Business schmoozing - austerity style.

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"Whit yis wantin'?"

The business tycoon raised a languid eye, brushed a minute fleck of dust from his gold cuff-linked wrist and gazed at the waiter with a mixture of anticipation and irritation. "I'm sorry?"

"Whit yis wantin'? Tae eat!"

"Is there a menu?"

"Naw. There's pies or there's bridies."

"Pies or...?"

"Bridies. An' nae ingin' anes either. Ower dear."

The mixture was now fairly full-on irritation. "But this is the CBI dinner! What happened to the Nonnettes de poulet Agn├Ęs Sorel we had last year?"

"It's aff. Pies or bridies."

"And the elegant vegetarian option?"

"Aff. We sold it tae Patrick Harvie for his weekend conference."

The tycoon shuffled nervously. "And to drink?"

"Bov-er-il." The waiter's lugubrious visage brightened briefly. "But it's bottomless! Jist haud up yer mug and shout for Jean!"

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The tycoon was a persistent chap. You don't build a empire without acquiring a reputation for dogged determination.

He gazed over at the top table. "But that chap's not eating a pie. Or a bridie! That looks suspiciously like fish and chips."

"Aye, but he's the Prime Minister. And he brought his ain fish supper. Smart guy, eh? We added the pickled egg. Plus bottomless Bov-er-il."

Welcome to business schmoozing, austerity style.

The CBI has been obliged to scale down its annual dinner on the grounds that the key speaker is scheduled to be the PM - and, at a wild guess, expected to be less than complimentary on the subject of independence.

The Electoral Commission decided that meant the gig was part of the pro-Union campaign - and thus liable to spending constraint.

Posh grub or political rhetoric. Either. Not both.

Still, soon be over. One way or another.

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