Mars probe

The change in the value of the pound has become so great over the years that most people are totally mystified about its true worth, if it has one. Although this may be more the case in the elderly, who fondly recall that you could go for a night out in the pub, become embroiled in an altercation on the way home, and still have change from a ten bob note after paying your fine on the Monday.

Some years ago someone invented the Mars Standard to measure the true value of the economy, which was much more reliable than the vagaries of the pound, which is subject to all kinds of speculation as we’ve seen over the Brexit shenanigans, with the worst probably still to come.

The idea, as I grasped it (stickily as it happens, the chocolate running), was that you measured past costs in Mars bars, the bar being packed with staple commodities like cocoa, vegetable fats, milk solids, sugar – lots of sugar and calories – in the shape of an ingot. So while the pound plunged in value the Mars Standard remained a stable economic reference (no-one speculates over them, unlike sterling or gold).

An example would be that if it cost you, say, 50,000 Mars bars to travel to Manchester in 1956, how many would it cost today? And no, I don’t know the answer, or even how much a Mars bar costs today.

This came back to me when I stumbled across a column by Philip Rodney in The Times (it was free, needless to say). Unless I am mistaken Rodney is a former lawyer from Glasgow who likes loud music and fast cars, although I could have confused the adjectives. The article was about what aircraft manufacturer Boeing should have learned from Tunnock’s Tea Cakes. Honestly. The plane company’s price has plunged because of the recent disasters, the two crashes of its 737 Max aircraft. Whereas Tunnock’s Tea Cakes have continued to remain steady and profit dentists mightily for aeons.

In 2001, Boeing moved its corporate headquarters from Seattle, where the assembly work continued, to Chicago, 1,700 miles away.

I don’t know the Mars bar cost of that but it must have been hefty – on the basis that if the suits were close to the rude mechanicals they would get drawn into unwanted

day-to-day business operations, like making sure the planes didn’t fall out of the sky.

The Tunnock’s comparison was that the boss (Mr Tunnock, no less) lived just 350 yards away from the factory (who measured?) and could pop in, stir the mix or sweet-talk a shop steward, whatever was necessary to solve the problem.

These Mars and Tunnock’s lessons are the crucial business ones they don’t teach you at Harvard on your MBA course.

Rough estimate

Golf may ruin a good walk but it can prolong your life. This was the headline information in a report from the University of Missouri this week, based on a 10-year study of 5,900 crusties in the US, the average age being 72. A round of golf a month could cut the risk of early death by almost half, it was trumpeted. Really?

Just 384 of the sample played golf and what was found was that there was a slightly lower rate of death among golfers compared to non-golfers, 15.1% compared to 24.6%. They didn’t compare golfers to ten-pin bowlers, hikers, gardeners, jugglers, cyclists or couch cookies, just the 5,516 others, hardly a sturdy control group. So while 18-hole theory made a great headline there was a gaping one in the conclusion.

Cry Fore!

Shine a light

Older readers may recall Arthur Montford and Scotsport on a Sunday afternoon. Arthur supported Morton and wore bilious check jackets on screen which induced a migraine in the viewer. But prior to that came Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade, which just patched together clips and in between Glen would have conversations with a talking lamp called Paladin. This programme was the inspiration for the Coatbridge-born comic tsar Mark Millar, now the head honcho in Europe of Netflix, although I don’t know if he talks to the light fittings.

Glen was actually called Cecil Buckland and was born in Devon but moved to Scotland. He lived in Maidens, in Ayrshire, and was often seen out and about in Prestwick. His wife, Beryl, died five years ago this month aged 93, which is Glen’s present age.

I don’t now where he is now but I hope he has Paladin for company.

Finding the $-spot

Navel gazing has moved a few degrees south. Yes, down there! At least for the idle rich and credulous woman. Gwyneth Paltrow, the real Cadbury of Hollywood flakes, has a new TV series which concentrates, not so much on the G-spot, but the more important $-spot. She has a company called Goop – which has consciously uncoupled from established cosmetic science, as she might put it – and you may have chanced upon one of its products, like the This Smells Like My Vagina candle which, at £57, makes you pray there won’t be blackouts this winter. Another is jade eggs, which apparently increases your sexual energy, but just gave me piles.

“It’s our favourite subject, vaginas,” quoth the beaming and highly-polished Paltrow in the one about sexual healing (Marvin Gaye notwithstanding). It features a 90-year-old sex therapist and her shill, who charges nigh on £1,000 a shot for a weekend course which involves saps taking off all their clothes and gazing at each other’s vulvas. I know this sounds like a plot that could never be produced but when I tell you it’s in California, it all makes sense.

After the private viewings, day two involves the insertion of a steel barbell (£107 online) and a Hitachi power tool – no Black & Decker thereabouts – the consequences of which I don’t want to begin to imagine. But just don’t try this at home.

The programme is called The Goop Lab. I watched it so you don’t have to.