Chirac refuses to play the game

BUNHILL

THIS week's prize for understatement goes to the Advertising Standards Authority. Some French expats in London objected to a poster for a Virgin Interactive Entertainment computer game called Command and Conquer. This was not surprising, because it featured a line-up of wicked leaders - Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein and ... Jacques Chirac. The ASA's comment, upholding the complaint, was that it "understood that the French President had not given his permission and considered the poster portrayed him in an adverse way." Quite.

IF YOU were trying to identify the ultimate in genteel organisations, you might plausibly light upon the John Lewis Partnership Ballroom Dancing Club. Or at least you might have done until a few weeks ago. An unobtrusive statistic in the Gazette, the partnership's magazine, notes that the club had 11 members in 1993/4, three in 1994/5 - and has now closed. Oh what tales of passion and jealousy must have slipped away with it - the flyfishing and bridge clubs will never be able to make up the loss.

The Italian job

IF FORTE is swallowed by Granada, it will be a sad moment for Italians in Britain. Charles, Lord Forte - whose father came to Scotland in 1913 - has long been the standard-bearer of the community. There used to be a newspaper called Back Hill that had one advertiser (guess who) and according to John Collis of the British-Italian Society: "He is very much the central figure of the community."

But who will pick up the mantle as leader of the Italians when he bows out? His son Rocco? Possibly. The obvious successor might be Sir Paul Girolami, who was born in the Veneto and presided autocratically over Glaxo as it grew great. But I don't think he has quite the right attitude.

The most interesting Italian-Brit I have met is a lady called Virginia Lopalco. She, with her brother, founded Pasta Reale, thus inventing the factory-made fresh pasta that keeps our tummies so happy and our wallets so light. She learned pasta-making from her grandma in the Veneto, and she is still everything an Italian should be: food-obsessed, charming and permanently dressed in her Sunday best. I propose Signora Lopalco as the next Chief Italian in Britain - I wonder if she'll give me some pasta now?

HURRAH, bribery is back! I have just received a note from Aquascutum announcing its Corporate Gifts Collection. It is written in particularly abstruse business-speak, but the fundamental message is clear. It starts: "In the world of business gifts, the old maxim that 'it is better to give than to receive' is increasingly true in the 1990s. It goes hand in hand with the trends of Total Quality Management, the blurring of Above and Below the Line disciplines in marketing and the focus on Customer Service."

A 1987 book cautioned against expensive gifts, it continues, "because they may be misconstrued". But now: "This has all changed as larger influences have altered perceptions and the business gift is now right back on trend." James Pow, chief executive of Aquascutum, is quoted as saying that the Japanese spend 3.5 per cent of GNP on gifts and adds: "This is being translated into the UK market, in which scepticism has gradually been replaced by a desire to give high-quality gifts with accompanying hierarchical considerations over 'who gets what' also appearing."

In addition, individuals have been "demanding consumer sovereignty ... the response by many companies to this ethos has opened wide the door to luxury goods brands, who can fulfil a task of ensuring that customer care extends beyond the parameters of the business environment."

So, if I follow this gobbledegook, it is now fine to hand out gifts - ranging from a brushed brass and grained-leather key-holder (pounds 14) to a traditional, handmade solid silver director's box (pounds 650 - for keeping share options in, I suppose). I think the clue might be the reference to the Japanese who do, after all, own Aquascutum. They bought us Total Quality Management and Just-in-Time manufacturing - now they are bringing us bribery, sorry, customer care outside the business environment. Splendid chaps, the Japanese.

Anti-trust

AND WHEN we're not bribing people (or being bribed, if we're lucky), we're busy defrauding our employers. The British Bankers Association has launched a video called Live now - pay later!, which says that "50 per cent of all fraud involves employees" and "no level of staff is immune from temptation to commit fraud". I may be naive, but I thought the latest management theory said you should build up an atmosphere of trust with your staff. All right, I admit it, I am naive.

ARE YOU monochronic or polychronic? Do you know what I am talking about? If not, I refer you to a new book called Cross-cultural Communication (Gregory Barnard, Cassell), which explains that monochronic people believe that to master their destinies they must subjugate themselves to time, whereas poly- chronics believe that to subjugate themselves to time is to lose control of their lives. To put it another way, if you are German you are on time and monochronic, if you are a southern Italian you are polychronic and late.

Like most people, I suspect, I want to be polychronic, but I have better things to do than to sit around while everyone else is being polychronic too. Which is why I do not mind that monochronicism (monochronicity?) seems to be becoming something of an obsession.

I have learnt this week about three devices that will appeal immensely to hypermonochronicists (keep those syllables coming). Junghans has launched two solar-powered, radio-controlled wristwatches that it claims are "absolutely accurate, because they are permanently in contact with the world's most accurate clock". Just for good measure, they "run for ever" - nice to know that the perplexing little perpetual motion problem has been licked.

Oregon Scientific, meanwhile, has a new alarm clock, christened the RM913, which is "accurate to within one millionth of a second in a year". It is linked to a caesium-based atomic clock in Middlesex. Oh what joy for the truly monochronic ... "Sorry, Hans, I'm three-millionths of a second late!"

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
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

Application Support - Enterprise Java, SQL, Oracle, SQL Server

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A well-established financial soft...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape