Bunhill: Hold tight - plenty more room at 27,000 feet

WHAT comes down must go up, so maybe we should be wary of the pounds 100 return flights to all parts of Europe offered by Go, British Airways' new cut-price airline which took off for the first time on Friday. And maybe we shouldn't read too much into the decision by Virgin Express to undercut Go by selling tickets for pounds 98. But I prefer to think that airports are the new bus stops.

Of course it may be that the first casualty of cut-price competition is competition, with Go, Virgin Express or the other loose-change airlines going out of business, merging or turning tail on the low-cost market.

Alternatively, it may be that the price war is pursued so aggressively that, as costs soar high above returns, "no frills" airlines become "no bills" airlines. In which case expect to be getting up before you go to bed to make a flight that touches down before you wake up from the sleep you never had. But don't expect to wait in the comfort of a terminal; you'll be standing in a queue at an aircraft stop on a runway miles from anywhere, complaining that you've waited seven hours for a jet and then four come along all at once.

And imagine the scene as you open your wallet on the new ultra-low-cost pay-the-pilot airplane, only to be greeted with the response: "Can't you read? It says here 'No Notes'!" As you disembark in desperate search of a shop that will sell you a bar of chocolate you don't want to eat so you can break into your pounds 10 note, you'll hear an elderly lady enquiring of the pilot, "I'm going to Copenhagen - can you put me off?" "Certainly, madam", he'll reply, "modern architecture has destroyed much of its idiosyncratic charm."

All this is the price you pay for convenience, however. So while the airlines are about it, could they arrange to drop passengers off outside their front doors? All they'd need would be request buttons next to the seats, a set of parachutes and a recorded message saying "mind the gap".

IN THE US, so the Oprah Winfrey Show tells us, they're very busy empathising and stressing the benefits of quality time. So busy, in fact, that Americans can't find the quality time to remember to send birthday cards to their loved ones, and are turning instead to a company which will do it for them.

Cards Remembered (or Romance is Dead Inc, as it should be known) was founded earlier this decade by Beth Bonness to meet the needs of people with burnt-out memories. At an average price of $4 (pounds 2.50) a card she will store a list of important dates for each customer on computer and, a week before the big day, mail a greetings card to the client in a stamped, addressed envelope. This will be contained within a larger envelope so that, says Ms Bonness, no recipient "knows I'm there". All the client then has to do is sign the card and send it on. Well that's the idea; in all probability, the busy executive will get his secretary to forge his signature.

Cards Remembered began trading in 1995 and this year expects to turn over more than $100,000. That's roughly 25,000 cards, or several thousand Americans who really should spend more time with their families. Still, it's the thought that counts ... for nothing.

The painful truth

TWO WEEKS ago, the Counter Spy Shop of Mayfair broke under cover of the night into these pages to announce two of its latest business-intelligence products: a video surveillance system and a telephone-tap detector. Now it's up to its dastardly work again, this time using the conduit of Bunhill to tell the world about its "hand-held truth machine" - or lie detector to you and me.

The VSA-15 uses voice stress analysis, picking through taped business conversations to detect what are called "subaudible microtremors" - which mean the speaker is telling a whopper. A spokeswoman for the shop tells me that the product costs pounds 2,700, and I have no reason to doubt this because her voice maintained a reassuring monotone.

At this kind of price, the main takers will be employers that want to play Big Brother and verify the excuses made by bad debtors, absentee workers and so on. Most of us, therefore, will be denied the chance to put various highly suspect people to the test - like those who now claim to support Arsenal or to watch Lithuanian concept films. But we should also make sure that our nearest and dearest haven't got hold of the VSA- 15, otherwise the truth will out about that greetings card.

TO CHANNEL 4 and the Paragon Entertainment Corporation of Canada, which have just lost the licensing rights to screen Life of Brian after a High Court action, and could now be sued for breach of copyright by the Monty Python team, there is only one thing left to say: always look on the bright side of life.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test