Five Lessons Learnt This Week

Five Lessons Learnt is our weekly round-up of all the strange, off-beat and funny news of the week. Perfect for a bit of Friday afternoon entertainment and a light-hearted look at what’s been going on away from the charts!

This week in Five Lessons Learnt: The Great British Biscuit Drought, National Sickie Day, cheese bonds, the worst business decision ever and the strange things people leave behind in taxis…

1. The Great British Biscuit Drought

biscuitDon’t be alarmed, biscuit lovers, but prepare yourselves for some bad news: the UK is facing an unprecedented biscuit drought. Many of Britain’s best-loved biscuits are mysteriously absent from supermarket shelves after floods forced the United Biscuits factory in Carlisle to close back in December.

The Carlisle floods resulted in shortage of biscuits by McVities’s, Jacob’s, Carr’s and Crawford’s – so if you’ve been struggling to get your fix of ginger nuts or custard creams, now you know why.

And it seems the biscuit drought is not expected to come to an end any time soon, with the United Biscuits factory assuring disgruntled biscuit fans that they’re working as hard as they can to resume normal service, but admitting that the biscuit drought is likely to last several months.

Hang on in there, guys…

2. #NationalSickieDay

workIf you went to work on Monday, you’ve missed your chance to take advantage of the most notorious sick day of the year. The first Monday in February is the worst day of the year for non-attendance, “sickies” and failing to show up for interviews.

A study showed that 69% of workers would be tempted to take Monday 1st February off work, citing reasons from feeling overworked and stressed to simply needing a lie in. But some workers put a bit more imagination into their excuses, coming up with these five genius reasons for their absence:

  • “I’ve accidentally locked myself in the bathroom and I’m having to wait until someone with a key to the house can come round to let me out.”
  • “I’ve accidentally sent my uniform to the charity shop, so I need to go and buy it back.”
  • “My plastic surgery went wrong and I need to go and get it fixed.”
  • “I thought it was a bank holiday today and I’m 500 miles away.”
  • “I missed my stop on the train this morning and can’t get off the train now until London.” (a worker from Glasgow). 

Genius. Now we know what became of that kid in our maths class whose dog always ate his homework…

3. It’s cheesy funding a business

CheeseItalian cheese-maker 4 Madonne came up with an unusual way to secure funding after three years of recession choked bank lending. More than 95 per cent of Italian companies have fewer than 10 employees and rely on bank loans for financing, but the economic climate has made it increasingly difficult for small businesses to get funding.

So the cheese-maker decided to sell bonds backed by parmesan cheese – and they’ve raked in €6 million in mini-bonds guaranteed by wheels of their cheese. The company are planning to use the funds to improve its facilities and promote their cheese in northern Italy.

4 Madonne’s bonds will pay a fixed yield of 5 percent each year until the bonds mature in January 2022.

P.S. – aren’t you grate-ful we held back on the cheese puns? 

4. It could be worse…

By [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
If you’ve had a less-than-successful trading week, just be glad you’re not Chris Hill-Scott. The 29-year-old set up app Swiftkey with his uni friends Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, but after just a matter of weeks decided to leave the company.
Frustrated with the long working hours and financial insecurity of being a director, Chris left to start a career in photography, later becoming a civil servant. He accepted a bike as payment for his stake in the company.

Which maybe wasn’t a wise move – Reynolds and Medlock have just sold the app to Microsoft for £174 million in one of the most lucrative tech acquistions in recent years. The two Cambridge grads each made £25 million in the sale.

Oh well, money isn’t everything. And we’re sure his old mates will buy him a pint…

5. Please make sure you have all your personal belongings with you

taxiA poll of London cabbies revealed the weirdest things customers leave behind in taxis, as well as the plethora of mobile phones, keys, umbrellas and wallets. Among the strangest items of lost property reported were a live parrot, a taxidermy fox and £5,000 in a clear plastic bag.

Also on the list of bizarre missing items were a mini cheese grater, a gold tooth, an inflatable zimmer frame (we don’t want to know), a helium tank and a whoopee cushion (possibly left behind to embarrass unsuspecting future customers?).

So the moral of that story is – always check you’ve got everything with you. Because nobody wants to spend a Sunday morning calling taxi firms in a effort to retrieve their pet parrot or gold tooth.

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