x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Frank Kane’s Notebook: I may be a banana in any language but my Christmas gifts are sorted

Our columnist Frank Kane is all a-Twitter about a certain social media company's soaraway market valuation, but he has solved his Christmas present, and is determined not to be outshone by his five-year-old daughter in learning Arabic.

The last time I wrote about Twitter in this column I ended with the words: “If Twitter is worth US10 billion, I’m a banana”.

That was before its initial public offering in New York, and I have to admit to feeling mighty yellow at the moment.

The markets now mark Twitter at some $32bn, an awesome valuation for a company that looks vulnerable to any sudden change in social media fashion.

I’m not the only one to believe Twitter’s valuation is totally undeserved, and could be dangerous for global stock markets. It takes only one prick to burst a bubble, and Twitter could be that one.

Who says so? My old pal Paul Murphy of the Financial Times has as good a track record as anybody in predicting market turning points, having lived through many of them.

Under the heading “This is nuts. When’s the crash?”, he writes in his Alphaville column this week: “Have we seen the top? Who knows? But suddenly Twitter is valued at just 48 times 2013 sales.”

The point is well made. After global equities soared away this year, we must be in serious risk of some kind of correction ahead. Whether it will be a crash or not remains to be seen.

Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, but with talk of nuts and bananas it looks as though somebody is monkeying around with America’s markets.

As the gift-giving season approaches, I am grateful to those considerate people at the PR firm Edelman for an inspired idea, via their client Dyson.

An email reminds me: “Dyson machines are about more than vacuum cleaners. Bladeless fans and heaters, hand dryers that actually dry hands and cordless vacuum cleaners that perform like corded ones” are what Dyson is all about now.

A “few gift ideas” include the DC34 Handheld, the DC44 Animal (“forget conventional vacuum cleaning”), and the AM05 (“heating and cooling in one fan”).

Dyson has come to my rescue just in the nick of time. I was in the throes of the perennial seasonal torment – what to get for Mrs Kane? Now that problem is solved in a trice.

I think she’ll be overjoyed to find the Handheld nicely wrapped beneath the tree. And I’m convinced she will agree with me that it’s so much more practical than gold or diamonds.

It’s the time of year when thoughts of New Year’s resolutions begin to swirl.

This year I’ve decided to give up giving up. There’s no point in trying to dramatically change the habits of a lifetime, even if the medical profession says they are bad for me, so I’m not going to be abstaining from anything in 2014.

Instead, I’m going to do something positive. I occasionally get twangs of guilt that over the past seven years of living in the UAE I’ve never seriously applied myself to learning any Arabic.

I made several attempts when I first arrived, but like many in the full flush of new expat status, found I just didn’t have the staying power.

Shame on me, compounded by the fact that my five-year old daughter, who takes Arabic lessons at school, has more command of the language than me. But then she is also fluent in English and Russian, so maybe she just has a natural aptitude.

My conscience was roused again on learning that today, December 18, is World Arabic Language Day, which aims to “raise awareness of the social and cultural treasures of the Arabic language”.

So this time, my mind is made up: 2014 will be the year of Arabic for me. I will keep readers updated on progress.