steve rowe marks & spencer

As a child, your Pat employed a patented method of working out whether or not I was telling the truth. I used to check the things I said off against things that had actually happened - it wasn’t perfect, but it served me well and prevented a great many conflagrations in my undies.

It all feels just a little quaint now in these days of Fox News and the Daily Mail (65p, or frankly please just come and take it away). But even so, I can’t help thinking it could still serve as a useful benchmark. For example, it might have made Mr Clarke Mk III look a little less like a wooden puppet with an extended proboscis when he said that a 3% fall in like-for-like sales was clear evidence of a turnaround at Asda. Even a very simple child or business journalist could see that that is just a porky pie (£2, may contain pork).

Unfortunately it seems to be catching. I saw that Mr Rowe from Marks & Sparks on the telly this morning and I could have sworn he said that a drop of two-thirds in his profits showed his plan was on track. Well it’s a very silly plan then, Mr Rowe!

At Pat’s Mart, we have a strict policy of always telling the truth, except in minor areas of detail such as pricing, provenance and product life, which only serve to confuse the customer.

It doesn’t always work, though. I did feel a little sorry for Tesco when they quite by accident pointed out that a collapse in the value of the pound might have a distant bearing on imported food prices.

While that ought to make sense to even the most dull-witted Brexiter, it just won’t do to mention it - they get very upset and often start to dribble quite menacingly.