On the afternoon of March 11th 1991 I telephoned a company called Analytical Instruments, of Pampisford, Cambridge, trying to sell them advertising space.
The receptionist answered "Hello. AI."
Ever since I had heard a farmworker in the 1970s refer to artificial insemination as "AI" that connotation for those letters had remained with me.
Later that afternoon I visited Riccardo’s coffee shop in London’s Goodge Street and whilst I was there their radio broadcast a news item about a growing furore over plans to have several virgins made artificially pregnant.
I laughed at the mention of this controversy, and, for some reason, mentioned to all of the people in the shop/café that earlier I had telephoned a company called AI, and explained what I had always taken those initials to stand for.
At this a man, whom I had never met, said "That must have been Analytical Instruments, right?"
I said that indeed it was and asked how he had heard of them.
He explained that he had a friend who supplied equipment to hospitals and that there were only about three companies that made the specialist type of instruments that he dealt with.
The only one in the U.K. was Analytical Instruments.
The gentleman said that he himself was an employee of AMY hardware store in Goodge Street.
I heard people in the coffee shop address him as "Cook".