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In vino veritas? You're darn tootin'

I was up in London yesterday, doing my best to boost the tourist figures for the old place, when who should I bump into but my old friend Adrian Wardour-Street, the premier PR publicist.

"Hi, Adrian," I said. "How's everything?"

"It's outta sight, cat," he said. "Hey, do you dig the tea scene?"

While I was trying to work out what he meant by this, he steered me into a Russian Tea Room adjacent, and ordered me a pot of Earl Grey.

"I had you down for a latte man, Adrian," I said. "What's all this tea business?"

"Tea is the new scene, man. It's where it's at."

"And why are you talking in this strange 1950s hip style?"

Adrian's shoulders slumped for a moment. Then he recovered.

"I've been looking after the interests of an unreconstructed rock'n'roll star of the 1950s," he said, "and the way he talks has finally got to me. Sorry about that. I must watch it."

"And is tea really making a comeback?"

"You're darn tootin'," he said.

"Darn tootin'?" I said. "Darn tootin'?? That's not 1950s talk. That's 1930s jive talk! What's with you?"

"1930s was the era of tea," he said. "My tea clients are in love with the 1930s. They even like to talk 1930s lingo. Who am I to gainsay them?"

"Aren't you doing any work in the 21st century at all?" I said.

"You bet your sweet bippy," he said, and winced as he said it. "I've just been working with ..." - he looked round to make sure nobody was looking - "Robert Kilroy-Silk."

"Adrian! You should be ashamed of yourself."

"He came to me," shrugged Adrian. "Wanted a new name for his new party. Thought I could come up with one. Something a bit classical and classy."

"You are responsible for the name `Veritas'?"

"You don't like it?"

"It ... It reminds me of something they used to have written on those grand old marble urinals made by people like Doulton. Didn't they have `Veritas' written on them?"

"No, I think it was `Sanitas'."

"Well, same difference."

"Not at all! It just proves that one-word titles have always been winners! Have you noticed that trade unions are all tending to have one-word titles, also with Latin overtones? Like Amicus? Or Corus?"

"I think Corus is a construction company."

"Whatever," said Adrian, unabashed. "Then think of Equity. The actors' union. That's been around for years and years. One-word title. Latin. Doesn't mean much. Sounds great. Ideal."

"Still, Veritas ... People will immediately think of `In Vino Veritas', won't they?"

"Vino," mused Adrian. "That would be a great name for the journalists' union."

"There's already a wine bar in Fleet Street called El Vino," I said. "You couldn't use the same name."

"Don't be daft," said Adrian. "There are already a dozen firms called Veritas. All names and words have been used already. Occasionally you come across a new usage, admittedly. Not long ago I was asked to come up with a new name for an embattled pub group. I had a stroke of genius. Inn-Fighting!"

"Very good," I said. "I bet they didn't use it."

"No," he admitted. "Still, I have earmarked lots of other good words should any other institution come to me asking for a one-word title. Nullity. Quiddity. Probitas. Vanitas. Euphoria. Hysteria ... No, maybe, not Hysteria. But I have got one really good one lined up for the future. A name for a theatre union which would look solely after the interests of unemployed actors."

"Unemployed actors?"

"Negative Equity!"

"It's good," I said.

"Solid, tooty," said Adrian happily.

I wonder what decade he had wandered into this time.