From the monthly archives: février 2012

Copyright Bibi © ++

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Mrs Moneypenny bows to public opinion
and enforces her own incentive cuts.

Scene:  The Moneypenny kitchen. An important budget negotiation – or lesson for life, as I also like to think of it – is under way.

CC#2: Mum, why have you only paid me half my incentive pay for 2011?

Me: Well, the general feeling at home was that you didn’t deserve it.

CC#2: But I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me! In the past week I’ve registered for my American university SAT exam on May 5, met with my Oxbridge tutor and gone to extension physics. Last year I beat all your targets for my GCSE grades. I thought we had an agreement that if I met or exceeded all your expectations in 2011 you would pay me my incentive payment at the end of January. In full.

Me: I know that you’ve done well, and I’m very pleased, but as you know I tell everyone that I run my family like a business. So a lot of people have mentioned that I will need to be making cuts.

CC#2: Well, no one said that last year, so why are they saying it now?

Me: It’s because for most people things are really tough right now. The sight of a privileged, well-educated middle-class child getting an incentive is unpalatable. Anyway, you don’t need it. You already have a MacBook, Dr Dre headphones, a Kindle and a Superdry jacket, so what do you need the money for?

CC#2: Mum, since when have you been means-testing my incentive based on assets? Do you do this to your employees at work? Do you check who has saved hard, paid off their mortgages and funded their pensions – and give them a pay cut?

Me: No darling, of course not.

CC#2: So why are you doing this to me? My incentive isn’t much compared with what other boys I know get. And look how many A-levels I’m doing. Five!

Me: That’s not the point. You’re more of a public figure than they are – you’ve got a mother who writes a national newspaper column and presents a television show, so the public has a right to have a view on your incentive payment.

CC#2: Mum, since when did our financial arrangements become a public concern? To coin one of your own phrases, it’s not a popularity competition. This isn’t The X Factor. You’ve always told me that my goals for the year and the incentive that you and Dad give me will be agreed annually. You had the chance then to tell me I wasn’t performing or to change my incentive payments. And what about the other deal we did?

Me: What was that, darling?

CC#2: That if I didn’t smoke until I was 21 you would give me a deposit on a flat.

Me: Yes, well, we might have to change our minds about that as well.

CC#2: What? This is ridiculous. Can’t I rely on anything we’ve agreed?

Me: I’m sorry, darling, but public opinion is very important to me these days, and by the way if you don’t pass your driving test on February 14 I’m not paying for you to do another one.

CC#2: Mum! You paid for CC#1 to do his driving test three times, and I’ve been an exemplary student. And can I remind you that at my age he was caught smoking at school and was removed as a prefect.

Me: You’ll thank me one day. This is excellent preparation for real life – look what happened to Stephen Hester at Royal Bank of Scotland. He was charged with turning RBS around and selling off the non-performing businesses, and by all accounts has done an excellent job as CEO. But despite agreeing his pay structure in advance the government has bowed to popular opinion to cut what he gets.

CC#2: Then why doesn’t the government just nationalise RBS and then they can control him the way you control me?

Me: Because then RBS’s liabilities would have to be taken on to the national balance sheet and that will be the end of our AAA rating.

CC#2: But Mum, he didn’t even take his bonus in the end.

Me: Correct! So you won’t be needing the rest of your incentive either.

Exit CC#2 to sounds of grumbling.


Thanks to the FT Week End Magazine!   
(Click here to access full article.)

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Zagat Blog has just published a list of 10 annoying restaurant trends.

While I do not agree that all of them I really relevant (but then, maybe I haven’t been to a lot of trendy annoying places!), here are a few I liked:

Dogs in Cafes/Outdoor Restaurants
Sometime during the early aughts, toting around your dog in your purse became acceptable social behavior (along with texting during dinner and talking about Twilight). As a result, it seems more and more restaurants started bending health code rules to please overly entitled « pooch pushers » who insist on dragging their smelly mutts around with them 24/7. Don’t get us wrong, we love animals (I don’t), we just don’t need to eat dinner next to them (definitely not). Still not convinced that this trend has gone too far? There are restaurants now offering doggy menus. (Is this a joke?)

Overzealous Wine Pouring
If there’s one thing we definitely don’t need help with, it’s pouring our own alcohol. We hate when servers are constantly topping off our glasses (clearly in an effort to sell more booze) when they’re already mostly full – leaving our wine/beer to get warm and stale in the process.

Designer Ice
While bigger, fewer ice cubes help keep drinks cool without watering them down, we’re really not a fan of those giant ice blocks that knock against our teeth as we’re sipping. Also note to restaurants – no one needs an ice cube in the shape of a dodecahedron.

Enormous Wine Glasses
What’s with the humongo glasses? We realize a bigger glass makes for tastier wine, blah blah blah, but when the table is barely 12 in. across, those gigantic wine glasses leave little room for the more important stuff – the food! Plus, using bigger glasses makes the wine pours looks smaller, which can’t be a good thing in terms of pleasing customers.

Ketchup Snobbery (love this one)
We don’t care if your homemade ketchup was hand-squished from eight different types of artisanal heirloom tomatoes. With a burger and fries, just give us good old-fashioned Heinz. « A » for effort, guys, but we cringe hearing things like this: “Oh, we don’t have ketchup but we do have our homemade organic red pepper jam.” Um, no. We also hate when a restaurant is too snobby to provide regular ketchup at all! Meanwhile they’re serving burgers, fries and other commonly ketchup-ed items. Lame.

Sparkling, Flat or Filtered Tap?
Is this a trick question? We realize that the dreaded water question must be asked – but seriously, there’s gotta be a better way to phrase it, because restaurants that make their servers say this seem to be trying to trick their customers into ordering a pricey bottle of water. If we want bottled water, we know how to ask for it.

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Not very glamorous… but hey, it’s an official survey!

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