Market research? Just count the customers

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I Have been told off for accusing Bass of having done market research before launching its chain of All Bar One cafe bars. The company didn't do any, apparently, which immediately makes me think better of it.

In recompense for this horrible libel, I shall now tell you about the latest All Bar One, which opens the week after next on Upper Regent Street in London. To be specific, it is on the same spot as Charles Forte's Meadow Milk Bar, which he set up in 1935 and which was the basis of the Forte Empire (or the Granada Empire, as we now have to call it).

Bass has spent pounds 500,000 doing the place up (Forte spent pounds 4,000), but at least it does not need any market research - Forte did all that 60 years ago. "Mornings, afternoons and evenings," he wrote in his autobiography, "I would stand on the pavement outside the empty shop with a recording counter. I checked the number of people walking by. I counted the numbers in the queues at the nearby bus stop; I counted the students and teachers coming in and out of the nearby polytechnic; and became increasingly convinced that this was the site for me." Which goes to show that market research isn't necessarily harmful - but it should certainly be treated with great caution.

A Colleague recently came upon the word "workflow", along with several helpful definitions. Here are two of them:

"Workflow is a tool-set for the proactive analysis, compression and automation of information-based tasks and activities."

"Workflow Management is a proactive system for managing a series of tasks defined in one or more procedures."

So now you know.

Verbal abuse

Young women, you may have noticed, have been wandering the streets wearing badges saying "Tesco to go". Is this a news scoop I have missed? A subtle bit of disinformation by Sainsbury's? Or perhaps part of a campaign by a new anti-supermarket party? (I'd vote for it.)

Sadly, none of the above - just an example of the mangling of our language. "Tesco to go" is American for "Tesco take-away": you get your pizza there at lunchtime and take it away. Yes, take it away, not go to it. Twits.

Rover is apparently considering reintroducing the phrase "shooting brake" for its estate cars. This set me pondering how closely tied the internal combustion engine still is to the horse. A brake was a large, horse-drawn wagonette; a coupe was an open-top carriage; cab comes from cabriolet, a two-wheeled light carriage.

We should encourage this trend. Sporty two-seaters should be Phaetons; elegant luxurious cars (BMWs) should be Victorias; heavy, costly cars (Rolls-Royces) should be Landaus.

What conclusion can we draw from the fact that the British call a closed car a saloon, derived from a large luxurious railway carriage, while the Americans call it a sedan, after a poky little chair? Seems the wrong way round, doesn't it?

Talking of luxurious motor cars, I would just like to say Isotta-Fraschini and Hispano-Suiza. No reason, I just like the sound of them.

Coffee spoken here

A Strange new language is being spoken in the very shadow of Bunhill Towers. Go into a branch of the Seattle Coffee Company and you will hear people asking for a "skinny latte," a "dry cappuccino" or even a "harmless". You will scan the price list for these in vain. They belong to the argot of the United States' West Coast coffee scene (did you know there was such a thing?) and they are understood only by TITK - Those In The Know. This must be comforting for TITK but newcomers might feel they have wandered into an unfamiliar church service.

As a public service I will provide a glossary. A skinny latte is a milky coffee made with skimmed milk; a dry cappuccino has lots of foam in it (note also wet ditto); a harmless is a decaffeinated coffee made with skimmed milk. Thank you.

How about this for a title: Member of the Executive Board of the Business Services Line of Business of Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG. I wonder if Dr Friedrich Frosch has time to do any work after he has introduced himself?