Knuckle sandwiches?

BUNHILL

BUNHILL'S mole on the iron highway tells me that East Coast Inter- City has teamed up with the chef Marco Pierre White to improve its "on- train catering". This should be interesting. I wonder if the famously hot-tempered Mr White will encourage stewards to scream abuse at the passengers. "How dare you ask for tomato sauce with your microwaved Marco-Pierre Burger? I will not have it! Get out of my train immediately!"

Personally, I believe the Government has missed an obvious trick in its rather bizarre bid to introduce competition on to our railways. Having paid some remarkable prices for some remarkably bad food on trains, it seems obvious that every long-distance train should have two buffets, each run by a different company. If they were next to each other there would be healthy competition, which might even lead to edible sandwiches and reasonable prices. There would of course be a danger of collusion, so the Government would have to set up a regulator on the lines of Ofgas. I suggest it be called Offeggsandwich.

MY ATTEMPT last week to smoke out half-a-dozen Welsh entrepreneurs was not terribly successful. One letter accused me of racial stereotyping; another listed 10 famous Belgians. Thank you.

Fortunately, a reader who wants to protect his identity has produced a couple of contenders. Only one counts, in the sense that he is alive. Oddly, he comes from a town I keep on mentioning, Pembroke Dock. His name is Govan Davies, and he made a heroic attempt to revive the old dockyard town and turn it into a major port. He failed, mainly because of the recession, but I gather Mr Davies is not the sort of man to stay down for long - most important, he's a real entrepreneur.

The other is Sir Josiah Guest. He proves that even if the Welsh are a bit too keen on politics and journalism now, there was a time when they could create wealth with the best of them. He lived from 1785 to 1852 and was the grandson of John Guest, whose company later joined up with Messrs Keen and Nettlefold to form GKN. According to the Dictionary of Eminent Welshmen (pub 1908), he was a steelmaster who "by extraordinary skill and enterprise greatly increased productivity" at the Dowlais Iron Works he had inherited. As my informant points out, English manufacturers would have been stuffed without his like. He was also "notably benevolent". What a nice chap.

Before we leave the Welsh, I have to tell you about an organisation promoting itself on the Internet under the name "The Taffia". The idea is that business people should use their Welsh connections ruthlessly to get on in the world, and the promoters have drawn up a list of countries in which they hope to find suitable Welsh contacts. These include Greenland, Romania and Pakistan. I wish them luck.

They do like Monday

I HAVEN'T seen too many examples of progressive management recently, so I was delighted to learn about the way that Maplin's, an electronic components company near Barnsley, starts the week. The first thing the workers do on a Monday morning is to play bingo.

Honest. They gather in the staff canteen, are handed their (bingo) cards, and the buying director Geoff Clark starts off with the "88: two fat ladies" routine. The winner can get up to pounds 50; afterwards they sit around and talk about how the last week went and generally communicate in a thoroughly modern manner. "It's just a fun way to start the week and helps to get rid of Monday morning blues," Mr Clark says.

But it really is very clever because the prize pot depends on how many orders Maplin's won the previous week. So as well as getting the workers in a reasonable mood before they start packing capacitors and diodes, it gives them a direct link with the fortunes of the company. As one employee says, "it gives us something to look forward to and a feeling of camaraderie."

A CHUM was in Stockholm recently looking at the Finnish teletext news service (don't ask why, but he's very fulfilled really). It was, he tells me, in Latin. This is good. The Finns know full well that their language is so impenetrable that it is pointless broadcasting it outside their home territory. But they refuse to switch to English, which is the obvious cop-out, and stick instead to that much underused business resource, Latin. Hurrah for them, I say.

Backward thinking

DID YOU know, by the way, that the longest single-word palindrome in any language is in Finnish? That Finnish, indeed, is the language of palindromes? Try this: saippuakauppias, which means soap dealer. Impressed? Well, wait for this ... probably the longest palindromic word anywhere is solutomaattimittaamotulos - "the result from a measurement laboratory for tomatoes".

And what would my chum have said to the man from Finnish telly in Stockholm? "Ni talarbra latin," of course, which means "You speak good Latin" in Swedish, and is a palindrome.

What has this to do with business? Good question. BUT, it is a way of introducing a Bunhill competition: the best business-linked palindrome. As starter I offer "A Toyota" (even better in capital letters because it also works in a mirror) and "A Toyota's a Toyota". Bottles of fizz for the best ones. NB: ICI is unlikely to win ...

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
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

Market Administrator (1st line Support, Bloomberg, Broker)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Administrator (1st line Support, Trade Fl...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Server, Reuters)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Se...

Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, Exchange)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, E...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition