Puppy love

Saint Homobonus
10 February 2015

Good news from the spiritual home of consumerism, the US, as a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics reveals that the average person giving Valentine’s gifts will spend $142.31 (£94.40) on chocolates, jewellery, flowers and more, up from $133.91 (£88.84) last year.

But more unexpectedly, Valentine’s Day romantics are also projected to spend a total of $703 million (£466 million) on gifts for their pets.

Furry, scaly and feathered friends are in luck, as the NRF said one in five consumers said their pet was the object of their affection and spending.

The NRF said pet lovers plan to spend an average $5.28 (£3.50) on Valentine’s gifts.

“It’s great to see consumers coming out of their shell this year, looking to spend discretionary budgets on those they love once again,” said Pam Goodfellow, Prosper’s principal analyst.

Personally, I think they are barking mad.

24-year sickie

The Indian government has finally dismissed a civil servant who went on sick leave in 1990 and never came back to work.

An inquiry was set up in 1992, but formal proceedings to dismiss him were not begun until 2007. Even then, it took seven more years for the department to reach the decision.

It is not clear whether he was paid during his time off.

India’s bureaucracy has become well-known for high levels of absenteeism. Last August, a state school in Madhya Pradesh fired a teacher who had been absent for 23 years of her 24-year career.


A rug has been removed from a sheriff’s office in Florida after someone noticed it read: “In dog we trust” instead of “In God we trust”.

The $500 (£329) mat lay at the entrance to the office in Pinellas County for two months before anyone realised the mistake, a spokeswoman said.

The error was made by the rug’s manufacturer and although it is being replaced, there have been several offers to buy it.

“In God we trust” is the official motto of Florida and the national motto of the US.

Dismayed in Taiwan

A UK government minister has apologised for giving a watch to the mayor of Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei, without realising such gifts are taboo.

Susan Kramer said she did not know giving clocks suggests time is running out for the person who receives it in Chinese culture. This is due to a similarity between the phrases ‘giving a clock’ and ‘attending an old person’s funeral’.

The recipient, Ko Wen-je, has himself been criticised for joking that he did not need it and he might sell it to a scrap metal dealer.

“We learn something new every day,” transport minister Baroness Kramer said in a statement.

Party pooper

Unpaid invoices have been making plenty of headlines recently, but the story that has caused the most outrage did not centre on a naughty multinational but a five-year-old schoolboy from Devon.

The parents of Alex Nash found a brown envelope inside their son’s school bag, inside which was a professional-looking invoice demanding payment of £15.95 for his failure to attend a friend’s birthday party held at a dry ski slope.

Alex’s mother, Tanya Walsh, said she had no way of contacting Julie Lawrence, who issued the invoice, to let her know Alex could not attend the event. Lawrence disputes this, has refused to back down and is threatening to take the family to the small claims court to recover the money owed.

As one tweeter mischievously pointed out: “The woman is deluded if she thinks any invoice will get paid in January”.

Passion killer

Are you a motivated, creative and enthusiastic individual who is passionate about your chosen career, with a track record of success?

If so, you might need to revise how you describe yourself on your CV, as these five terms are the most overused on resumés, according to LinkedIn. These were followed by ‘driven’, ‘extensive experience’, ‘wide range’, ‘responsible’ and ‘strategic’, terms the social network says have lost their meaning because they are so common.

“It’s never been more challenging to stand out from the crowd. Show individuality by including charity work and interests,” advised LinkedIn’s Darain Faraz

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