Why not put your money where your mind is?

BUNHILL

I am told by my colleagues who know about such things that ethical investment funds are very a la mode. You give your beans to a chap who promises not to then lend them to drug launderers, traffic wardens and so on.

I have also heard a rumour that you can now create your own ethical fund - you say what you do and don't like, and the chap invests as you want. This is an excellent idea, and should be called the Existential Fund. Jean-Paul Sartre, you will recall, was a bit of an existentialist: his line was that we should not accept a set of ethics off the shelf but should make up our own, and his aim was clearly to lay out the basis for an investment fund.

So, if you happen to hate smoking but think the Indonesian government is splendid, you could tell your manager from JPS Investments to shun BAT but pile into British Aerospace, which I am told sells aeroplanes to the Indonesians.

Your adherence to such a fund would of course be a "lifestyle statement". You would have to drink pastis, discuss revolution and mutter about hell being other people. I see the trend spreading - you might perhaps be tempted to switch to a Utilitarian Fund or even a Marxist Fund. Political philosophy and personal finance would become inextricably linked - though where it leaves those of us who are broke and without views on anything, is a moot and depressing point.

CHRIS SLADEN of Ealing has come up with a couple of useful new taxes. Paper clips, he says, are "quite the silliest product ever made; they fail to keep together the papers you want, and invariably pick up a loose sheet which you don't want". He says tax advantages should be given to tags held together with string "which in young days, in the army, were called, 'tags, India' - I don't know why".

Mr Sladen would also like a tax on any use of the word "attendee" or "escapee". He is quite right: an escapee is someone who has been escaped. This reminds me of an Indian school exercise that conjugated the verb "to eat" in its entirety. It was fine until it got the passives: the children who had to chant "I will have been eaten" must have felt a little uneasy.

Postcode posers

WHEN I was small, one of the chief devices used to keep me quiet on a car journey was to look at number plates. If I spotted one ending DE, I knew it came from Pembrokeshire, if it was MW, it was Wiltshire. I imagine many of us still have a little list of counties tucked away at the back of our brains.

Sadly, the proliferation of company cars means the suffixes have lost much of their meaning. Cars are often bought from the dealer that offers the best bargain, not the one that is closest, so the fun has all but vanished from plate-spotting.

I can, however, offer consolation to those of us who still have an I- Spy mentality. It concerns postcodes. If you are a big company with your own building, you can choose the last two letters of your code. Thus Rover Group headquarters in Warwick is CV34 6RG, while Royal Mail's ends HQ.

But I discovered as I skimmed through Noddy's Book of Big Companies that this is a hard game because hardly any companies have realised what fun it is to have their own postcodes.

Worse, some have set out to confuse. BP's postcode ends BA, while NatWest's ends BP. What can this mean? I demand on behalf of Big Chief I-Spy that companies get themselves interesting postcodes forthwith. If not, they should be taxed with vigour.

OCCASIONALLY, when my quill breaks, I am forced to use a computer. Now we all know that computer people love jargon, but there is a certain part of every programme where the person who writes it desperately tries to be human. This is the "error message".

In the old days (more than three weeks ago), the computer would simply start fizzing, or go blank, or most likely of all freeze, so you lost your work without knowing why. Well you still lose your work, but a message now comes up with emotions that range from sadistic to cloying.

My Apple Macintosh tends to sadism. When something goes horribly wrong, it tells me there has been a "fatal error", and displays a picture of a bomb with the fuse lit. A computer running Windows 95 copes with similar disaster by claiming that a programme has "performed an illegal operation". An image of a word processor disk being handcuffed and marched off to the nick springs to mind.

But it is when the computer is trying to be funny that I wish I had a brick to hand. "Unfortunately, no-one is listening to keystrokes at the moment. You might as well stop typing," my machine chirped the other day.

Another time it said this: "Damn, an error has occurred, in fact it was error 37, not very informative I know, sorry." To which the only answer is, you will be sorry. Oh yes you will be ...

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - North West London - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Selby Jennings: Corporate Communications & Marketing Specialist – Geneva

120,000 - 150,000 chf + bonus: Selby Jennings: A leading Swiss Private Banking...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn