Can Durex stand up down under?

DUREX is going worldwide. At the moment, if an Italian wants a condom made by London International Group, he will ask his barber for a Hatu. A German will demand a London (though I did once notice another German brand called Baby Stop), and an American will request a Sheik or a Ramses.

Now LIG is trying to push the brand we Brits know and, possibly, love. Henceforth, it will be a Durex Sheik, a Durex Hatu and so on. And eventually, mark my words, the Italians will lose their Hatus entirely.

But what of the poor old Australians - or at least those who live in the south? To them durex (small 'd') is what we call Sellotape (big 's'). An LIG spokeslady tells me it actually owns the Durex brand in Australia, and is determined to spread it right across the country. I predict confusion, or worse.

SIR Richard Rogers, the architect, has commissioned a virtual reality film to convince doubters that his design for Terminal Five at Heathrow will be wizard. My mole has seen it and tells me viewers are whisked along the M4, on which they see two whole cars, before turning off into Heathrow. There, peace reigns - no aircraft noise at all. Heavy on the virtual, hold the reality.

Cheats do prosper

I HAVE never been much of a one for competitions - I am one of three people who never enter the National Lottery. But when a fax landed on my desk giving all the answers to a competition, I decided it might be worth a go.

The idea of the competition is to buy a bottle of Smirnoff vodka, ring a number, take a stab at three questions (most of which involve studying the outside of the bottle), and see if you have won tickets to see Mr Bond in his latest film, Goldeneye.

But if like me you have received a helpful fax, you ring the number, read out the answers and get your tickets, without even having to buy any vodka. This is what we in the trade call cheating, but the man from IDV/ Smirnoff was philosophical. "It happens," he says. "All we can do is change the questions."

My fax had 10 questions and answers on it and I found it distressingly easy to win my tickets (which I am of course giving away). Call me old- fashioned (please!), but I can't understand people who like cheating at competitions. They may get the film tickets, but where's the fun?

IT'S Advent, and Bunhill is inclined to dole out champagne. All you have to do is come up with a carol revamped with a business bent . . . Once in Harvey-Jones's City, that sort of thing.

This one comes from Bunhill Pa. It has nothing to do with business, but then again he's not going to win the fizz either:

Fulminate fulminate,

Orb vivific.

How I ponder your nature


Loftily poised

In the ether capacious,

Strongly resembling

A gem carbonacious.

Voice of the week

THE editor of The Week, a new news digest, is Jeremy O'Grady. He was on Radio Four's Midweek programme 10 days ago, since when his office's phones have been jammed by people demanding subscriptions. Was this because of his slicing analysis of world events? Nope, it was because ladies of a certain age thought his voice was yummy. Now that's the way to sell papers.

A LETTER lands on my doormat from Thames Water. Pay a pounds 40 sprinkler bill, it says, and we will give you a pounds 10 Sainsbury voucher and a specially designed gardeners' calendar. I ring Thames Water for an explanation. It seems we are supposed to pay the pounds 40 if we have a sprinkler, but we don't because we're dishonest. Hence this wheeze - you give us pounds 40 and we give you a tenner and a calendar.

This leads to two thoughts. First, whoever invents a sprink- ler detection van (with blotting paper sticking out of the roof?) will make a fortune. Second, I announce another Bunhill competition: you send me pounds 40 and I will send you pounds 10 and two calendars signed by my cat. Top that if you dare, Thames.

Mission implausible

WE RECENTLY published a buzz phrase generator. Pick a word from each of three columns of business-speak, and you had your own snappy phrase for use at pretentious occasions. Since then I have been keeping an eye open for real life phrases, and I am delighted to offer three for starters. They are Business Excellence Team, Vendor Integrated Programme and my favourite - Mission Critical Faxing. They are all for real, honest.