Peter Rhodes on the four-day week, computer logic and happy memories of a Club 18-30 trip
IT is easy to rubbish Labour's suggestion of replacing the standard five-day week with a four-day week. But I once worked in an office where they operated a nine-day fortnight. It meant every alternate weekend was a long weekend. The system was popular and it worked well, although we all suspected that, no matter whether it was a four or five-day week, we still worked the same number of hours.
IGNORE the snobby attacks on long-frozen food in the wake of the Pret a Manger allergy deaths. If it weren't for the global frozen-food industry it wouldn't be only "fresh" rolls that vanished from the menu. In a pre-frozen age, the British snack industry consisted of crisps, pickled eggs, well-thumbed sandwiches and pies whose lids you never dared look under. Do we really want a return to that?
SO farewell, Club 18-30. After 50 years of booze and bawdiness, the brand will soon cease operating. I have a certain fondness for it because, back in 1981, my very first freebie (sorry, holiday-travel research project) was with 18-30 to Majorca. The company wisely put the press party far away from the debauchery, in a four-star hotel. Each day we were taken out to see the 18-30 holidaymakers disporting themselves, rather like the gentry of the 18th century being shown around Bedlam asylum.
THE Club 18-30 lads were laddish but it was the tipsy, predatory women that came as a surprise. The ringleader, a big, noisy lass, was barely off the airliner before she went both topless and legless. In journalistic mode, I asked what attracted her to a Club 18-30 holiday. "That," she leered, pointing straight at the crotch of a passing lad. Where was she from? "Nottingham." And what did she do for a living? "Police officer."
CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond promised to raise the threshold at which we start paying income tax to £12,500 from 2020. This would have put an extra £130 a year in every basic rate taxpayer's pocket. Now, faced with a cash crisis in the NHS, there is talk of scrapping the promise. In other words, instead of getting an extra £2.50 a week which we'd hardly notice, collectively we'll be giving our hospitals and nurses an extra £2 billion a year. Now the strange part. In poll after poll, the Brits nobly declare they would gladly support tax rises to help the NHS. Yet now it's happening, you wouldn't believe the whingeing.
THE march of AI (artificial intelligence) goes on, with computers making ever-smarter predictions about human needs. I recently ordered a small cushion on eBay. The computers digested this information and quickly posted a "You may like" message. Based on my order of a cushion, eBay suggested I might also like to buy: a pair of stabiliser wheels for a child's cycle, a buffing kit for polishing car wheels, a device for stretching an artist's canvas, a digital automatic fish-food dispenser, a fancy-dress bow tie, four reusable eyebrow shaping stencils and a bow for playing a cello. Uncanny, innit?