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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions