Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3557 Set by John O'Byrne

You were asked for business euphemisms for 1999.

Report by Ms de Meaner

It's true: we British were born to speak in euphemisms. However, I junked a lot of entries on subjects like restructuring, downsizing, productivity gains, flexible working, globalisation and so on. Most of them we understand only too well - you're sacked, you will work longer hours and for less money. I also binned "Capital mobility: our accountant did a runner" from D A Prince, which although tres amusant, somehow felt more than mere euphemism. The winners get £12 each, Nick MacKinnon, R J Pickles, Peter Lyon, M E Ault and Jerry Ring get hon menshes (for "Millennium-compliant: rogue computers will be disabled by the caretaker with a spanner"; "Our chairman has extensive business experience, exceptional administrative skills, with a track record of innovative business development: a crook"; "Please do not hesitate to contact us: mercifully our numbers are permanently engaged"; "Excellent package of operative benefits: we have a canteen"; "Customer Call Centre: you don't get shunted from Billie to Jack any more - now one person is authorised not to answer your query"), and the bottle goes to Ian Birchall. Plus: everyone gets a copy of Graceful as a Duck on Roller-skates by John O'Byrne (Leopold Books). A happy Christmas to you all.

Valued customer: you once bought something from us

Market penetration: shafting the customer

Outsourcing: I know a man who knows a man . . .

Flexible working practices: you will obey!

Basil Ransome-Davies

Alternative incentive arrangements: we say "thank you" occasionally

Market repositioning exercise: desperately looking for customers

Personal employment contract: your terms are worse than anyone else's

Customer communications review: what new lies can we tell?

Customer interface review: and who should tell them?

Stephen Bibby

We are proud of our strong corporate structure: there is a Masonic lodge in the building

Corporate entertainment: meet my niece

Conservatively estimated: the biggest figure we can get away with

Nick Butler

I'll just put you on hold: Goodbye . . . and I hope you like Vivaldi

Negative Feng Shui: the office is a tip

Open plan: the office is a tip

The senior management team: the men

Senior management material: new male employee

Positive leadership style: fascist bastard

David Silverman

Flotation plans: we are expecting a new order soon

Go for broke: broke

Trust fund: the executors can't be trusted

Disaggregation: we can't find it anywhere

Executive summary: we'd rather you didn't read the rest

Mutual: none of your business

Will Bellenger

Business opportunity: this is a scam

Unique business opportunity: you've never seen a scam like this before

Never to be repeated business opportunity: we'll never get away with this one again

We apologise for the delay in dealing with this matter, but there are complicated issues involved: we've lost the papers

We are sorry there has been such a delay in the settlement of this affair, but the papers are currently being studied by our solicitors: they've lost the papers

Geoff Horton

Dynamic management style: snorts a lot of cocaine

A rapidly increasing market: there's one born every minute

Genuine concern for the environment: managers live a long way from the factory

Hands-off proprietor: he's in jail

Ian Birchall

No 3560 Set by Margaret Rogers

Instead of the eight new classes thought up by the Office for National Statistics, David Cannadine has suggested that "for many people their sense of social identity is much more determined by how they spend their money". Can we have eight new classes along these lines by 7 January.

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This article first appeared in the 18 December 1998 issue of the New Statesman, A time for unadulterated tradition