Column Eight: Nautor's readies or not

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The Independent Online
Ever wondered what those watchful salesmen at the Boat Show really think as you wander dreamily over a yacht they know you could never afford to own?

As the finishing touches were being put to the Nautor's Swan stand on Tuesday - home of the 'Rolls-Royce' of sailing boats - a large red notice at the foot of the inspection steps read 'Piss off and come back with loads of readies]' This was then replaced before the show opened with another sign: 'Viewing by appointment.' Now we know what that really means.

News that Coats Viyella was talking to Youghal Carpets with a view to making an offer for the whole share capital caused uncertainty in the City. This related to how to pronounce Youghal rather than any bid excitement - Coats already owns 72 per cent of the Irish company.

'Yoogal' and 'Yule' were variously intoned, until a passing Irishman imperiously revealed that a twanged 'Yawl' is what they actually call it at the company's home in County Cork.

Tut tut. The answer to a clue (4 down) in yesterday's Guardian crossword - 'Normal man? Not however fitted for public office (6,6)' - was Norman Lamont. Keener puzzlers among you will, however, realise that arriving at the answer involved an anagram of 'normal', 'man' and 'not'. And if those words are stripped from the clue, you're actually left with 'fitted for public office' after all.

Cryptic.

It's a tad ironic that the Dakota aircraft on anti-pollution duties in the Shetland Islands, ready and waiting to spray dispersants on the oil slick, are probably around 50 years old. The planes' engines are fiendishly thirsty for fuel - and about as green as a ladybird.

Anew year clear-out of the Independent's business files unearthed an interesting relic. Viz, a report dated May 1991 by John Wriglesworth, the building societies guru at UBS Phillips & Drew. The title illustrates oh-so-poignantly how hopeful we all were about those green shoots of recovery. 'Housing market: Ready for Lift-off?' Twenty months on, at least everyone else got it wrong too.

Just when you thought you'd heard the last of Christmas cards - we receive a late offering from the Islamically- rigorous Saudi Ministry of Petroleum. No baby, shepherds, stars, stables, animals - in fact no mention of Christmas itself. Just: 'Season's Greetings' and a blank, pearly- white card bordered with gold.

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