Here's looking at you, caller. Or not, as the case may be

BUNHILL

Here is a prediction: the greatest force for social and commercial upheaval this year will be a harmless-sounding device known as Caller ID.

The more modern of you will be familiar with Caller ID - it allows you to see who is calling you before you pick up the handset. The social effects of this will be obvious: unpopular people will discover they are unpopular, mothers-in-law (except mine, bless her!) will find they are unable to make contact, and those of us who are popular will have to get used to being answered by name. I find it quite unnerving when one of my chums greets me with a cheery "Hello Bunhill!"

But the commercial impact could, I suggest, knock a couple of percentage points off the GNP, though few people will mind much. The following categories will find themselves unable to do their jobs:

Double-glazing salesmen, salesmen of all other kinds, public relations consultants, debt collectors, journalists (of the "tabloid" variety), pollsters and lots of others I haven't thought of yet. In fact it might put BT out of business. As my Cityish colleagues would say: Sell!

The Chairman's message to the partners of John Lewis starts: "It has been a most orderly year ..."

There is no one, nothing, quite like John Lewis. As the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride round the M25, as the stars of the sky fall to earth, as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit, John Lewis Partners will still be selling sensible things to sensible people, and the chairman will be writing his next report: "A certain disorder affected soft furnishings, and while Aberdeen and Milton Keynes disappeared into the abyss, we were pleased to note that Brent Cross was performing well ..."

Virgin deflated

Richard Branson's airline magazine is called Hot Air, with the sub- heading "Virgin Atlantic's high-flying magazine". Something will have to change. Either the title goes - I suggest Helium Falling - or the strapline should change: "Down to earth with a bump" maybe.

I have had suggestions for a subdivision of the Euro (Eurine, you may remember, was proposed before Christmas). Before coming to them, Magy Higgs makes a good point: that a good reason for disposing of the penny is that it is either referred to as a "pee", or that "pence" is used as the singular. As I've said before, decimalisation was a horrible mistake.

Back to the Euro Division. William J Mason brings mighty logic to bear with his suggestion of Pean (pronounced pee-an). The trouble is, Pean is also the US spelling of paean, a song of praise, which is implausible. Its other meaning in the dictionary, "fur represented as sable spotted with or" is incomprehensible, so should at least be well received in Brussels.

Keith Flett suggests that a Blair generic would be the New, while the democratic version would be the Pleb: the New Pleb might be a compromise. Adrian Brokin, a self-confessed realist, says the Euro should be made up of one deutschmark, so the subdivision presumably remains the pfennig.

Christophe Sladen has switched nationalities to write this letter, which I reproduce:

"Nous avons abandonne l'Ecu - historique nom francais - pour l'Euro: mot artificiel, sans histoire, sans famille, sans gravitas (comme dit le bon chancelier Clarke). En place de l'Eurine (aussi mot artificiel) permettez-moi proposer un mot tout court, tout simple.

Vous pouvez rappeler, j'en suis sur, le Sou: piece de monnaie petite mais bien utile.

Pour eviter aucun risque de confusion, je propose que chaque Euro soit divise entre cent pieces qui s'appellent, pas Sou, mais Fou. Ainsi, par exemple: J'ai fou (I 'ave fou), Tu as fou (You 'ave fou), Il/Elle a fou ('E, She or Eet 'ave fou) etc.

The word would, Mr Sladen suggests, be a useful exclamation in European negotiations. Just shout "Fou!", and no one could object. Those of a severely monolingual disposition should look up the word "fou" in a dictionary.

Competition time

I am pleased to announce the first Bunhill competition of 1997. Just think of collective nouns for professions. Here are some for starters: a boredom of accountants, an ignorance of non-executive directors, a stupor of actuaries, a waterproof of Internet experts, a wad of merchant bankers. Bottles of fizz for the best (I apologise, by the way, to those of you who were expecting fizz and haven't got it yet - our delivery wagon collided with Santa Claus's sleigh in a Horror Pile-Up on Cloud Nine Bypass just before Christmas).

Frantic phone calls jammed the switchboards of Bunhill Towers last week, demanding to know where I had got to. I am unable, for Security Reasons, to give an explanation, but I can say that it involved my old friend Captain Moonlight and a toad-sexing expedition in Anguilla. Thank you for your concern.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?