Column Eight: Japan can breathe again

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The Independent Online
LATEST executive toy in Japan is an 'Oral Checker'. Breathe into the pounds 60 navy-blue powder-compact lookalike, and it will sense traces of three organic gases that result in halitosis, and grade your breath into sweet, so-so, pretty rough or rancid.

In Japan, 10,000 worriers have already bought the things but, according to Fortune magazine, the manufacturer has no plans to export them. Before you rush to book return tickets to Tokyo, though, you might bear in mind that the Oral Checker can't detect garlic or onions. Brilliant.

IF YOU'RE still choking down the end of the cold turkey, why not go to Tesco? There you'll find hot cross buns on sale to help wash it down.

WHEN STAFF at Gartmore, the investment management firm, picked up the telephone on Tuesday to find a frothing caller saying: 'Yes, um, hello, er, yes, about this hanging business, I want to put on record to the Sun newspaper that I think it's an absolute disgrace . . .' they assumed it was a wrong number. Forty similar calls later, it was clear that something was up.

Turns out that Sun readers were misdialling en masse, such was their excitement at participating in a telephone poll on capital punishment. Gartmore was unimpressed.

BETTING on Robin Leigh-Pemberton's replacement at the Bank of England closed on 31 December, with pounds 50,000 gambled since Ladbrokes opened a book in May. The even-money favourite is Eddie George, the bank's deputy governor. Runner-up, at 5-2, is Sir David Walker, former head of the Securities and Investments Board, with Sir Christopher Hogg, chairman of Courtaulds and Reuters, taking third place at 5-1.

Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor, trails a long way behind, at 25-1.

THE DEPRESSED market in Hoovers - the result of the firm's offer of free airline tickets on goods worth more than pounds 100 - means newspapers' personal columns are awash with cleaners for a fiver.

With a bit of carpe diem-ing, a Belfast travel agent is offering to put half of the purchase price of any unwanted new Hoover product towards the deposit on a foreign holiday. The catch is that the Hoovers must be unused and still in their wrapping. Is a secondary market springing up?