BUNHILL; And don't it make your brown sauce blue?

THE news that Market Harborough Tories are to meet on Wednesday to consider their newly diminished position on the district council put me in mind of recent headlines I have seen about "champagne" and "sushi" socialists who opponents say are just "old" Labour masquerading as something more appetising - although champagne, of course, can be expensive, all froth and likely to leave you with a headache, and sushi expensive, less than half-baked and liable to leave you hungry.

Market Harborough being HP Foods' HQ, what's wrong with "brown-sauce socialism" as the alimentary opposite of the other adjectives? Plenty, sniffs HP's Andrew Marsden, who points out that brown sauce might sound sufficiently proletarian, but not HP, holder of the Royal Warrant. HP, Marsden continues, "heralds a move away from the flighty Eighties and its culinary frissons, and back to a balance of timeless values". Sort of "back to basics" I suggest, but Marsden thinks not.

Nor, apparently, does John Major, recently seen in the West Country dining on fish, chips and mushy peas - not perhaps an obvious meal to ask for at a Michelin-starred joint such as the Castle, but apparently what Number Ten had requested. Major, according to reports, did without brown sauce (a £41m industry).* Does the Castle management draw the line at cette mlange des fruits de haute qualit, perhaps?

Not a bit of it, says mine host Kit Chapman, also author of the forthcoming Great British Chefs Vol 2, who tells me that HP is "indispensable" to the business breakfasts he puts on there.

Indeed, the Castle's own head chef, Paul Vickery, sounds as if he is halfway towards making it compulsory.

He says eggs and bacon just don't work for him without the stuff. I'll have to try that one on the food police at our house next time I reach for the bottle.

* Source: 1994 Retail Sauce Report.

THE YOUNG man pictured below is staring into neither the future nor the past but into the present, and it would seem that it works.

The present is that of technical colleges, institutions busily shedding their overalls to become something between a university and a merchant bank.

In particular, Mark Grayson Wood is looking at the present of Leeds Metropolitan University, an institution somewhat junior, if only as a degree-giver, to that city's unmetropolitan university.

The resin skull Grayson Wood sees before him is a high-speed 3D prototype that can be produced from computer data, in this case a CT scan, and is one of the many products that nowadays may be licensed to local entrepreneurs through Leeds Met's Univentures subsidiary. Many universities these days help local people towards self-employment with products, advice or even money.

Self-employment does seem to be a wise option for the human products of some academies these days. This week, I saw the CV of a young woman, not from a former tech, which alleges her to have been accepted for a course at the "Sourbonne" in Paris. When I demur, she produces a genuine, if similarly odd, letter from this body, written by an employee who spells it the "Sorbone."

Write-on ONE OF the few pleasures that age cannot wither is the reading of other people's letters, all too often so much more interesting than one's own. Rarely, however, is such a feast set before Bunhill as that of the letters written by the employees of the John Lewis Partnership.

These employees, or more accurately "partners", as those who work in co-operatively-owned John Lewis department and Waitrose supermarket stores group prefer to be known, are encouraged to blow whistles and otherwise let off steam.

One officially sanctioned way is to fire off a letter, anonymously if the writer chooses, to the partnership's magazine, The Gazette.

Partners rise to the epistolary challenge, and though some happy few dare write their name, a thousand sobriquets have bloomed over the years. The letters column of the current issue is host to, among others, Hard Man to Please, The Optimist, Even More Curious, Ivor Calculator and Constantly Undersold. Oddly enough, the one correspondent not represented is Anon, so-favoured by the writer of all those boring poems in school anthologies.

There is, however, an Unsigned who is very stroppy about Article 10 of the partnership's constitution, which says that no partner shall be paid more than 25 times the minimum received by "a married man resident in the County of London and having four dependent children".

Article 10, Unsigned suggests, would be more right-on if amended to "no partner shall receive take-home pay of more than 25 times the minimum received by a married person living within the M25".

Furthermore, Unsigned continues, he or she doubts very much whether the chairman still earns no more than 25 times whoever-it-is, although conceding that it is not the chairman's fault if "the market rate for his job has moved up by so much more than that for the humble shop assistant".

Thus far the JLP chairman, Stuart Hampson, is resisting the temptation to burst into print, but personnel director Ian Alexander loyally takes issue with Unsigned.

Article 10, Alexander suggests, is capable of a number of interpretations, and he points to a provision that the chairman is allowed to trouser (not, I trust Unsigned will agree, a sexist verb these days) the equivalent of £5,000 a year in 1900 money, £483,000 today. Silent partner Stuart Hampson's salary is £274,000.

WHAT's in a name? Trouble if you're a Lloyd's Name of course - and I've heard from one, aggrieved not only that Lloyd's gets the sums wrong but that it insists on telling him so in letters that misspell his name.

On the other hand, there is a warning from the 850 ice-cream companies in the Ice-Cream Alliance that another chilly summer like the past two spell disaster. I have that on the authority of the ICA chief executive Lisa Grief.

French attraction

THE STRANGEST things turn up in the post, like a letter from Adele Biss, chairman of the British Tourist Authority, who wants to "launch a national initiative to attract French shoppers to Britain". Isn't Kenneth Clarke doing enough of that already, with his plunging pound?

I SEE that a recruitment agency and an "image consultant" are to start a "best-dressed accountant" competition. I should be careful if I were them in case they put accountants off their profession. Only the other day, I heard a woman say that her husband had become an actuary because "he found accountancy too exciting". Then there's the problem of what exactly is "well-dressed"? At a dinner-and-dance of one financial services firm, the Best-Dressed Female award went to one dressed as a carrot, while the winning Best-Dressed Male was attired as a woman. That may explain why the carrot was seen leaving with a white rabbit.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?