View from City Road: We wish you a happy humbug

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The Independent Online
FOR once Michael Heseltine, the President of the Board of Trade, is right. Christmas cards are an expensive waste of work time.

While we are the grateful recipients of lots of beautiful Christmas cards, we cannot help feeling that chief executives of large public companies should have something better to do than sign hundreds of cards. Their secretaries also have something better to do than decide which ones their boss should sign in full and which with only his first name. And shareholders undoubtedly have better things to do with their money than see it spent on needless stamps.

Charities earn about 10p a card. Companies would gain brownie points if they gave pounds 1 for each card they would otherwise have sent out. That would raise hundreds of pounds for needy causes.

Goodwill created with recipients is marginal at best. Senior people will receive so many cards that they will have little time to study them. And they must wonder who half of them are from. These are the ones signed 'John' and which give no other clues as to the identity of the sender.

A few companies choose their cards carefully to project their image. But most fall back on the traditional pictures - St Pauls and the Thames in the City, wintry countryside scenes and religious paintings, most popularly this year Raphael's Sistine Madonna. Architectural patterns have, fortunately, taken over from snowy robins, though even these have not died out entirely.

With the single market imminent, one firm of accountants, Blackstone Franks, has proposed an interim Christmas card regional unemployment directive (CCRUD) to tackle the Xmas card mountain. Scrooge's sentiments entirely]