Cabbages, Wiggles and Whistles

Cabbages, Wiggles and Whistles

Traveling on the London tube this evening, three teenagers were discussing cooking. As it turned out, one of them was rather a keen chef;

Person 1(strong London accent): “Picture the situation, right? You’ve got a cabbage, and a pound. And with the pound, you’ve got to make a delicious meal to go with the cabbage. What would you do?”

Person 2; “I’d draw a sad face on the cabbage.”

Person 3; “Yeah. I ‘d buy a pen. And then draw a sad face on the cabbage”


Television chef James Martin hosts the wonderful Saturday Kitchen. One of his most recent guests was cullinary legend Ken Hom. Taking phone calls live on air, the Chinese wokmeister was asked;

“Ken, I’m cooking a Chinese this Saturday for my friends. The problem is, I don’t know what to cook for dessert. What can you suggest”

Ken gave a semi-apologetic smile;

“You’ve got me there. We don’t really do desserts. I suggest you do some nice sliced fruit”.

My ballpoint almost skidded off my cabbage. The Chinese don’t really DO desserts?! 1.3 BILLION sticky toffee pudding AREN’T being sold? America’s fastest growing export market ISN’T hooked on Jell-o (slogan, “Every Diet Needs A Little Wiggle Room…)? If pastry chef James had spotted the knickerbockerglory of an opportunity, he wasn’t showing it. Personally, I think he was dreaming of millions and millions of cherry pies.


An almost certainly apocryphal tale tells of two Western entrepreneurs who arrived, at different times, to sell shoes to an African village. The first was greeted with a blank expression and the words;

“Sorry sir. You’re in the wrong place. Nobody wears shoes in this part of Africa. They never have done”.

Dejected, the visitor slank away. The second man arrived two weeks later and was treated almost exactly the same;

“Sorry sir. I think you’re in the wrong place. Nobody wears shoes in this part of Africa, and they never have done.”

The second man’s eyes lit up.

“In that case, I think I’ll find that I’m in exactly the RIGHT place.”


Smart new Beatbox Shoes were one of the very first ideas put forward when we launched Idea Volcano, the site for spare ideas. The creative spark behind the scheme was one of Chris Evan’s team on BBC Radio Two, and the vigorous reaction to the brainwave led the ginger broadcaster to praise the newly launched site to the rafters. Since then, one reader’s Chinese Oil Paintings idea, (in which he imagines a service where you could send in a photo and, several weeks later, a massive oil painting would arrive from China) has taken on a life of its own, with one of the latest commenters purporting to be an entrepreneurial Chinese individual offering help in collaboration. I smell James Martin’s Jell-o covered hand at work.


International collaborations are the theme of a short speech I’m giving tomorrow night at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The occasion is a reception in honour of Global Entrepreneurship Week and I’ll be speaking about one of the signature activities of that week (this November); Speednetwork the Globe. The audience will include Ambassadors from over 30 countries and I’ve decided to give them a real taste of Speed Networking, complete with whistle and stopwatch. For some, speed networking can be a bit of a shock to the system. As business editor Martin Vander Weyer confesses in this week’s Spectator, his experience at my most recent event left him needing a lie down afterwards. Somehow though, I think that tomorrow’s assembled Ambassadors will take to the task like ducks to water.


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