Whyte's argument appears to be that business types everywhere would benefit, in vast but unspecified ways, from exploring the bits of their souls generally left untended in the garden of mezzanine financing and departmental restructuring - and that they can do this by the simple expedient of listening to a chap with a Ted Hughes accent and a David Lodge haircut declaiming poetry to them, three days a month.
Against all human likelihood, Mr Whyte and his repertoire of canonical verses has now been signed up by such giant corporations as Boeing, AT&T and the Arthur Andersen accountancy group, to declaim anything from Beowulf to Philip Larkin at their thunderstruck middle managers.
Which poems, though, should Mr Whyte urge on his boardroom audience? I can imagine him reciting Masefield's "Cargoes" to a roomful of Euro- marketeers as an awful warning against crappy exports ("Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack...With a cargo of Tyne coal/Road- rail, pig-lead/Firewood, ironware and cheap tin trays"). The senior suits at Boeing would surely be silenced by Yeats's "An Irish Airman Foresees his Death" with its apt opening ("I know that I shall meet my fate/Somewhere amid the clouds above") and its closing prediction about the futility of pension schemes ("I weighed it all, brought all to mind/The years to come seemed waste of breath...").
But even as I begin to sneer, what is this I see in the first issue of The Journal of the Blake Society, but a tribute from Sir Peter Parker, the former head of British Rail, to William Blake, the poet and confidant of angels? "I find it enlivening and practical to think of Blake in everything I do," he writes "Usually I take some of his work with me, within reach in the office, even in the car, certainly in the sky. I need to remember the Blakean directness, the looking through the eye, not with it. His influence on whatever I have done has been unmeasurable..." Gosh. If this is what poetry does to your head, perhaps Arthur Andersen & Co should have a small, corporate rethink.
Naturally, the Weasel likes to keep in touch with events in what I believe is called the "Hit Parade". But events in the career of someone, or something, called Bjork have left me baffled.
It seems that Ms Bjork (which I gather rhymes with "berk"), a spiky-haired songstress from swinging Reykjavik, has had the uncomfortable experience of seeing her new album Post deleted within an hour of going on sale. It seems that Post incorporated a "sample" of a piece by a rival artist, one Scanner. Mr Scanner was offered pounds 1,000 for this alleged act of artistic appropriation but turned it down, and now m'learned friends are circling the case like flies around a dung-based snack.
Scanner's record company is, naturally, more aggrieved about this than the artiste himself, but when you hear the magnitude of the borrowing you can see their point. This is not a matter of lifting a few notes, or even a tune, from some non-copyright source, as people used to (Those Were The Days, weren't they?). It seems Bjork incorporated 90 seconds of Scanner's magnum opus "Mass Observation", of which 35 seconds is "completely unadulterated", according to the plaintiff.
Ninety seconds? In my day that would have constituted half a song. Indeed, the record which started the whole business from which Ms Bjork, Mr Scanner, their record companies and legal representatives have been doing so well, namely Elvis Presley's "That's All Right", is precisely 1 minute 56 seconds long.
I fear, however, that Scanner's legal action may not be the last in the chain. "Mass Observation" is apparently composed from "distorted and manipulated telephone feedback". British Telecom are probably already preparing their copyright claim.
Those who find books hard going will have discovered plenty to delight them at an exhibition I've just attended: "Multimedia '95".
If I may quote the show's publicity, "Multimedia '95 is about business now. Real change and real benefits are taking shape within corporate environments, radical opportunities are applying fascinating technological progress." And to think that people worry about computers affecting literacy.
What this gobbledegook adds up to is a new form of communication based on staring at stuff on a computer screen. Not boring old words, naturally, but still and moving pictures. Not only that, but it's "interactive", giving you some degree of control over what happens next. These things are put together by a process called "authoring", although of actual authors (an expensive commodity) there is little sign: they've been replaced by what one computer company charmingly terms "subject matter experts".
Fighting for mastery in this war are two rival technologies, CD-Rom and (groan) the Internet. While the latter often seems bewildering to amateurs, the former has the advantage of being perfectly comprehensible to accountants: multimedia companies can make objects, in this case desirable silver disks like the ones used for music, and sell them for large sums of money. A typical example might cost you pounds 50.
Gratifyingly, however, the "state of the art" stuff at the show seemed just as flaky and buggy and generally dismal as it is in Dixon's. One multimedia production company had a "continuous" display of their output until it suddenly stopped dead on something called "The World Of Porn" - this may possibly be an example of a Seedy Rom. A man on a disk manufacturer's stand had to open a trapdoor and restart his computer to get his own disks to run properly. Another, flogging the software for actually making the "content", had to stand back and let his demonstration program run away with itself because he couldn't find a way of stopping, slowing or reversing it.
So much for interactivity, the supposed advantage of multimedia over traditional media. At least with a book you can start and finish when you like, turn the pages at your own pace, and the voice that reads to you is your own.
So did you go to the Royal Gala last Monday? A fantastic show, as you'd expect from the combined talents of the promoter Harvey ("Tasteful") Goldsmith, the workaholic conductor Carl ("Fingers") Davis, and the resourceful staff of Kenwood House, where they make you pay a paltry pounds 11 for the once-in- a-lifetime experience of sitting on the grass. But I mustn't cavil: the Queen was there, the RPO's concert wing played a blinder (the main orchestra was giving a similar concert in San Francisco, which suggests an odd split of loyalties) and the Chinese violinist Maxim Xue Wei tore into her compendium of Carmen hits like one possessed.
There was only one thing wrong, and that was the UN dimension. This, let me remind you, was a show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. And the programme and choice of soloists (we were told by one of the sponsors) was "meant to reflect the themes of the UN's anniversary year, accessibility and young people". No doubt. But can I have been alone in think that it would have been more appropriate, more in keeping with UN behaviour, if the orchestra had trooped on in powder-blue helmets, stood around cluelessly fingering their instruments without ever getting the order to play them, had a bit of a row with the Eastern soloists, then gradually and shambolically trooped off again? The fireworks were nice, thoughReuse content