Glitter bombs, nativity bottoms and second referendum backers

Planet Business: Out of the ‘swamp’, into the bleak midwinter

Image of the week: Nativity interlopers

"All I want for Christmas is a clay figure of Vladimir Putin with his arse hanging out" is not quite the lyric Mariah Carey went for, but nevertheless one is for sale at the Santa Llúcia Christmas market in Barcelona, Spain, should anyone fancy it.

These are clay "caganers", in this case representing the iconic foursome of French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel, British prime minister Theresa May and the aforementioned Russian president, though they're not the only ones flaunting their bottoms.

In Catalonia, "caganers" symbolise defecation, or to put it in grander terms, the fertilisation of the earth – the tradition is that clay figures on the verge of a good s*** are hidden in nativity scenes for children to find them, or just for general larks. Behold, the true spirit of Christmas.

In numbers: Designer spice

£10.2 million Operating losses at Victoria Beckham's luxury fashion label have risen to this amount (€11.3 million).


17 Percentage rise in revenues last year for the ex-Spice Girl's line, however, with losses attributed to investment in the business and a building of its talent base.

£42.5 million With sales hitting this level (€47.2 million), it doesn't look like Beckham will need to spice up her life on her former band's reunion tour anytime soon.

The lexicon: Going plural

Keith Weed, the chief marketing officer of consumer goods giant Unilever, is stepping down from the role after nine years, but he's not retiring, he told Campaign magazine, he's "going plural" – in other words, he's not looking for another full-time gig, but rather a smattering of non-executive director roles to keep him occupied.

The term was coined by Allen Leighton, who, on leaving the chief executive job at supermarket Asda in 2000, declared he was "going plural", taking on almost a dozen directorships. Pluralism, aka freelancing for top executives, now seems to be back in fashion, as more businesspeople try to manage the cliff-edge between a big gig and retirement. Weed, incidentally, made headlines earlier this year for saying online advertising platforms like Facebook and Google were sometimes "little better than a swamp" – a rare example of a Weed attacking a swamp.

Getting to know: Mark Rober

Mark Rober is a glitter bomb vigilante/hero. Mess with him at your peril. The American, a former Nasa engineer who runs a YouTube channel, was frustrated after a delivery parcel was stolen from his doorstop and set out to avenge all such "porch piracy" by engineering a package that would shower a future thief with glitter when it was opened.

That would have been simple enough, requiring little more than a spring, but Rober also wanted to be able to film the incident as it unfolded, so he spent six months developing a package that would not only spew 1lb of glitter but somehow activate motion-sensors, a GPS tracker and the combined wide-angle cameras of four mobile phones. There were sketches. There was testing. Now the resulting YouTube video, Package Thief vs Glitter Bomb Trap, has had 25 million views. “The moral of the story is, just don’t take other people’s stuff,” he says.

The list: Second referendum backers

Calls for a second Brexit referendum began almost as soon as the “leave” vote took that fateful 52 per cent in June 2016, but of late the roll call of backers has been growing.

1. Tony Blair: "Literally why are we doing it?" is the former British prime minister's take on what will be either a pointless or a painful Brexit.

2. Bloomberg editorial board: "With parliament deadlocked and the government adrift, only a new referendum can legitimise this choice," it has concluded.

3. Medical MPs: Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston and three other MPs with medical backgrounds put forward a "doctors' amendment" in November pushing for a second vote, with Wollaston comparing it to patients' giving informed consent for surgery.

4. Liberal Democrats: The pro-EU party called for a second referendum back in 2017, even making it a policy pledge in its general election campaign.

5. Jo Johnson and Justine Greening: The former ministers in Theresa May's various cabinets are the most high-profile Conservatives to support another vote.