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City diary
Thursday November 14, 2002

  • Achtung! German chancellor Gerhard Schröder may be trying to pretend satirical pop tune Der Steuersong ("Tax Song") doesn't exist but we've got hold of the lyrics. Officially, Herr Schredder has been too busy not dyeing his hair to hear it but several million Germans have and that's what counts. The song features Schröder mimic Emar Brandt singing about how the chancellor has conned German voters with recent tax rises. "Promises that were made yesterday can be broken today," it starts. "I'll raise your taxes, I'll empty your pockets, every one of you prats stashes some cash away, but I'll find it no matter where it is." He continues: "I'll raise taxes because the election is over and you can't fire me now." There's more: "I want your bank notes, your sweaters, your cash and your piggy banks. Dog tax, tobacco tax, car tax, green tax... like a pirate hunting for treasure, I'll raise all your taxes and if you're broke, you can buy your food at a discount store or go hungry." The video is even worse, we're told.

  • Phones are the new fags, according to Vodafone COO Julian Hornsmith. Reporters were told at the mobile company's results conference on Tuesday that teenagers would rather spend their cash on top-up cards than cigarettes. "We'll have to put radio masts behind the bike sheds soon," Hornsmith quipped - although the truth is he'll probably have to keep disguising them as trees or petrol station signs to save protesters from cutting into his £4.6bn operating profit.

  • Reader Bill Hall was delighted when a cheque from Ireland arrived for a copy of his book Using a Computer for the First Time. He was amazed several days later when the 23 euros cheque was returned with a letter saying the bank was unable to process it because the charge for doing so was more than its value. "There is a £15 processing charge on any cheque in a foreign currency under £100," a spokeswoman for NatWest told us (23 euros equates to £14). Good to see the banking system is all keyed up for entering Europe.

  • If there was one word you'd think the FT would know how to spell, it would have to be "economic". In fact, in yesterday's 315-word front-page story "Germany faces double-dip recession", there were no less than three of them (plus four "economy"s and two "economist"s). How one of them turned into "econmomic" is anyone's guess, although if ex-news editor Will Lewis wasn't currently pruning his petunias before heading to the Sunday Times, this monetary mutation may never have happened. The typo's still up on the website too.

  • Easy Group's case against looks even more in doubt today following extensive press coverage. Easyart's chief executive Steve Matthews certainly seems to think so - he took the opportunity yesterday of registering It points to the Easyart front page, although we suspect there are more imaginative plans afoot.

Link to copy on Guardian

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