Bunhill: Deliver mail from all evil

It has been noted that abolishing the Royal Mail's monopoly is one thing. Getting anyone else to deliver letters is another. Milkmen have been suggested, as have newspaper boys (and girls). But I favour a group that likes nothing better than to tramp up and down our garden paths - Jehovah's Witnesses.

This should have an interesting effect. Only people who receive lots of registered post - who therefore have to open the door and talk to the postman - would be exposed to teachings from Watchtower. These include, notably, criminals in receipt of summonses, and people with credit cards. I predict that my suggestion would quickly lead to the end of both crime and debt because these miscreants will do anything to avoid such mail. A good thing, surely.

I have been abused for asking for ideas for new taxes - apparently everyone is doing it, and there should probably be a tax on such requests. Fortunately, some of you also provided some nice ideas.

Magy Higgs of Birmingham says that high heels should be taxed at pounds 5 for every half-inch over the inch. This, she says, would be a balance to the size-related tax on the male organ I have already mentioned.

Ms Higgs treads even more perilously on the eggshells of political correctness when she says that people with wide bottoms should be taxed. She points out that bus seats have not got any wider since the war, when everyone was skinnier - as a result, a typical two-person seat now barely accommodates one adult and a toddler. The taxes, she says, would help the national health, tackling both ankle strain and obesity.

By the way, Ms Higgs has asked me to put a small ad in for her. So here it is. "Tall lady available for after-dinner speeches in several European languages. Requires only two courses and taxi fare to and from the event."

What's in a name?

My relative who wore this wig last week asked for new trade names. We need more responses to get a quorum, but here are some from WJ Mason of Norwich to stimulate those little grey cells. For paper hankies, he suggests Atishoo or Noseworthy; for condoms, Well Held; for cigarettes, Undertakers Bonus; for ladies tights, Legs Eleven. Get the idea?

The Economist, the magazine that always knows best, is relentlessly europhile. So how is it that its 1997 desk diary, now on sale, can be bought in Britain, the Czech Republic and Switzerland for pounds 38.50, while our dear partners in the Common Market have to fork out the rather un- neighbourly sum of pounds 43.20? What would that be in euros, I wonder?

Wet response

A strange little note at the bottom of a fax received from Ofwat, the chaps who keep a beady eye on the water companies. "Message," it says, "1) If the attachments are a press notice, confidentiality does not apply. 2) If the attachments are not a press notice, the whole of this transmission is, or may be, confidential to the addressee(s). If you are not the intended addressee, any use is unauthorised." I can't work out whether this was written by a lawyer or a civil servant - maybe it was one of those terrifying creatures who combine both roles.

My agent at last week's annual general meeting of Racal, purveyor of electronics to the world, describes a delicious scene. A po-faced shareholder rose to his feet and asked the assembled directors if the company had a policy on SSMs.

Sir Ernest Harrison, Racal's chairman, looked non-plussed. ANR - Active Noise Reduction - was an old friend; so was MSTAR (Man-portable Surveillance Radar), EW (Electronic Warfare) and all the other acronyms that make technology such fun.

But it was only after a whispered consultation with David Whittaker, company secretary, that his furrowed brow cleared. Sir Ernest deftly thanked the shareholder for his contribution and proceeded to the next question. We know no more, however, about Racal's view of Single Sex Marriages.

Clowning around

I have just discovered British Airways no longer has a Corporate Jester. Last November there was a flurry of interest when BA announced that Paul Birch had taken this title, saying that his job was to challenge existing assumptions and the like. He was obviously very good at it, because in January he was promoted - to head of business planning.

Which explains how it all happened - only someone who spent too much time reading American management books could think of calling himself Corporate Jester in the first place.

I RECEIVED an envelope recently with the words "Odyssey - It's time for a new paradigm" written on the front. I reacted in the only way possible and threw it in the bin. I wonder what it was about.

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