Dylan Jones: Man about town

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The Independent Online

Many an idea begins in jest. Especially when you're abroad, in a bar, the sun is setting, and you've just finished work for the day. There were three of us, in the Los Angeles outpost of Trader Vic's, opposite CAA, one of the biggest talent pools in town.

As is the way with men who have made the transition from adolescence to adulthood with only the merest of stopovers in the cocktail bar, we were being careful, asking the barman lots of tedious questions about the amount of alcohol we could expect in our beverage. We soon hit our stride, though, and as we did, Bill started playing with his napkin, drawing odd shapes on it with his monogrammed Mont Blanc (that's just how Bill rolls).

He did this for about 20 minutes, and when he was finished, proudly held it up and said, just a little too loudly, so that some of the silver-fox executives and their "secretaries" turned round to gawp, "Look, I've just invented the Mapkin!".

His napkin contained a particularly inventive map of the world, with an emphasis on the West Coast of America, like one of those cartoon maps you buy in tourist shops. He had obviously been thinking about the commercial possibilities, and seemed convinced the idea could be spun-off, so that every cocktail bar in the world would contain a map of the local neighbourhood, a guide to where you might find the best pizzas, the best Pina Coladas, and where silver foxes might go looking for their next "secretary".

And then six weeks later, Google invented Google Maps, Bill tore up his mapkin and we barred ourselves from Trader Vic's. Forever.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'