Bunhill: With Mary and Pat by yon bonnie banks

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The Independent Online
That'll be the phone. Jings, crivens, it's my Scottish cousin "Baplaw" calling from his rococo offices at Scottish Business Insider magazine, with a wee tale from their delightfully scurrilous "Bottom Line" diary.

As those arriving at Kings Cross or Euston stations and trying to pay for a taxi will no doubt be aware, the Scottish banks issue their own notes - and in July the Clydesdale Bank decided it would do something a little bit special. It announced that its new pounds 10 note, to be issued that month, would be the first to feature a Scots woman: Mary Slessor, an Aberdeen-born Victorian missionary who strived to improve the living conditions and education of the people of Calabar, in what is now Nigeria. The good lady had been inspired by David Livingstone, whom she would usurp on the Clydesdale's tenner.

Just hold on a minute, went the cry from the Bank of Scotland. We've already had a Scots woman on a note - and it was a pounds 20 note to boot. Two years earlier, said the BoS, Ms Pat Mullen, a researcher at the Scottish College of Textiles and living in the Borders town of Peebles, had appeared on their pounds 20 note above the heading "Education and Research". Ms Mullen was presented with a commemorative plaque by the BoS and has since featured in an exhibition on women and banknotes.

On 5 July the Herald newspaper gleefully pointed out to the Clydesdale where it had gone astray, prompting the sullen response from a spokesman: "Well, she is the first woman to appear on the front of a note."

Exit the Clydesdale, tail between legs. But not for long. Mary Slessor will assume her rightful place in banking history. You see, Pat Mullen is English, born in Preston, Lancashire. And she banks with the Clydesdale.

The Scottish banks not only issue their own pounds 5, pounds 10, pounds 20 and pounds 50 notes et al - the greenback is alive and rustling north of the border in the shape of the pounds 1 note. Of course, Bank of England currency is also in circulation, but when the pounds 1 coin first migrated north it proved distinctly unpopular, quickly acquiring the nickname of the "Thatcher". Why? Because it was brassy with pretensions to be a sovereign.

Qwerty fighting

Where are they now? The first in a series of, er, one - unless other candidates present themselves. Suggestions to the Bunhill mailbox please. This week, Myron W Krueger.

It's a terrible life we live at the end of the second millennium - chained to computer terminals, eating at our desks, working all the hours God sends as the paperwork piles up relentlessly. If only there was a way to channel our frustrations with this sedentary existence while keeping up the workrate on the great corporate hamster wheel. Enter Dr Krueger.

Myron Krueger is a technological visionary, coiner of the term "artificial reality" and inventor of the concept of Videoplace - "an artificial reality that can be experienced without wearing special goggles or clothing". In 1990, Life magazine described him as a "wavemaker of the decade ahead". Yet here at Bunhill Towers we are surprised to note, as the decade moves into its dotage, that there has been no commercial waves made by what is surely his greatest vision of future office life: the Kung Fu Typewriter.

Dr Krueger proposed a keyboard the size of a small wall, each key a mini- punchbag, where employees could keep up the keystrokes while getting some Prince Naseem-style exercise. So why has no forward-thinking entrepreneur acted upon his foresight and begun producing computer keyboards in a joint marketing deal with boxing promoter Don King? No doubt they all realised that sales would fall off when a certain type of manager realised that the next time he asked his secretary to go out and find a little something for the wife's birthday he might be met not with grudging compliance, but with a flying drop-kick to the chest.

Tony BLAIR, we are led to believe, sees the "Tiger Economies" of the Far East as models that Britain would do well to emulate. No doubt, then, that he will have alerted the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to Malaysia's latest crime-busting initiative. Convicted litterers in Malaysia will be required to sweep the streets wearing T-shirts bearing the message "I am a litterbug". It's bound to catch on here. Ernest Saunders could have a commemorative shirt bearing the logo "I can't really remember what I did but as soon as I got out I felt much better". As a temporary resident of a Tiger Economy nation, Nick Leeson is probably already resplendent in a shirt that says "I might be locked up in a cell with 25 others but I'm going to make a fortune from the movie rights when I get out". But the shirt de la shirt will be on display in gyms across the Square Mile, where City boys will be wearing, as icons of their prowess, designer cotton numbers adorned with the words: "I drank two bottles of Krug, did six lines of coke, wrapped the Porsche round a lampost, posted pounds 50,000 bail with the platinum AmEx and got probation after I turned in the guy on the next desk for making a nifty pounds 5m on an insider trading deal."