Do you see what I did there?

Irish Mick and I went for a slightly up-market pub dinner above Windermere on Tuesday. Afterwards, I went back to the bar:

Barmaid: Did you two enjoy your venison burgers?
Me: Yes, thanks, they were very nice—but they were dead deer.
Barmaid: …?
Me: Sorry, that was just a joke.
Barmaid: …?
Me: … A pun.
Barmaid: …?
Me: … Well, a double-pun, really… Venison: dead deer.
Barmaid: …?
Me: Two pints of bitter, please.

Violating Swiss neutrality

I was just wondering, entirely hypothetically, which would be the best route to take from Lissavruggy in County Galway to the Valvelspitze mountain in the Italian section of the Ötztal Alps.

As ever, Google Maps provided some useful advice, presenting me with two options: the first route (marked in blue) via Reims, Nancy and Zurich (1,932km); the second (marked in grey) via Brussels, Stuttgart and Ulm (2,053km).


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But Google's response presented me with something of a dilemma. While the first route is 121km shorter than the second, Google predicts that, in current traffic, it is likely to be 55 minutes slower.

Such dilemmas must be rife in the armed forces. Should one take the guaranteed shorter route, or the potentially faster but longer route? When it comes to military manoeuvres, as opposed to entirely hypothetical exercises, lives might well be a stake. Does one take the more roundabout route via Belgium, Germany and Austria (as Hitler, no doubt, would have), or does one violate Swiss neutrality by taking the more direct route via France and Switzerland?

I'm glad I don't have to make such decisions.

How about you?

If you were a military leader, and lives were at stake, would you violate Swiss neutrality for the chance to save 55 minutes by taking the more direct route?

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Please feel free to attempt to justify your answer in the comments.

(While you're at it, you might also wish to consider the pros and cons of taking the M6 Toll Road.)

A Lidl touch of glamour

The glamour has gone out of supermarkets.

—Prof. Jeremy Baker
ESCP Business School, Oct 2014

Prof. Baker pretty much hits the nail on the head, here: what modern supermarkets most certainly lack is glamour.

When I pulled up at Sainsbury's last week, would it really have been too much to ask for the foreign gentlemen in the car park who offered to wash my car to have worn something a bit more glamorous than damp-looking, brown overalls? Sequins, perhaps, or maybe even a top-hat. Furthermore, within the store itself, I can't help thinking they missed a golden opportunity recently when they installed new spotlights in the bananas section. Would a chandelier or two really have been all that out of place? And as for Deidre on the checkout: a very nice lady, I'm sure, but I reckon someone more of the calibre of Scarlett Johansson, say, or Cate Blanchett, might add a certain je ne sais quoi.

Carte Blanch

Sainsbury's new checkout lady?

Of course, where the supermarkets really missed a trick was at George Clooney's wedding last week. A civil ceremony in Venice is all well and good, but I'm sure, for the right financial incentive, the star of Ocean's Eleven would have been just as happy to lead his blushing bride down the Home Baking aisle at the Dewsbury branch of Lidl.

Tesco and Sainsbury's are in a bit of a mess at the moment. Put me in charge, and I'll soon add a touch of Hollywood sparkle.