Charles Nevin: A very brief history of time and motion

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The Independent Online

Happy Monday. And I hope you're reading this responsibly, as today, remarkably, is the 96th anniversary of the death of Frederick Winslow Taylor, American inventor of the time and motion study. I have two thoughts from the great man to fire you up for another working week: "In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first..."; and: "Hardly a competent workman can be found who does not devote a considerable amount of time to studying just how slowly he can work and still convince his employer that he is going at a good pace." Thanks. I'm puzzled why Frederick didn't save time and paper by dropping the Winslow and insisting on Fred.

Another chance to consider some recent events and come to your own conclusion: 1. Neighbours in Folkestone have been complaining about a man repeatedly playing Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman". 2. Neighbours in Norwich are complaining about a 14-year-old piano prodigy playing too loudly. 3. East Anglian farmers are searching for ways of scaring off a plague of pigeons. 4. Davina McCall.

Cumberland Sausage has joined the list of protected British specialities, coiling up alongside Cornish pasties and Stilton. Time to extend safeguards to other proud British products being eyed up for unscrupulous imitation by foreigners: Blind Scouse, Gruel, Battenberg, RBS, Milibands, Lib Dem Promises, Tony Blair's Manhood, William Hague's Mojo and the Nerve of Marco Pierre "Bootifull" White. It's too late for Welsh Rarebit, though, as the Italians have already nicked it and call it pizza or something.

Do you recall that the film of Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III became The Madness of King George in case it was thought the third in a horror series? Now the film of The Eagle of the Ninth, Rosemary Sutcliff's fine novel about the lost Roman legion allegedly deep fried by the Picts, has been renamed The Eagle in case potential audiences think it is about golf. This explains the puzzled people in pastel shades I have noticed over the years at The Driver, Green Card, The Hole, Save the Tiger, The Third Man, and, of course, Der Bunker (1992). And those in the replica shirts at Miller's Crossing, Psycho, My Left Foot, Brazil and Blow Up. Happy Monday.