Column Eight: Looking under the covers

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The Independent Online
The results season may have demonstrated that British industry is in severe need of an economy, but it also proves there is no lack of ingenuity. Certain companies' results announcements display a truly amazing talent for highlighting anything from reduced borrowings to the cut in tax bills, instead of the profits slump.

Latest coverer-upper is Higgs & Hill, whose announcement pointed to a modest drop in profit on trading activities from pounds 1.65m to only pounds 1.55m. It wasn't until readers got to the detailed accounts on the last page that they saw that pre-tax profits had slumped by 37 per cent to pounds 673,000.

On the other hand, some companies are unashamedly straight-talking. John Westhead, chief executive of the recession-resilient Bowthorpe, explained yesterday how management had begun controlling costs early. 'Because we're a miserable lot of buggers.'

The other way to beat the recession is to have been a collector of rare bank notes. A five-bob note that went under the hammer at Spink auctioneers yesterday was expected to go for more than pounds 5,000: the First World War note signed by Sir John Bradbury was the only known example. In the end, an anonymous bidder coughed up pounds 12,980.

Last mention of money- makers in the recession - and it's a new DIY magazine called Here's How. Demystifying for women the world of Rawlplugs is one of its principal aims. Of course, it will really clean up on those squillions of homeowners who have given up all hope of selling their houses and opted for the old loft conversion instead.

One hopes that the Government defers the decision on whether to plump for Trafalgar Day (21 October) as the new May Day holiday until after the tender offer for Trafalgar House closes today. It's all very well for Little Englanders to celebrate victory over the French and Spanish - but not if this also means lauding a conquest by Hong Kong.

It's good to know that the Japanese palate is barely more cultured than the British. Such has been the rush during McDonald's week-long hamburger 'promotion' (Y100 from Y210), that buns have run out and the offer is suspended in many stores. Still, carbohydrate addicts need not fear. The price of medium fries has been halved.

The Industrial Society is sending out a sexual harassment survey on behalf of the University of St Thomas, an American outfit. Next time you're sized up in the lift you can apparently shout: 'Stop making elevator eyes at me]' Well, perhaps.

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