Bunhill: Touchtone of our times: you are held in a queue

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The Independent Online
Are you trapped in the depths of a Dantesque digital office inferno? Do you struggle to keep up with endless streams of internal e-mail? Are you inundated with intranets, laden down with log-ons and swamped by swipe cards? Somewhere there is a better place, or so I've heard.

Word has it that at the Ford Motor Company headquarters in Brentwood, senior executives are spared the enslavements of the information age. Where once high-tech business gadgetry was the status symbol of the big beast in the corporate jungle, the Ford big-wigs have eschewed such virtual vices and communicate by handwritten memos and even by speaking to people.

Now Bunhill is not one to spread rumour and innuendo without making a few cursory - ahem, sorry, careful cross-checking - phone calls before comitting to print. The Ford press office offered little enlightenment. After a minute or two on hold - with no reassuring music and only the echo of the ether for comfort - I was told that they didn't know who to pass me on to, that I should call the customer services department, and that they couldn't transfer me as they were on an external number. Righty ho.

"Welcome to the Ford Customer Assistance Centre. If you have a touch- tone telephone please press 1 now ... please ensure that you have your vehicle details to hand." Aaaaaaargh. The ivory towers of Brentwood must be a pleasant place indeed.

(This item was brought to you by the Bunhill self-fulfilling prophecy department. If you have a touch-tone newspaper, and wish more information, please press the star button at the top of the page, otherwise keep reading and the next paragraph will appear shortly. Now here's 10 minutes of the Blue Danube...)

Is it just me indulging in a bout of pre-seasonal cynicism, or is there more than a whiff of irony in the fact that last week's Ambassador for London awards were sponsored by National Car Parks? The nominees were Patrick Deuchar, chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall; Sir Michael Pickard, chairman of the London Docklands Development Corporation; and the late Sam Wanamaker, founder of the Globe Theatre Playhouse trust. The award went posthumously to Sam Wanamaker - who was tireless in his drive to see Shakespeare's theatre brought back to life - and it was a mark of respect that no one would question. But maybe the Globe trustees should be a little wary - after all, they, like the other nominees, have a sizeable chunk of precious London space under their stewardship. Perhaps next year's ceremony will receive support from the consortium putting together a bid for a new London airport.

Helipad in the skies

Talking of things aeronautical... A few weeks ago my colleague Matthew Rowan introduced you to the delights of the London Book of Lists. This excellent tome, from publishers Westoning House is, in their own words, "a dynamic mix of hard business-to-business information on the top performers across a raft of professions, coupled with off-beat facts about the faces and places that make London the world's most exciting and vibrant capital city". Hmm. It certainly does contain some interesting facts. Like "revealing" the existence of a private helipad on top of the Mirror Group's headquarters. A word of warning to all chopper jockeys who may wish to drop in on the above-mentioned media organisation. You see, we at Bunhill Towers are generous enough to share part of our edifice with those publishers of fine popular newspapers. And we live, contrary to rumours of a pastoral idyll, in a big shiny building in London's East End. And it has a pointy roof. With no helipad. Happy landings.

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