinking of relocating your business, the bargain destination of 2001 is Australia, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's most recent cost of living survey. That is, of course, unless you're prepared to run the risk of setting up in Tehran or Belgrade, where it would certainly be cheap, if not safe.

The cost of living in Australia, says the EIU, has fallen dramatically this year because of the weakening Australian dollar. Sydney, for example, has fallen from 54th place to 72nd in the league, which means that 'while as little as a year ago it was on a par with cities such as Brussels or Milan, nowadays it is no more expensive than Panama City or Montevideo'.

The most expensive cities in the world are Japanese - Osaka, Kobe and Tokyo - followed by Hong Kong, Libreville (Gabon) and Oslo. London comes sixth in the table ahead of New York and Zurich (equal seventh), and Singapore, Taipei and Tel Aviv (equal ninth).

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