Column Eight: Highland Lamont lament

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The Independent Online
Norman Lamont should take note of the adage that recommends one not to bite the hand that feeds. In this case the hand belongs to Highland Distilleries, and the offering is whisky.

Yesterday Highland Distilleries could not help but admonish the Chancellor for imposing such ruinous taxes on whisky, with duty rising well above the cost of inflation.

Particularly, the company points out, since Highland Park (one of its more sumptuous whiskies) was the very tipple used by Mr Lamont to lubricate his larynx during the Budget speech.

Not only that, rumour has it that the finance ministers who gathered in Bath last month went home with more than a wee dram of Highland Park in their hand luggage . . .

Spotted in a second-hand bookshop in the City are copies of Peter Martin's book How to Survive and Prosper in the Recession, reduced from pounds 6.99 to pounds 1.50. Whether this means the recession is ending and people no longer need the book (probably not), or whether it means no one can afford even pounds 6.99, we know not.

But it's unlikely that any waverer would be persuaded by the handwritten note affixed to the cover: 'Become a millionaire in two days.'

This column's favourite record chain, Farringdon Records, is opening the largest classical store in the City. The chosen site is Leadenhall Market, hard by the Lloyd's insurance market.

Farringdon has always been an arbiter of taste: in the Cheapside branch the old- fashioned record held out bravely against compact discs until, like mercury in a thermometer, the lines of CDs on the shelves gradually lengthened as vinyl headed for obsolescence.

Its proximity to Lloyd's may suggest that nothing too highbrow should be stocked. Nigel Kennedy and The Four Seasons, and Nessun Dorma would sell well. Of course, an emblematic work for its neighbour might be Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony. Or even the All at Sea Symphony.

On Saturday, Column Eight brought you the origin of 'balls-up' (as used last week to describe the Government's handling of the economy). Two black balls hoisted above a ship, we said, meant it had gone aground.

Philip Sporle, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, writes to say this should have been three black balls. But he adds: 'Two black balls in a vertical line means that the ship is Not Under Command. Probably just as apposite under today's circumstances.'

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