It’s all smoke & sundials …

nor in Llanfair PG

nor in Llanfair PG

Maybe he was just trying to compete with the speed with which Amazon delivers groceries. And he was so close to his depot too, only to have his journey cut short by the unfortunate accident he caused – trashing five other vehicles and a house. For all one knows the Tesco driver had been told to ‘shake a leg’ that day.

Perhaps the driver had been told about Amazon pulling out all stops to compete in the grocery-delivery business and that they were going to take on the big supermarket chains. Amazon boast that if a customer places an online order by 10am they will receive their delivery by dinnertime. And if you shell out more that £35.00 there is no delivery fee!

The report states that the driver was treated for shock. Perhaps the other vehicle-owners and the people in the house didn’t need treatment, but the report wasn’t that clear?

After last week’s revelations about the possibility of glasses with lines on them to indicate the amount of units in them, another marked glass has made its appearance. This time stocktakers can relax as it may not make up too much of their customer’s inventory they have to budget for as it won’t be compulsory. A pair of friends have perfected the ultimate range of “sunglasses” only not the type you wear on your face.

This is a sundial-on-a-beer-glass. Which is great news for those folk who are drinking outside, in sunny weather and somewhere along the 51st parallel of latitude who don’t have a watch or a mobile with a clock on it. So it is great if you happen to be in Canada, Germany or even Kazakhstan (not sure how popular it will be there…) – or anywhere else along that line of latitude you’ll be fine. The trick is knowing which way to align the glass so that it will accurately indicate the time. Jackie Jones quite rightly reflects that “there is nothing else like it on the market.” It does NOT come with a compass attached, so you’ll have to BYO.

Jon Rutter and his team of stocktakers have no need to worry about this time-telling-beer-glass being added to many clients stock, though. As the further north they go the possible usage of this quirky item wanes. The Scots won’t be able to enjoy at all, even when the sun does come out over Edinburgh, because they’re on 56°N.

How do you say it

Listen here!

The locals in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch (affectionately, and most sensibly known as Llanfair PG by the residents) have launched a voluntary project of making their town a non-smoking zone, even outdoors! Predictably, the smokers lobby group ‘Forest’ is reported to be ‘fuming’ but the Anglesey council said that the scheme had been ‘widely welcomed.’

But this raises another question that doesn’t appear to have been answered – what about the e-ciggie proponents? Can they ‘power-up’ in Llanfair PG and will ‘Forest’ fight in their corner because there is no real smoke?

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“Big Brother” also slips up from time to time …

Line Of Police Cars In EnglandMany have complained that we live in a society where our every move is scrutinized. Others embrace the concept arguing that if we aren’t doing anything wrong there is no need for concern. But Sophie Vaughan was minding her own business in traffic, in a traffic jam no less, when she took a sip from her Slush Puppy.

A sharp-eyed policeman on a bike spotted her actions and handed her a £100 fixed penalty for ‘driving without due care and attention.’ Perhaps he thought she would throw cold Slush Puppy in his face and felt he needed back-up, so he called for reinforcements and another three colleagues came to his support. Ms Vaughan will now have to go to court to have the 3 penalty points that came with the fine rescinded, even though there is no clarity in the law on whether eating or drinking while driving is illegal. The law merely states that ‘if you present a significant danger’ and if the police think ‘you are not in proper control of the vehicle.’ So it appears that this particular band of four officers felt that sitting in a stationery vehicle and sipping a drink rendered Ms Vaughan reckless.

But for the Met officer who was caught on camera, sipping at his drink while he was driving his patrol car there seems to be a bit of the pot calling the kettle black going on. I’m sure the Met would argue that police officers undergo stringent driver training before being placed in charge of a vehicle, so presumably being able to “sip-and-drive” comes into their training regime.

What happens if someone is seen chewing gum while driving?

Another ‘Big Brother’ moment occurred when it was mooted that pubs or restaurants should have glasses with lines marked on them that indicate how many units of alcohol are in the glass. The campaigners for this move appear to think that if the lines are prominently displayed on each glass then consumers will suddenly suffer a dose of ‘guilt and responsibility’ and only consume what the recommended plimsoll line indicates. Or consumers will decant their drinks into their own glasses or they will develop ‘line-blindness’ as a consequence.

If the move was introduced, would the Palace also follow suit at their State Functions? Would restaurants be able to order colour-coded lines on their glasses to match their décor? It would be a maître-d’s nightmare trying to get his table settings to look good in a Michelin-starred establishment with all those lines, logos and information printed on their finest crystal.

For hard-working stocktakers there was some cost-cutting good news from the USA recently. A 14 year old student in Pennsylvania has advised the USA Government how they can save $400m by making a simple adjustment to the way they print out things. He worked out and analysed that by merely changing the font on their documents from Times New Roman to Garamond the amount of ink saved on the less bulky font will save that massive amount of dosh!

Now if Jon Rutter and his professional team recommended a pub or restaurant change their menu fonts in order to be more profitable, it is unlikely to save them $400m – but the principle of using less ink on the fonts and not so many twiddly bits as decoration could reduce the number of times the print cartridges are changed, which mean savings. Stocktaker’s job done!

Or you could just use a blackboard – chalks are probably cheaper than paper and print cartridges. It would save more trees too.

“… we apologize for the inconvenience …” (it’s April Fools, and you’re it!)

Looking through the papers yesterday, or watching stories on the TV it was difficult to discern what was true or what were “April Fool” gags. Some of the real events should have fallen into the ‘you couldn’t make it up‘ category while others were just plainly bizarre to the extent that if you analyse any news story these days, they should all be of the “April Fool” variety.

Take the news that Tesco staff banned a customer from paying for his petrol using the £20 commemorative coins for instance. They then called the cops and banned him from the premises! Later they stuck up a sign saying,Please make sure you have significant funds to pay for your fuel. Sorry for any inconvenience. What’s really bizarre is the fake apology at the end … many folk will ask, when has a firm really been sorry for any inconvenience?

Another “you couldn’t make it up” event was Lady Gaga doing a “Big-Bird” impression in New York. That’s what happens when you let some celebrities go “free range” it seems.

Nike timeoutWhat is glaringly obvious is that Nike won’t be sorry for any of the inconvenience fans might face in wanting to purchase the Replica England Team World Cup shirt. At £90 each there’s an outcry at another rip-off to the extent that the Sports Minister is demanding Nike “rethink” – I wonder whether Nike will listen or ‘just do it’ anyway? Maybe that’s why their website was down. Possibly they were ‘rethinking’ as the Minister suggested, but they weren’t apologising.

And does the ECB’s gag on the news of Kevin Pietersen’s sacking actually help? The ECB might as well issue the following statement:

we apologise for the inconvenience of not letting you know the full story as to why we sacked Pietersen. We want you to speculate and spread rumours over the next number of months so that we can continue to say ‘no comment’ because we’ve been practising that line and it would be a pity to waste it.

There might have been some stocktaker’s eyes lighting up at the news that Heston Blumenthal was moving the Fat Duck down under for six months while the premises in Bray get a refurb. Heston intimated that he was shifting the eatery to Melbourne virtually lock, stock and even the sign to let the Aussies experience what his three-star dining is like. No ‘XXXX’ beer and beetroot with his burgers! He also said he was shifting the ‘whole team’ with him. And as Jon Rutter will tell you, a decent stocktaker is part of any team that makes a place profitable and function correctly. His role is just as vital as the sous chef or the front of house manager.

No one has yet confirmed whether this news of the move to the Antipodes is really an April Fool’s joke or whether it is serious. But if it is on the cards, then the £190.00 meal for two will see Sheila and Bruce shelling out AUD350.00.

But I’m sure the management will apologise to Bruce for this inconvenience, and of course they will mean it too.

Social media could go ‘viral’ …

0833-business-1100021594-10182013Nearly a year ago we made the point that like it or not, social media is here to stay. Some folk use it much more than others – either as tools to help their business, others, merely as a means to stay in touch with gossip and frivolous communications with friends.

One person (and maybe there are others too) use it as a form or revenge to vent their ire on bad or non-existent service. The case in point is when a Bristol graphic designer ordered and paid for a PS3 console from a Gumtree advertiser but his item never arrived. And when he couldn’t get hold of the ‘seller’ he realized he’d been conned out of his money. The police felt that there was little hope of ever catching the conman so Mr Joseph used his unlimited O2 contract to extract his revenge by sms. Having the conman’s mobile number he merely copied and pasted the entire works of Shakespeare into one message and sent it to him – all with one click. Mr Joseph’s iPhone automatically breaks the message down in over 29 000 messages of 160 words and merrily sends them on their way.

So if you happen to spot a Gumtree ad where someone is selling a “fully functional mobile that recites all Shakespeare’s plays” perhaps it would be the conman trying to relieve himself of an sms deluge.

One of the most well-known, some would say notorious, sites that people consult about checking on good and bad experiences, is Tripadvisor. Laughing Buddha owner Jin Cheng tells of how he spent years building his reputation on Tripadvisor but seems to have only negative reviews now owing to his ‘losing it’ with his customers and having 43 patrons walk out en masse without paying after the row over service. Police have commented that it is a ‘civil matter’ – some might suggest to the Kent Police that events were decidedly uncivil.

So with the Laughing Buddha’s decided lack of humour going viral in the most negative way, consider how a social media trend has had the opposite result and raised over £8m for charity. The idea of ladies with no make up,  posting ‘selfies’ on the internet was the unique idea of Fiona Cunningham. But it went further by her urging some friends to make a donation to a cancer charity when posting a ‘bare-faced’ picture and then issuing a challenge to some other friends. She said she was inspired by Kim Novak’s decision not to wear make up to the Oscars and she just took it further.

The recent good news the Chancellor declared also went viral – the news that the alcohol duty escalator was scrapped and the price of beer coming down spread pretty rapidly. The news was being ‘Tweeted’ as it happened so those sitting in pubs and following events knew about it straight away and probably ordered a celebratory pint immediately.

Jon Rutter and the team of professional stocktakers welcome this news with their customers – and they are also working on getting their own “How our stocktaking service can help YOU!” video on YouTube to spread the word too.

It seems that using social media is the effective way to share all types of information, not at all “Much ado about nothing,” it’s more about dealing with a tempest. We have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more, is there a social media platform named ‘Shrew‘ yet?

This £ is genuine, Guv – it has 12 sides to it!

Image: Chris (chidsec)

Image: Chris (chidsec)

Over the centuries there has been the cry for education – and that it will make a difference. It will be the factor that allows one to move forward. To be successful. But even with 17 GCSE’s it didn’t stop a young lass from Blackpool looking like a right plonker!

Her ‘education’ saw her referring to the President of the USA as ‘Barraco Barner’ but she blamed this misnomer as a fault with the predictive text function on her mobile phone. As one does. She was also quick to point out that politics was not her strong suit. But that she had gone ahead anyway and voiced a political thought on ‘something that wasn’t her strong suit’ could point to the idea that young folk are trying to become more politically aware especially with an election coming up in the next year. 

One wonders what names she’ll assign to the current crop of politicians sitting in Westminster – Cameron Davies, or Edmund Miller?

It’s a very good thing that spreadsheets and accounting packages don’t have predictive text – or maybe they do – if you glance at the comparison prices recently revealed in the latest supermarket war. The poor stocktakers must be tearing their hair out at the way things change. Morrisons have slashed the price of certain foods, forcing others to follow suit in order to stay competitive.

And the consumers raised a collective cheer!

However, the downside for the consumers is that they might have to supermarket-hop in order to take full advantage of the lower prices. These days most shoppers are too street-wise to fall for the ‘loss-leader’ strategy implemented years ago that attracted customers with really low prices on selected items only to catch them on the other things they chucked in their trolleys that were much dearer than in other shops. This was the way things levelled out for the supermarkets and they continued to make profits. But looking at the price comparison charts it appears Lidl and Aldi still have the lower prices.

Some changes take longer than others. The £1 coin is going to change …. but not yet …. only in 2017. Her Majesty approved the change yesterday but one wonders why it takes so long to make a new one? After all, the artwork and mock-ups are done, George Osborne didn’t take the Queen a rough pencil sketch to approve did he? And the reason for the change is apparently the new coin will be harder to copy. So the chaps circulating the counterfeit ones have another 3 years to ‘make hay’ so to speak.

Of course not everyone is happy with the proposed new coin. A whole phalanx of Councils and vending machine owners are already saying the thicker coin will mean they have to modify their machines at huge cost. But people like Jon Rutter and other forward thinkers who know about keeping up with technology and trends will be advocating using things like apps, smart phones, pre-paid credits and scanners to pay for things that vending machines vend. If they’re going to change the machines they might as well change them to the type of technology that can handle future changes ad infinitum instead of just making the slots bigger.

And seeing as they have three years before the new twelve-sided pound hits the streets, they’d better get on with it! Let’s see who starts innovating – could this be a “Dragons Den” opportunity?

“Does my bum look big on this bar stool?”

vegetablesA recent Oxfam report indicates that the Netherlands is the best place to eat. But before all the gastronomes rush to cross the Channel from the country in 13th position (Britain) the report is not referring to the quality of the restaurants. No, the study is taking all kinds of other factors into account like access to food and produce, affordability, and diet-related diseases etc. It’s referring to ‘healthiest diet.’ Other countries in the top 12 were Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Australia, Luxembourg and Portugal.

But the report indicates that the Dutch show tendencies towards obesity with nearly 20% of the population having a BMI (body mass index) of more than 30. In case you didn’t know, the ideal BMI is between 18 and 25. But just how the average person measures this is not made clear … “he looks like a 23 to me.”

“Never! Much closer to a 20… hardly any wobble at all!”

The good news for those who are watching their calorie count is that the JD Wetherspoon chain have made it easy to pop down to the pub and have a meal of under 500 calories. They haven’t limited the calorie count on their drinks yet, so it’s up to the diner to watch that part of their intake. Their dishes sound quite appetizing – not at all like a friend who was on a 500 calorie-per-dish diet and remarked that the pile of leaves on his plate served up by his missus didn’t look like it was enough to keep a slug happy!

Hopefully the kitchen staff in the Wetherspoon pubs have one of those ultra sensitive Blumenthal-style scales that measures everything to the grain. All they need is someone in their eating area whipping out their own Propoints scale and checking that their Caeser salad (sans bacon) is not a fraction over “the allowance for the day” and then kicking up a fuss. One wonders whether ‘calorie count’ is in Jon Rutter’s stocktaker’s brief when they comment on profit margins and discuss ways of maximising value.

More good news (of sorts) for punters is that the Government plan to extend opening hours beyond the final whistle when England play in the World Cup. (Remember the concern a while back about closing times and the relationship to when England play their matches in Brazil?) The curve ball regarding the relaxing of the hours the pubs can stay open is that the Whitehall spokesman said that they have allowed for England being in penalty shoot-outs. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to that!

And for those pubs who don’t have sports channels to share football or other sports with their customers, Money-Makers have come up with some ideas of pulling in more business. One is that you could install a cinema room in your pub to keep the kids happy and occupied while mum and dad socialize with friends (… or weigh their salads). Another idea is to introduce ‘tribute dishes’ that let you share favourite meals or cuisines that famous people enjoyed. These, and other ideas have already been implemented by some establishments and they can attest to their success. Reports are that some of these moves “stimulate customer interest and also generate strong emotional attachment to the pub.”

If England have to go to penalties at 1 in the morning it would be hard to imagine what the “Roy Hodgson tribute meal” might be. The “strong emotional attachment” to certain pubs might backfire on the landlords!

Two iced teas and a ginger tom, please …

(Update: the butcher in Sudbury who was pressured by one person to remove his dead animal display from the window of his butcher shop has received so much support and encouragement from the local residents and businesses that he has put the display back up. The local businesses say that his display actually brings visitors to the area to see it and that there is a spin-off of increased sales to the neighbouring shops. It’s good to know that one complainer has basically been told to mind their own business – or words to that effect.)

Kiddy Kat 1There were two situations that caught the attention of the courts recently, and possibly also the attention of some stocktakers.

The first was the case of the ‘greasy-fingered’ McDonald’s customer. Mr Lucas is suing Ronald McD for $1.5 million because they neglected to give him more than one napkin and the incident caused him so much mental anguish he is now unable to work. Was that Californian McDonalds trying to save some costs on their overheads by cutting down on their paper napkins? Was it a suggestion from their stocktaker or Franchise holder? We’ll probably never know as unsurprisingly, they have declined to comment on the incident.

The other case was probably where a stocktaker (we have to blame someone) urged the management of an Essex school to make tomato ketchup freely available. So available that it was lining the corridors – or that’s how it sounds. One teacher was awarded £230,000 because he wasn’t looking where he was going and he slipped and hurt himself as he walked out the staffroom. With that type of payout, perhaps the rest of the staff will now diligently be looking for any stray sachets of tomato paste so they can also ‘hit the jackpot’ so to speak. And they said teaching wasn’t dangerous!

In other news, it is probably a first for some professional stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his team if they were asked to add ‘cat food’ and ‘kitty litter’ to their restaurant customer’s inventory. What has been popular for years in the Far East has arrived in London – the first ‘cat café’ where customers can have their cake and tea while cuddling a cat at the same time. And it seems to be very popular too, seeing as their website crashed from booking enquiries within hours of it opening. The owner does say that she is unable to own a cat herself where she lives – so I suppose the next best thing is to stock up with moggies at work. The cats are ‘resident’ so anyone wanting to visit can’t BYO (and if Jon Rutter does happen to visit there he would be well advised not to take Unique Billy with him – it could cause a bit of a stir)!

Hopefully, no one allergic to cats will visit either – it would be a test case if Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium were to be sued by someone because they had started sneezing uncontrollably as a result of the décor.

You can’t fool ’em … meat comes from animals!

Greyton Livestock 002Two people walk into a pub. The bloke orders a lager and the lady a glass of wine. The barman says, “how many calories in your wine? And how much ABV?”

She says, “whaaat?”

Well that’s what could be on the cards if Sainsbury’s efforts take off. They’re of the opinion that ‘… clear labelling has an important part to play in helping customers make healthier choices …‘ A recent survey they conducted indicated that 85% (not 82.3 or 86.1%) of Britons do not know how many calories there are in a glass of wine – and also that 66% would like to see calorie-labelling on alcohol (but there was no clarity as to whether the 66% figure is 66% of those polled thus making it 56% of all Britons).

A cynic may suggest that whether people know the calorific factor on alcohol or not wouldn’t make any difference to the consumer. Having had all the calories, salt, carbohydrate etc on food labels for years hasn’t seem to have made any difference to people buying what they want to eat. If they want bacon, they’ll buy it, and if they want croissants, they’ll buy them. Regardless of any fat or salt quantities itemised on the labels. (Stocktakers might not appreciate Sainsbury’s efforts – they might have to insert a whole lot more columns into their Excel spreadsheets if more options need to be available for dieting wine-bibbers).

The Welsh were celebrating in style this last week as they handed the the French their 6-Nations head on a plate to them by winning 27-6. possibly the Welsh team had all seen, and were inspired by Sam Warburton’s cameo appearance on a groom’s video project to surprise his new wife. Steven Williams had embarked on an ambitious plan to get all his wife’s heroes to send her a wedding greeting. And somehow he managed to get a star-studded array of personalities to send in personalised messages to Ceri wishing her well on her wedding day! Even Jimmy Carr and Matt Lucas weighed in with a personalized greeting to this winning Welsh team-up giving the guests the impression that they were all long-time friends.

But ‘impressons‘ seem to have caused offence to a few people in Sudbury who objected to the fact that JBS Family Butchers were displaying their wares in the shop window. You know, things like dead animals that people eat – pigs, chickens, cows, sheep and so on. The butchery has been doing it for years. For the last 100 in fact. And only now someone has gotten a bit miffed about it. Other butchers have expressed outrage at the petition that called for the goods on display to be removed, saying “… The people kicking up a fuss about this man have gone soft. They’ve lost touch with reality…” Professional stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his teams will probably also have to educate the public in outlying areas on how things like meat is ordered and break the truth to the ‘town-mice’ by letting them know that down at the pub, the ‘pork pie’ is really made from the little piggy that didn’t go ‘wee, wee, wee all the way home!

One wonders whether the folk moving to the country are also shocked that milk doesn’t really come from gold topped bottles in nice cold fridges in the supermarket, but from the nether regions of moo-cows. Perhaps, knowing this, they’ll just stick to taking their tea with cream instead!

Would your best friend tell you if your breath stank?

pressing Social Network iconWhen you’re in a good relationship it’s an unwritten rule (a ‘given’) that honesty and openness are part of that relationship. So this premise can be attached to the relationship that you should have with your accountant, or tax consultant, or solicitor. Or your stocktaker. But it is a two way street – you’d be expected to be open and honest with them in the same way they can be with you. So when they give advice and tips on how best to run your business, if you had a good relationship, you’d take it on board.

Some would say that getting involved in social media, like Facebook and Twitter would be outside the average stocktaker’s brief, it would also be true to suggest that if they mentioned something that would help, or hinder your business, it would be wise to consider it.

Take David Ford for instance, his business was doing so badly he was about to close his doors but decided on making an appeal through Facebook and in one day his business increased 40-fold! What we’re not clear about is where David got the idea to use social media to turn things around. It’s unlikely he had someone like stocktaker, Jon Rutter to help him. But someone gave him sound advice in the same way any good stocktaker would have done.

The adverse effect, however was visited on ex pub-manager Alistair Dempster who, probably acted against good advice. He started a campaign of defamation against his former boss. You’d have thought that over the course of the hate-campaign someone would have told Dempster that his “breath smelled” or something similar. Maybe he didn’t have any good friends. In any event, he ended up paying his ex boss damages and costs!

However, for an anonymous chef, something that really did smell so bad that he decided to blow the whistle about it, was the way one NHS Trust outsourced the preparation of meals to a caterer who delivers the “ready meals” to the hospital. The qualified chef is reduced to operating a microwave instead of preparing and cooking the food. He tells of many patients sending food back as inedible and then it all then gets chucked out anyway.

The whistleblower-chef has decided to remain anonymous for now in case it impacts his career prospects.

He goes to great pains to point out that most other Trusts don’t do this and that their food is fine. It would only be a matter of time and elimination before the responsible NHS bosses figure out who the culinary-mole really is. The query does spring to mind, though – why wasn’t the state of the culinary offerings widely Tweeted and Facebooked by the patients or their families before now? Perhaps they were concerned that their fare would be reduced to bread and water if they complained (the whistleblower hinted that bread and water would actually be more palatable than what is presently served). Perhaps a good friend advised them not to, and they listened.

One thing’s for sure, there was no reluctance of Tweeters to broadcast the news of Gordon Ramsay’s de-starring of his New York restaurant. He went on to say,“I started crying when I lost my stars. It’s a very emotional thing for any chef.” Maybe the Tweets from some of his patrons were also the cause of bringing tears to his eyes!

Hold on to your ‘toque’ … the Chefs are on the run!

Over the years many chefs and restaurants have striven to emulate the standards set by the French in the field of cuisine. In the background there has been a cultural war going on as to which nation produces the best food, the best plating, the best techniques. And the perception has been that cost’ has reflected quality – if it costs less, “… then it can’t possibly be as good as Monsieur Chef down the road whose food is frightfully dearer.” Most people have heard of the Michelin Guide and some will glibly boast of having eaten at a 2-star restaurant without really knowing what that means.

modern-table-setting-1013tm-pic-1185Not many have heard of the Gault-Millau culinary ‘rankings’ (pronounced: “go meeyo”). Among the French some even regard this as the food Oscars but compare the Michelin Guide as being the mere Cannes, Palme d’Or of food – still glitzy but not as significant. But those in the know are suggesting that the halcyon days of charging a small fortune for a smear on a plate with a scallop or two and some flowers are over. Restaurateur Jean-Claude Vrinat indicates, among other things that restaurateurs “Re-examine your economic policies, and think of the consumer’s pocketbook.” Cheers from all the consumers out there! (This is what good stocktakers have been doing for their clients for years – constantly examining, re-evaluating and adjusting to keep the client and the consumers happy).

Some trivia here: apparently the Gault-Millau culinary ‘rankings’ work on a score up to 20 and then the restaurant/chef may display from one to five toques (five being the highest). A toque is the correct name for the headgear that a chef wears. Which possibly explains why the Aussies rate their chefs as “1, 2 or 3-hatted” – maybe they just don’t speak French that well.

Looks can be deceptive. This was borne out by the police in Nottingham who nabbed a beggar for something and discovered the chap was carrying £800.00 in notes and small change on him. The proceeds of his three days work. The police also don’t believe that he’s homeless, as he claimed. However they had to let him go, with the dosh. So if a pub or restaurant in that area happen to have what might look like a dodgy character pitch up and ask for a brew and a nice meal, don’t be so quick to move him on. He could be loaded and just wanting a bit of peace and quiet!

The security at Tesco had no difficulty in identifying a horse in their shop in Co Durham though. The recent craze that has been sweeping the world, “neknominations” was played out by the lass on the horse downing a Pepsi (instead of alcohol) as she accepted her nomination and then challenged some friends of hers to upload their own videos within 24 hours. (The “neknomination” challenge is to nominate someone to down a drink in one go while having it videoed, then to nominate two others to do the same within 24 hours). While some of these challenges have been accepted by the nominees with fun and good grace, there have been some tragic events in the aftermath of the craze as people seek to do more and more outrageous things to better those who have nominated them for the challenge. Others have turned their nominations into opportunities to engage in acts of kindness to others less fortunate, making the video and then challenging others to do similar things instead of consuming alcohol.

Organisations and clubs like Rutters Stocktakers, Brighton Rugby Club and others are always up for a bit of harmless fun in the same way some have used the “neknomination” opportunities given to them to help those in their communities – all it takes is planning and dedication – just like making any business a success.