There'll be no high fives in Europe

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The Independent Online
Euro-silliness has reached a new peak. Well, almost: within half a metre of the peak, in fact. After a lengthy Gallic mumble and even more Prussian grumbling, the Brussels bureaucrats huddled into a committee. Any British schoolboy knows they should have just rounded the last half metre upwards. But not our future rulers. The problem is that Germany's Bundesbank apparently rounds down numbers that end in five.

Wrong, I hear you cry. And after consulting his abacus Bunhill can only concur. But my spies report that the European Monetary Institute has set up a consultative committee on the issue. One can't help thinking it would all be unnecessary if those continentals had sensibly adopted the Imperial system, where half a foot is a nice, comfy six inches and half a shilling is a shiny - and round - sixpence.

A DISTURBING little trend I have noticed in modern literature has suddenly got worse. I refer of course to real books being written by fictional authors.

It started when Kurt Vonnegut invented a character called Kilgour Trout who wrote science fiction stories. Much surprise followed when a book titled Venus on a Halfshell by Kilgour Trout appeared on booksellers' shelves. It wasn't even by Vonnegut, but by Philip K Dick, who is best known for writing the story on which the film Bladerunner was based.

Then came Fly Fishing by JR Hartley, which started out as an advertisement for Yellow Pages. Demand for the imaginary book was so great that the company commissioned a ghost writer to actually put quill to paper.

Now they have gone further, releasing a CD-Rom game with the same title. Not content with providing fictitious authors, they give us fictitious fish. This conceit has gone far enough. Thank goodness there are no doubts about Bunhill's true identity.

Dead lively

MY NORTHERN cousin t'Bunhill has been busy again this week and, his latest correspondence involves Scarborough. The fair town, you will recall, was devastated when the Bulgarian football team decamped during Euro '96 to the more exciting environs of Darlington.

More misfortune has arrived. Or rather, will not arrive. Saga Holidays has removed the resort from its latest catalogue. Apparently even holiday makers in t'Bunhill's tender age bracket prefer somewhere more exotic.

Perhaps Scarborough should follow the lead of York, which has declared itself the Dead City. This is not a reference to the local nightlife. Rather it is in recognition of the large number of people buried there. Tours are being organised to view the public cemetery, a cholera burial ground and even to appreciate gravestone poetry. RIP.

BUNHILL has spent time in the colonies, so has sympathy for Ted Campbell, the Canadian boss of cable company Comcast. According to t'Bunhill, Mr Campbell invited Tony Blair to open the company's new headquarters in Stockton-on-Tees. Wanting to give his guest something more memorable than the usual paperweight, Mr Campbell commissioned a local craftsman to make a wooden bowl. Embarrassingly, the 150 dignitaries in attendance, including Mr Blair, could not quite follow Mr Campbell's accent and thought he said: "We understand you have a fine collection of balls."

No stitch-up

REMEMBER the competition I ran for things which should exist but don't? A late non-entryarrived last week from John Pease, a former oil man who spent most of his career hopping from helicopters into jumbo jets.

Fed up with having to wear wrinkly shirts on his arrival, Mr Pease went to Cumbria and set up the Stuffed Shirt Company. Its main product is a carrying bag that keeps shirts and blouses neatly pressed.

By itself this is a worthy accomplishment. But what really fired up Bunhill were the emergency lapel-pin buttons. Next time you discover frayed cotton threads where a button should be, whip out one of these brilliant pins, punch a hole in your cuff and attach the little metal plate that stops you getting scratched. Far, far easier than fumbling with needle and thread.

SPEAKING of traditions, I am happy to report that British Rail's famous knack for tact and diplomacy lives on in at least one of its new owners, Stagecoach.

On a recent journey a young woman was witnessed racing down the platform after the moving train. She succeeded in catching it and hauled herself into a car, only to be greeted with a tannoy announcement by the conductor: "If that stupid girl wants to commit suicide she can, it's a free country, but not under my train." She was clearly deeply embarrassed. That should teach her never to ride Stagecoach if she can possibly avoid it.