Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Psst, Wanna Buy Some Cardboard Furniture?

Most surprisingly entertaining programme at the moment is Dragon's Den (BBC2, Tuesdays), a kind of Business Idol where people have to persuade a panel of millionaire tycoons to invest in their often crackpot schemes.
Most reviewers have focused on how loathsome the panel are. But you expect capitalists to be repugnant. I find the supplicant entrepreneurs more fascinating. Some are likeable dreamers but others are what used to be called 'spivs' - snake oil salesmen with the gift of the gab who used to operate on street corners but today, when the bullshit of business-speak can buy you credibility, a lot of them have gone mainstream. Fortunately the panel didn't get where they are today or make their squillions without recognising a devious 'Del Boy' when they see one. And, as with Pop Idol judges, they let them have it with both barrels. I feel envious because, in past employment, I've had to listen to some of these people's business ideas but wasn't in a position to tell them to crawl back under their stones.

One young chap, who might as well have had the words 'dodgy' and 'twat' tattooed on his forehead, said he was an entrepreneur. When asked to explain his precise role in his company he simply said "I'm the key man." Of course, he may have been speaking literally and held the key to some back street lock-up.

There was a wonderful moment last night when a woman who was going to conquer the world with cardboard furniture was asked about her past career. "Well," she said rather haughtily, "I launched Sky Television." There was the most pregnant of pauses as the camera panned along the panel's faces. It turned out that she'd worked at an advertising agency that handled the Sky account. As an 'executive', naturally. But you could see the panel wondering if she'd been the tea lady.

Another woman was trying to sell giant beanbags that hung from the ceiling on huge chains as an alternative to sofas. She thought they'd be popular with university students. At nearly £1,000 a throw. Yeah, right. Incredibly, one of the panel gave her £50,000 so you might yet see them at DFS at £899.99 (pay nothing for 3 years and then get 10 years free credit). But you'd better check your ceiling joists before you invite Jonny Vegas round for a drink.


Anyone who's surprised by the abuse by some British soldiers in Iraq must be living in cloud cuckoo land.
We know from events at Deepcut Barracks and elswhere that bullying and abuse is endemic in the services.
We also hear that in garrison towns in Britain the crime rate has plummeted since so many soldiers have been posted to Iraq.
As far as the officer class is concerned, we know that there's always been a culture of bullying and abuse in private schools, while for many of the 'poor bloody infantry' the army has always provided a respectable alternative to a criminal career.
And we know that successful soldiers have to be desensitised and conditioned to regard the enemy as less than human.
We should also remember some of the officially sanctioned torture that was inflicted on suspects in Northern Ireland over many years.

A new programme about dialect and slang on Radio 4 today included the wonderful phrase '5 finger discount' for shoplifting. That came from Telford. Not being deeply immersed in street culture, I don't know how widespread it is.

Another one, provided by Craig Charles, was 'going dub, dub, dub' on your mobile - accessing the internet on your phone. That one reminded me that 'www' must be the clumsiest abbreviation ever, weighing in at a massive nine syllables. Unless some techie tells me otherwise, I can't see any reason why internet addresses couldn't have had a snappier prefix.


At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Five finger discount goes back to the 60s, at least, and may be even older.
It's a fairly common expression in North America. I vaguely recall a television show of that name in the 70s,and at least one music group has adopted it as a moniker.
Lovely, blog, btw.
(anonymous only because I don't have a blogger pasword)

At 4:46 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Thanks for that. I thought that was probably the case. It's probably on one of the language websites but I was too lazy to look it up.

At 6:22 PM, Blogger Man Do said...

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At 7:28 AM, Blogger Ethan Smith said...

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