Horatio meets his metallic match

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The Independent Online
Twenty-six years ago, before I had my first wig, I made a Meccano robot called Horatio. Horatio was about three feet tall and, driven by a powerful electric motor, would make his way a few feet across the room before falling on his nose (actually a one-inch pulley).

I speak in the past, but Horatio is still very much extant. He now sports a natty Homburg and stands guard in my bedroom. When my son is Meccano- age, my robot will probably be disassembled and turned into a nuclear missile silo, or something.

Meanwhile, I am going to let Horatio watch GMTV from the 27th to 31st of this month. He will thus be able to cast a critical eye over Arno, a rather over-developed American cousin whose photograph we feature here. Arno, who is seven feet tall and weighs 28 stone, is made of 2,731 Meccano pieces and 3,173 nuts and bolts. He is also what I believe the Americans call a "jock", having run the last mile of the New York marathon.

He arrives here next week and will spend his time on GMTV "working out" with Mr Motivator, presenting the weather forecast and doing other useful things. Arno's motives are excellent - he will be helping to raise money for the "Get Up & Give Appeal" - but somehow I'm not sure Horatio will appreciate him. A bit brash and American - and what's wrong with the local boy, eh? Call my robot Michael Fishplate and he'd do a lovely weather forecast.

Do you know what is added to hens' feed to brighten the yolk of a Waitrose egg? Thought not. It's marigold petals.

Back to the Eighties

I've always been rather fond of the Yuppie. Not the person, you understand, but the word. The variations on Young Upwardly Mobile Professional People, such as Dinky (Double Income, No Kids) provided gentle amusement at all those champagne dinner parties we used to go to in the Eighties (didn't we?).

Then the Eighties ended and we were banned from using such anachronistic acronyms. So I was very happy to see that they have returned, according to a marketing survey. Yuppies are now, naturally, Muppies: Mature Upwardly Mobile Professional People. And they are suffering from a delightful new syndrome called time poverty. This means, I think, that they are busy. Personally, I am a Sikko (Single Income, Kids, Knackered, Overdraft) who also suffers from time poverty. Please don't feel sorry for me - just send money.

The magazine Colors is not usually much use to Bunhill. It is produced by Benetton and it is ... weird. The last issue had no words at all. The latest, however, is a veritable treasure chest of Bunhilliana. Its theme is wealth, and it tells us ways to make money that are ... weird. q Selling "rights to pollute" in California.

Smuggling immigrants into the US, at $6,000 a head.

Kidnapping in Colombia (ransom around $200,000).

Selling other people's blood in China.

Smuggling eggs. The White-tailed black Cockatoo's egg is worth $30,000.

And ways to spend it ...

Pay $100,000 for a parking space in Hong Kong.

Eat crocodile tail at $25 a slice.

Or champagne sorbet at $1,100 for 10 litres.

Drink Kopi Luwak coffee - each bean has been eaten, then excreted, by a tropical fox in Sumatra. Cost comes to a mere $660 a kilogram.

Take your fish for an acupuncture session in California. Cost: negotiable.

Apologies for the metric measurements by the way - but this is supposed to be a weird item.

Not young at heart

Time for a Bunhill competition. You will read elsewhere in this excellent newspaper that Thermos is trying to sell its flasks to young people with the slogan "Thermos - the flask just got hot". And that Bordeaux Wines are trying to tell youngsters that they should drink claret with pizza. Well, Scotch makers managed to convince adolescent Italians and Spaniards that they should demand Dimple Haig and Johnny Walker in their nightclubs - so I suppose we must not dismiss these efforts.

In fact, I would like you to think up ways or slogans that might sell the following items to the under-25s: a) Zimmer frames b) Grecian 2000 c) bus passes d) anything else in a similar vein. Bottles of fizz for the best.