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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference