The Luncher has chosen his 12 favourite blags of the year, listed below. It's also been a good year for trips abroad, football games and visits to swanky hotels and restaurants, but it is the object d'art the Luncher takes home with him that he values most highly. So, here are the top 12 blags, and remember, the Luncher will be on the look out for the best blags of 1998.
1. Berkeley PR: Electronic 'hands-free' stapler (see-through, colourful and even has a circuit board)
2. Microsoft: BackOffice laptop bag, mouse mat (used for a month by the Luncher, complete with dirt from London Underground)
3. Quixell: Inflatable hammer (squeaks a little)
4. NetManage: Fujitsu Fun Pack (squeaks, looks cute, annoys the hell out of everyone)
5. Kensington: Mouse In A Box (a mouse, in a box)
6. Imation: Two SuperDisk drives (great pressie material)
7. Hewlett-Packard: T-Shirt printing kit (kept the kids quiet)
8. Microsoft: Mini Swiss Army penknife (nice cheap tat, but no scissors)
9. Hewlett-Packard: HP-branded flower pots (inc. cyclamens - long since deceased)
10. Iomega: Branded leather briefcase, laptop bag, denim shirt and cap (decent quality)
11. MSN: Rugby shirt, clear plastic A4 ring binder (nice black and white top, shame about the logo)
12. Fujitsu: Ergonomic keyboard (got rid of it at last!)
The Luncher's best Christmas parties
Still in the festive mood, the Luncher decided to award a bottle of champagne to the organiser of the best Christmas party. So, Daniel Bauser, the man behind ICL's excellent bash at Hamley's basement arcade, take a bow and a bottle of ZDNet bubbly, and Happy New Year to you and all the Luncher's readers.
Finding a winner was a tough decision. Here's the Luncher's trawl through the parties the runners up threw this Christmas.
It's crackers. Silly hats, cheap plastic toys and jokes that don't make sense. It must be Christmas, growled the Luncher. Hitachi's dinner at Dover Street Wine Bar was one of the first Christmas bashes. Hungry hacks chased down their Christmas roasts with glasses of wine, but this writer was wronged by a Hitachi exec who knocked his drink into the Luncher's lap. Bah. This suit has to last 20 more parties before it goes back to the shop, he complained.
Epson's dinner was at Conran's Quaglino's, off Piccadilly, full of squawking city slickers. The printer-meisters had the foresight to hire a private room up above the plebs, with an open fire, champagne, and sit down meal. The conversation turned to hunks of the hack world - apparently a PR firm had put together a Christmas card with twelve of their favourite male journos plastered across it. Thankfully, the Luncher's lunchbox won't be featuring in it, joked Epson's PR.
Hewlett-Packard had its party at Haymarket's Football Football. Now you're talking. However, the Luncher's bearded face fell when he learnt that guests were rationed to three free drinks each. To top it all, he lost the draw for tickets to France for Euro 98, to his arch rival, PC Week's Mole. He doesn't even like football for goodness sake, grumbled the Luncher.
Next up the same night was Oracle's party at the Zebra Bar in Soho. Suited Oracle execs got drunk and silly, boogying down to seventies sounds. As one of the Oracle suits fooled about, snapping his red braces on the dance floor, the Luncher got showered in lager. This suit's seen better days, he said, heading for the door.
The ICL do in Hamley's arcade basement was the best party of the season. However, the Luncher propped up the bar, watching the kids having fun on the skiing and jetski simulators. Car games, flight sims and futuristic beat-em-ups, that's what the young pup journalists seem to dig these days. Give me Pac Man any day.
The grapevine had a tale to tell about Michael Dell. At Comdex, the dude went to AMD's booth to meet Jerry Sanders. The story goes as they walked away from each other they were both heard to say "I'm not going to do a deal with that guy."
Compaq's party in a tiny bar in Piccadilly, on a bitterly cold snowy night in London. The computer numero uno had planned for 30 hacks, so they got a bit of a shock when 80 turned up to drink into their profits. "I never knew we had so may friends," said one of them. The Luncher just smiled wryly and raised his pint of Guinness.