BUNHILL : It's hard cheese for Wallace and Gromit

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The Independent Online
I don't want to give away the plot of that poignant, Oscar-winning film A Close Shave, but I can tell you that there is a seminal moment that hinges on different views about Wensleydale cheese.

If you have seen any film featuring Wallace and Gromit you will know the importance of cheese to their Weltanschauung. But it is only in A Close Shave that Wensleydale is identified as the rondpoint around which this cheesy interest circulates.

Wensleydale Dairy Products can see a gift horse when it presents itself. Its management bought the factory in Hawes, North Yorkshire, after Dairy Crest tried to close it down in 1992, and has since turned it into a moneyspinner.

The managers saw A Close Shave and were on the phone to the BBC before you could say "Sean the sheep". And they now have a nice round cheese on sale, complete with a picture of Wallace and Gromit in the middle of it.

They started producing 500 a day a few weeks ago, and have already had to double production. As Wallace might say: "A very nice bit of marketing, Gromit."

THE REST of this column is about competitions. If you do not like competitions, please do not read it.

First, I asked you to think up slogans designed to sell "old" products to young people, as is now the fashion. Specifically, I mentioned zimmer frames, Grecian 2000 and bus passes. I had many replies - thank you.

Robin Colmer of Surrey takes an investment view. "Nineteen ninety-six - a vintage year for zimmers: invest in one now", and "There may be no buses when you are old: do you wish to miss an opportunity? Buy a bus pass now."

Mark Hastilow of Tamworth has an aggressive tone. "Grecian 2000 - she left you for an older guy? Give him this." And "What's big, red and picks up girls? Get a bus pass."

June (I think, but it could be Steve or anything really) Hall of Dolgellau comes up with the neat "Think ahead - zap your grey early before it zaps you."

But my favourites in the snappy category are these, both for the Zimmer frame, from Laurence Manning of north London: "The chair just became seatless" and "The cool tube to hang on".

Chris Sladen of Ealing, who can't stop winning Bunhill competitions, has, however, conjured up some weird and wonderful images, the first of which we have been moved to illustrate.

"You'll never walk alone with a zimmer frame. Essential kit for England supporters at Euro '96. Knock over a pensioner, take the frame, file the legs to points, hobble through the turnstile, then up and at 'em. Those krauts and dagoes can't stand cold aluminium."

"Free travel - and everything else. Open granny's bag, take the bus pass. If it's plastic it will get you through most locks; also useful for cutting that yummy white powder. If it's a card, just use it for a roll-up. Now you're travelling."

For both of which he earns yet another bottle of fizz. But I'll give one to Laurence Manning as well. What a nice Bunhill I am.

Fantasy firms

I HAVE decided to stimulate the economy of the world. Reading the business pages of the newspapers, as I occasionally do, it is impossible not to notice that business people have run out of ideas. All they can do is to take each other over, which is nice for merchant bankers, lawyers and so on, but not very much help to anyone else (especially the employees).

I cannot explain why there has been a sudden plunge in corporate IQs, but there is something Bunhill readers - celebrated for their razor wits - can do about it. That is to think up new things companies can make or do.

How many times have you asked yourself: why doesn't someone do such-and such, or make so-and so? If you are an entrepreneur, you may have gone off and fixed the problem. If you are not, the best thing you can do is to tell other people about it.

Here are two for starters, dragged from my bewigged braincells:

1) A chain of shops that mend things. Don't throw that toaster away just because it's stopped working - someone can mend it. Lost a rivet - get it riveted!

This will infuriate manufacturers (mostly foreign), save you money, and must be the next logical step in environmentalism.

2) A Swim-Man. I am unfit because I do not swim. I do not swim because it is boring. It would not be boring if I could listen to The Archers. I cannot listen to The Archers because there is no waterproof radio. Someone please supply!

Bottles of fizz will be handed out for the best suggestions. The long- term reward will, of course, be that we will all be more prosperous.

MY HUGE staff has been struggling personfully with the mailbags containing entries to the great Bunhill/easyJet "What to put on a sickbag" competition. They have to be sent by mail coach all the way to Luton, where the folk from easyJet will have a good look at them. Results will be announced soon (I hope).