Wednesday, 28 April 2004

Concealed weapon

When my wife checked in for her flight to Phoenix she was careful not to be carrying any scissors or nail files with her, but Security did not seem at all concerned about another potential weapon she had in her handbag. This was careless of them: she could easily have produced it in mid-flight and said to the pilot "Now, fly this aircraft to Cairo or I'll curl your eyelashes!"

Tuesday, 27 April 2004

30 St Mary Axe

Today Sir Norman Foster's building is being shown to the media.

All this talk of erotic gherkins and towering innuendos is nonsense. No-one seems to have noticed that it is without doubt a giant suppository.

Monday, 26 April 2004

Before we gang awa'

Farewell then Estée Lauder, who outlived Sir Harry by 54 years and died on April 24th, aged 97.

Sunday, 25 April 2004

I did it à ma façon

When a French girl told me that 'My Way' was actually a French song called 'Comme d’habitude' I found this hard to believe but she was right. We know that Paul Anka had something to do with it (presumably the English lyrics) and a quick check with a marvellous website called ABC de la Chanson Francophone suggests that the tune and (French) lyrics were written by Jacques Revaux, Claude François and Gilles Thibault.

But I don’t see how the French words: Je me lève et je bouscule/ Tu ne te reveille pas comme d’habitude… go with the same tune that fits And now, the end is near/ And so I face the final curtain. I mean, there seem to be too many syllables.

Never mind. Discovering that website was a great joy; it has the words of over 19,000 French songs and over 16,000 “foreign” (mostly English) ones, of all periods up to 2004 and constantly updated. Copyright, of course, but OK for “usage privé ou éducatif”.

[Four years later I wrote another note about Comme d'Habitude.]

Thursday, 22 April 2004

Easy money

In the Observer last Sunday there was an interview with the man who was a junior manager in a small provincial bank in 1968, when he invented the idea of global electronic money. He called it Visa International and sold it to the world.

Today in the UK we own 60 million credit cards and have a debt on them of £53.5 billion (75% of the European total). Each year, British adults make, on average, almost 40 credit card purchases (the French average two a year, the Germans one every two years). In the United States the value of transactions on cards has just passed those for cheques and cash.

If he had put his name to the product, the inventor of Visa would be the best-known man on earth, but he thought this might affect its popularity.

His name is Hock.

Monday, 19 April 2004

Probably apocryphal

This one has been on the internet for years but perhaps not everyone has seen it:

At a computer exhibition in the US, Bill Gates said that if General Motors had advanced with technology in the same way that the computer industry has, cars would cost $25, get a thousand miles to the gallon and run at two thousand miles an hour.

Piqued by this, GM hit back. They said that if cars were designed along the same lines as computers, they would crash twice a day for no reason whatever. Every time they repainted the lines on the road, you would have to buy a new car.

Occasionally, if you performed some complicated manoeuvre, such as turning left, your car would stop. You would then have to go to the hard shoulder, take the engine out, and reinstall it. Before the airbags could be deployed, you would have to click on a sign saying: “Are you sure?” Instead of warning lights for water, battery and fuel, a sign would light up saying: “This car has performed an illegal act”.

Every now and again, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna. You’d need to press the “start” button to turn the engine off.

Wednesday, 14 April 2004

Born 14th April 1904

It is extraordinary to be celebrating today the centenary of a man who died a mere four years ago.

When asked if there were any special problems about acting in his nineties, Gielgud replied "Well, I sometimes have difficulty in remembering my lines. But then, I always did........."

Shakespeare's not the same without him.

Saturday, 10 April 2004

Pointless but funny

Those who are not fortunate enough to have The Guardian come through their letter-box every morning will have missed the latest in Simon Hoggart’s series under the above title:

“Doctor, doctor, I keep thinking I’m a moth!”
“You don’t need a doctor, you need a psychiatrist.”
“I know, but your light was on.”