Any big company these days of tightened belts relies on its sales team to keep their heads above water. With a great sales team, they say, the sky's the limit. And get a sales team that can sell ice to the Eskimoes, then you're laughing. Laughing at Eskimoes, probably.
And, in my humble opinion, the the greatest sales team on the planet belings to the traffic division of technology company Siemens. They must employ people to drive around towns in Britain, searching out perfectly good road junctions that are as yet unfettered by traffic lights, before sending in their highly trained sales ninjas to the council offices to put a stop to this dreadful state of affairs.
This can be the only reason why my journey into work in Reading is regularly interrupted by a set of traffic lights at a previously traffic-light-free junction known locally as Poo Island (named because they built an entire housing estate and Hilton Hotel on top of the old sewage works, notorious for the town's 'Whitley Whiff'). As you roll to a halt, the only car on the main A33 trunk road at quarter to six in the morning, you realise that you are being told to stop by no less than nine red lights facing your direction. Then you roll up another five yards, and realise that another - tenth - unit is hidden at the back. And that's just in one direction.
Planning officer: "Are you absolutely sure that nine sets of traffic lights aren't overkill here?"
Salesman: "Now you come to mention it: THINK OF THE KIDDIEWINKS"
Planning officer: "Damn, you're abosolutely right. A small child could be crossing the road at six in the morning on their way to scavange at the rubbish tip. Better make that ten."
Meanwhile, in Fleet, the school lollipop lady (a middle aged lady of voluminous proportions I once witnessed the worse for wear for drink at the local comedy club) has been replaced by a set of four Siemens traffic lights, which is probably the minimum unit sale. Go fifty yards in either direction, there are two other traffic light controlled crossing points.
Salesman: "THINK OF THE KIDDIEWINKS"
Planning officer: "We'll take as many as you've got"
All the better for getting the kiddiewinks safely into the EXCELLENT gun shop that's just opened opposite the school.