23 DECEMBER 1972, Page 34


A date with ICL

Nephew Wilde

Chin-wags between two bachelors can sooner or later be expected to lead, to the same thing. And so it was with Wotherspool late last Saturday night that the conversation turned to unmentionable topics.

Wotherspool, a portly stockbroker — the absolute in female delight — rich, ugly, well-connected; his course in life set on a predestined path of progression following his grandfather (a clerk), his father. (a blue button), in the ranks of the City establishment (he is a stockbroker). Yet his achievement where less ruthless matters than money are concerned leaves something to be desired.

"What is it?" he almost pleadingly asked, "my personality? My charm? Why can't I find the girl of my dreams? Even Cynthia, my senior partner's daughter, shunned my proposals of a merger."

"I saw that film 2001," he continued, "lovely Strauss theme music and all that but there was this frightening story of a computer called Hal taking charge of pro ceedings in outer space Well you see I saw this ad some months ago — 'Darling, do you love living? So-and-so Computer Dating loves to liven you up.' I, of course, couldn't resist; filled in this form giving my background (public school, etc). But would you believe it. . . ."

Here I am afraid Wotherspool began to forget his upbringing. And I gather there was some conflict about what the computer and Wotherspool thought was a compatible date. However, to change the subject, I grasped the immediate topic at hand.

" Strange that computers should interfere with our lives, isn't it, Wotherspool? By the way, how's International Computers doing."

"Funny you mention that," rejoined Wotherspool in better spirits now we were back to talking money, "I remember how the City pundits were professing that ICL was due for the knacker's yard just a few years back. Times change and certainly ICL has changed itself beyond all recognition."

"But who on earth buys shares in high technology, Wotherspool?"

His blunt — if evasive — answer was: "We need computers whether we like them or not; sooner or later you'll have one yourself to organise your life for you."

I frankly doubted this but I do fancy adding ICL to my portfolio. And one thing that draws me to the group is its excellent recovery potential. It has survived where others have gone out of business and with a larger market to cope with, looks well placed.

I hope I am feeding the right situation into my portfolio which is now showing encouraging signs of growth. Toye leaves the lists to make way for ICL.