Column Eight: Still minding the shop

Napoleon's insult has stood the test of time. Britain is still a nation of shopkeepers, says an EC survey aimed at establishing whether the 'Euro-consumer' has arrived.

But, with the startling insight for which these exercises are noted, the report adds that their stores are bigger than they were a couple of hundred years ago.

The regional variations discovered suggest that we Europeans have yet to develop common tastes. But what are we to make of the fact that Britons have far more microwaves than their Continental cousins but far fewer refrigerators?

Meanwhile, Cognac sales in Britain slumped by 11 per cent last year, to 11.6 million bottles, according to the Cognac Information Centre. A better indicator of recession than car sales - or just revenge for burnt lambs?

More AA (apostrophe abuse) rears its ugly head in a magazine ad for Hewlett Packard portable printers. The text bores on about how users can correct mistakes at the last minute. A pity the copywriters didn't have one, as they gush on about the 'quality of it's (sic) black and white output'.

OK, so Barclays' results were bad. But has it really come to this? Since, 'in practical terms, few banks could be rated as 'prime' in today's market', the British Banks' Association is recommending a revised definition of the Libor rate that drops the reference to 'prime banks'.

Not content with attacking youngsters' stomachs, Grand Met subsidiary Burger King has taken the battle to their minds. It has announced plans to become the world's largest single-circulation publisher of children's magazines with the release of three new titles. Anyone for a Big Mac?