DIARY: Bates UK almost goes out in a blaze of glory at Cordiant's fire sale

Talk about going out in a blaze of glory. Bates UK, soon to depart for agency Valhalla, got the equivalent of a Viking funeral last week. Almost.

However, in the true Cordiant spirit of anti-climax, the old warrior was denied a fitting goodbye ceremony. Instead of being laid to rest aboard a blazing longship, the agency suffered no more than a slight singeing as a result of a blaze that broke out only yards from its Paddington offices.

Still, it was a pretty close call. At one time, the inferno, which was burning out of control in a nearby 12-storey office block, roared within 60 feet of the agency.

"It was like the Blitz," the Bates managing director, Chris Herd, exaggerated.

Herd was leaving an IPA council meeting when he got a call warning him that Bates, soon to be subsumed into the WPP empire, might be about to go up in smoke before falling into Sir Martin Sorrell's clutches.

Fortunately for Sorrell, the blaze was brought under control six hours later by 100 firemen. And the only damage to Bates was the loss of a few panes of glass, some cracked by the heat, some knocked out by the hoses being carried by the men in helmets as they dashed up to the Bates roof to get closer to the flames.

Bad luck though on 141, the Bates integrated marketing specialist, where they were working late into the night putting the finishing touches to a presentation at the time. Not only was the team ordered to evacuate the building, but many of them couldn't even go home, as the underground car park had been sealed off. And who was to have been on the receiving end of all 141's late-night toil? Why, it just happens to have been the Fire Service.

Of course, fires are no laughing matter. But they do come in handy during silly season, when Diary stories are thin on the ground. And if anyone out there feels like carelessly discarding a cigarette or leaving the taps running overnight, you'd be doing us a big, big favour ...