City People

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ZUT ALORS. BT is risking flak from eurosceptics by launching the UK's first ever payphones designed to accept French coins as well as sterling.

And this outrage is being perpetrated at Portsmouth - home to the Royal Navy, which saw off Napoleon and other continental predators.

Provocatively, BT says it is testing the 17 payphones at Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port "in preparation for the introduction of the euro".

Malcolm Newing, director of BT Payphones, is at pains to point out, however, that enabling payphones to take different coins "is just good forward corporate planning". "Even if we don't join the euro there will be an awful lot of people visiting this country who will want to use euros," Mr Newing adds.

The need to make BT's 141,000 payphones as easy to use as possible has never been more pressing, he says, as they are facing rampant competition from mobile phones. "Everyone thinks we're getting slaughtered by mobiles - it's not true," insists the director.

So get out your francs. You can even use them in combination with pence and pounds on a single call using the Portsmouth trial phones.

THE CHAPS at Tokyo Mitsubishi's City offices overlooking Broadgate Circus had to get the mops out on Monday afternoon.

Water was discovered gushing on to the floor of the computer room. Suspicion fell on a possible leak from the adjacent women's loos. There was some minor panic as foreign exchange trading had to be temporarily transferred to the bank's New York office. Thankfully, I can report the mess was all cleared up when the traders came in yesterday morning. Needless to say there were plenty of jokes about liquidity, soggy markets etc.

BUSINESS IS looking up for opticians as eclipse fever grips the country. Despite media campaigns to warn people about the dangers of viewing the 11 August phenomenon without proper protection, optometrists predict that many people will not follow medical advice and will end up facing costly consultations at their local optician.

According to Keith Holland, who along with his wife, Clare, runs Cheltenham opticians Keith Holland and Associates: "Inevitably, there will be lots of people who have not followed advice on how to view the eclipse safely."

Mr Holland says he will be making all his staff available to meet the predicted rise in demand. This will include five optometrists, two dispensing opticians and two vision therapists, as well as the 47 general practitioners at St Paul's medical centre, where Keith Holland and Associates has a base.

Others are not so well-prepared. A spokesperson for Boots Opticians said her company would not be fielding extra staff as they were concentrating on providing preventative measures for customers.

Personally, I'll be on holiday and intend to sleep through the entire thing.

STUDENTS OF web-slang will relish "Suck Site" - a site used by ex- employees to slag off a former employer (eg www.ibmsucks.com); and "Cyberskiving" - a self-explanatory description of what many net-surfing office staff do instead of work. (Reminds me, must book my hols on www.deckchair.com...)

HERE'S LOOKING at you, kid. Oxford Instruments, a company which makes the kind of monitoring equipment that goes "beep" in hospitals, has hired a chap who has all 52 Humphrey Bogart movies at home.

"The films are in various media," a spokesperson tells me, referring to Alan Cousens' collection. Mr Cousens has been lured away from Smiths Industries to be Oxford's managing director of Medical Systems. The company is beefing up its medical division following the acquisition of the neurology group of Vickers Medical.

Oxford already makes the magnets which go into those big tube-like brain scanners so beloved of TV documentaries, as well as heart and foetal monitors.

Whether Mr Cousens will be wearing his trademark trilby and white raincoat to work is another matter.

Comments