Hold the invasion, I'm still waiting for my bill

BUNHILL

Harrods, the top people's store, seems to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to stop other people using its name. One enterprising fellow registered "harrods.com" as a name to use on the Internet and was promptly sued. Others daring to call themselves Harrods are similarly denied the right - I bet the 21 people called Harrod in the London phone directory feel rather nervous whenever they get together.

Now Harrods is trying to block Harrods (Buenos Aires) from flogging its name for use worldwide . "The name Harrods would no longer mean, and mean only, that very special store in Knightsbridge, London," says Charles Sparrow, QC. Which is odd, because there has been a Harrods in Argentina since the beginning of the century.

I went there in 1981 and if it hasn't changed since then it deserves a preservation order at least as much as the posh London corner shop. It was, to put it mildly, quaint. I had to queue to buy a trinket at one counter: que-ue at another to have it wrapped; and queue at a third to pay for it. All of this made me think: if General Galtieri had popped in to do his Christmas shopping at Harrods that year, he would never have got out in time to invade the Falklands in April...

WHEN I buy books, I look at the back cover to see the reviews. Buying Greenfinger - The rise of Michael Green and Carlton Communications I did just that and was interested to note that it was apparently "A breathtaking account of villainy, collapsing standards and hypocrisy". I wondered if Mr Green and his lawyers might be interested in this, too, until I noticed what it said above in small print: "Praise for Raymond Snoddy's previous book."

Other industries could surely use the same device. Boeing, for example, could claim that its teeniest jet can carry 500 people (well, a Jumbo can). Honda could reasonably use a review of its Formula One racing car for the new Civic - "Very stable at 270 mph". And the housebuilder Barratt could sell its starter flats with talk of gold-plated Jacuzzis. The possibilities are endless. I am amazed that our famously clever advertising people have not exploited it.

Hole truth

THE picture on the right is of Swiss soldiers on bicycles. I have included this because a cable company has been digging up the pavement outside my house.

Why, I wondered, do the gas, water, phone, electricity and cable men all make different holes when they want to change something? Why not have hinged kerbstones, which would give easy access to all the services and leave a nice flat pavement?

I would recommend we take advice on how to do this from the Swiss, because they can even hollow out mountains. In La Place de la Concorde Suisse, a wonderful book about the Swiss army, the American journalist John McPhee describes how Switzerland is one giant military installation.

"If one just happens to be looking, one might see something like an enormous mousehole appear chimerically at the base of an Alp. Out of the mountain comes a supersonic aircraft - a Tiger, a Mirage - bearing on its wings the national white cross. In a matter of seconds it is climbing in the air."

Swiss roadsides are equally educational. Mc Phee describes how granite blocks on the Simplon road turn out to be made of plastic, concealing army spy holes from which the valley can be observed.

"Many mountains have been made so porous that whole divisions can fit inside them," he writes. Which should make hollowing out pavements a doddle.

So where do the soldiers on bicycles come in? Well, they make it into the same book. The description of efficient German-speakers in the valleys trying to communicate by radio with the drunk Romansch-speaking bicycle troops at the top of the mountains is a hoot.

I hope this is a satisfactory link with cables in south London. Obvious really.

AND last, but not least, some suggestions for executive stocking fillers.

From Alan Jones of Mountsorrel, Leicestershire: a framed photograph of the chief executive's bottom. From Magy Higgs, a multi-bladed knife with an implement for getting blood out of stones; a glossary of non-existent words such as "accessing"; and European Union- approved essence of pheromones to charm the men at the conference into agreeing with you. From my colleague Dickie: a Christmas card from Robert Maxwell. More please.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project