And Finally Part II – July to December

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And Finally Part II – July to December

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Author Mark Richards

Last Friday we took a sideways look back at the first half of the year: the times when life did not exactly go according to plan. Today we reflect on July to December – and introduce you to two real heroes…

July

Our first hero was a Texas maintenance engineer, who on a bright and sunny day set out to change the lock on a Bank of America ATM. Unfortunately while performing this routine task our hero (understandably he preferred not to be named) trapped himself inside the ATM. He was only rescued when a customer tried to withdraw $100 and instead received a note saying, ‘Please help, I’m stuck in here.’ The customer naturally thought it was a joke, but on failing to spot any TV cameras and hearing a faint voice coming from the hole in the wall, decided to call the police…

Given that level of carelessness, it really is a good thing that robots and artificial intelligence will soon replace us.

Or maybe not…

A security robot in Washington was tasked with patrolling the foyer of an office building. Instead, it patrolled itself straight into the building’s fountain and ‘drowned.’ So much for 21st Century technology. ‘We were promised flying cars,’ wrote one observer on Twitter, ‘Instead they’ve given us suicidal robots.’

Never mind, the makers of the robot can always console themselves with a cup of tea and a Kit Kat – unless they happen to be in Japan. Nestle has opened a new factory there to make ‘exotic Kit Kats’ for which there is apparently a booming market in Japan. If you are like me and regard even a mint Kit Kat as a step too far, you had better cover your eyes. The new factory will make – among others – green tea and wasabi Kit Kats. Speaking as someone who once mistakenly ate a handful of wasabi nuts and whose mouth is still recovering, I think I will pass on that one…

August

You can tell you are getting old when you start complaining about the size of chocolate bars. ‘When I were a lad a Mars Bar were a foot long…’ Obviously, people exaggerate – then again, when I was at school I’m fairly certain it took three of us to even lift a Wagon Wheel…

Walnut Wip

By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

That unfortunate trend reached its low point in August with the news that Nestle are to introduce three new versions of the Walnut Whip… without a walnut. The new ‘Whips’ – sadly without the Walnut prefix – will be “available in Caramel, vanilla and mint” said the proverbial spokesman. But not wasabi…

Equally new in August was French President Emmanuel Macron, who certainly ‘whipped’ up a storm with the revelation that despite being in office for only three months he had managed to spend €26,000 on make-up. I have had one tube of £7.50 moisturiser in the bathroom cupboard for three years so I find that astonishing, but the beautiful Monsieur Macron is not alone…

So far the French leader has settled two bills for €16,000 and €10,000 from the public purse, but these pale into insignificance compared to his predecessor Francois Hollande’s €10,000 a month on a personal hairdresser – and Bill Clinton was famous for keeping Air Force One waiting on the tarmac while he received a haircut from a Beverly Hills stylist known as Christophe. But what about British politicians? The only information I can find is a Telegraph report from 2005, quoting a parliamentary written answer. Between 1999 and 2005 Tony Blair spent £1,800 of taxpayers’ money on make-up and grooming. That’s a national disgrace: just £300 a year. It is barely the cost of a Walnut-less Whip a day…

September

September was a disappointing month with most of the great and good back from holiday, behaving sensibly and not needing to apply the make-up.

clothes that grow

But there was an encouraging story from the world of technology, where the winner of the UK’s James Dyson Prize for Innovation was engineering graduate Ryan Yasin and his concept of ‘clothes that grow with your children.’ As we have reported previously, incomes are struggling to keep up with inflation so this is fantastic news for hard-pressed parents – and not just parents of toddlers. September is the month when many teenagers start university: they face the harsh reality of student loans and their parents face the equally harsh reality of ‘kitting them out’ with pots and pans and possibly even a textbook or two.

But at least new clothes won’t be an issue if Mr Yasin’s prototype clothes go into production. Freshers’ Week should be something to behold as everyone finds their way around campus wearing Thomas the Tank Engine tops and Mr Tickle trousers…

October

The beginning of October brought us the collapse of Monarch Airlines, leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded. On October 3rd the BBC reported that Monarch chief executive Andrew Swaffield was “absolutely devastated” by the break-up and that it was “a heart-breaking day.” The following day, City AM reported that Mr Swaffield had already registered his new business – an airlines consultancy – at Companies House. How wonderful to see someone bouncing back from adversity so quickly and what an example for us all as the New Year approaches…

Unite and Monarch airlines

By Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, America’s tech industry was rocked to its foundations as Facebook bought a company for less than a billion dollars. The company in question is called ‘tbh’ which stands for ‘to be honest.’ It has been in business for nine weeks and has just four employees. Facebook paid the staggeringly ludicrous price of ‘less than $100m’ for an app which has been downloaded five million times but obviously has made no money. What does it do? It encourages teenagers to be nice to each other…

November

Had I been writing this last year, my undoubted ‘Man of the Year’ would have been  Joaquin Garcia, a Spanish civil servant who failed to show up for work for six years without anyone at the Spanish water board noticing. Poor old Joaquin’s devotion to duty was only discovered when he turned up to collect an award for ‘two decades of loyal and dedicated service’ and his boss realised that he hadn’t seen him for quite a long time…

Joaquin – an engineer whose job was to supervise a waste water treatment plant – is now enjoying a well-deserved retirement – and 2017 brought another human dynamo to stand alongside Senor Garcia.

Step forward our second hero, Tom Colella, a 60-year-old electrician in Perth, Australia, who was sacked after playing golf – instead of working – 140 times over the last two years. But all credit to Tom, who relied on a 180-year-old scientific discovery for his jaunts to the golf course. A ‘Faraday cage’ – named after English scientist Michael Faraday – dates back to 1836 and is a device that can block electromagnetic fields.

Tom set up a Faraday cage by hiding his personal digital assistant inside an empty foil packet of Twisties – the Australian equivalent of cheese puffs. The result was that Tom’s employer couldn’t track his location, and Tom was off to the golf course. Until some spoilsport sent his boss an anonymous letter…

December

We wrote recently about the threat posed to the real economy by counterfeit goods, and December got off to a great start for HM Border Force and the Intellectual Property Office as they seized 82,320 pairs of fake Calvin Klein underpants worth a reputed £1.5m. (Eighteen quid a pair? Really?)

mach 3 razor

Along with the fake boxers, they also grabbed Gillette Mach 3 razor blades, Nike Vapormax trainers and 379 Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund football shirts. If that sounds suspiciously like your Christmas presents you may want to have a word with your relatives…

There was good and bad news for the Royal Navy in December as it took delivery of its new £3.1bn aircraft carrier ‘HMS Queen Elizabeth.’ But the bad news was that she (the boat, not Her Majesty) was leaking and taking in the small matter of 200 litres of seawater every hour. BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Beale said the leak was “highly embarrassing” for the Royal Navy, but dismissed rumours that the aircraft carrier would be renamed Leaky McLeakface

So having narrowly escaped treason we will leave you for this year. Thank you for reading this column over the last 12 months and our very best wishes for the New Year.

By | 2018-09-29T07:16:47+00:00 December 29th, 2017|Economy|0 Comments

About the Author:

A previous financial services business owner, Mark is an experienced Journalist Speaker, Speechwriter and Coach. He has written for a number of websites related to the financial sector and won numerous awards. Mark has also published a number of books.

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