Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jumping the shark

LAST YEAR it was a shark off the Cornwall coast that saw The Sun through the silly season; this year it’s little green men in flying saucers over Shropshire. Both stories, of course, are utter tosh. Still, anything is better than the diet of relentless misery being peddled by the other national newspapers.

As I’ve said before, yes, things are a bit tight at the moment, but that’s no reason to panic and start eating your pets. Indeed, no greater authority than the Joseph Rowntree Foundation declared this week that a single person needs no more than £13,400 a year to have an acceptable, if basic, standard of living. (That obviously doesn’t include such essentials as fags, wine and Johnny Cash CDs.)

What makes me slightly suspect of the Foundation’s figures is the further assertion that adding a wife and two children to that happy and carefree single man would mean that he’d only need another £13,400 to cope. Do they know the cost of trainers and Wiis, not to mention an extensive wardrobe for the wife? I think Mrs Beelzebub probably spent more than that on the damn garden this year. Every time she comes home from one of her garden centre raiding parties, it looks like she’s re-enacting The Day of the Triffids in the back of her car.

Anyway, let’s get to the point. It seems that the good, old-fashioned fish and chip shop is also having it hard after a wet start to the year damaged potato and mushy pea crops and pushed up prices. Cod, as we know, has been steadily going up in price for the past few years.

I now need to salvage a fiver from the wreckage of my wallet before I can head happily off for a dose of solid Northern protein (although I have yet to convince the Bubble and Squeak who runs the place to fry in beef dripping rather than oil). But it’s still a definite treat.

But even this simple pleasure is under threat after the Health Nazis in Gateshead decided that locals were putting too much salt on their fish and chips and decided that the best way to tackle the so-called problem was to re-design the classic chippy salt-shaker with just five holes instead of the standard 17. No, really. They then toured chip shops and takeaways “advising” proprietors to adopt the new “healthy” shakers – I suspect with a hint of menace conveyed by a finger wiped along the top of a door frame.

According to the perverse thinking of the busy-bodies, this cunning plan would cut salt consumption by up to 60 per cent while giving a “visually acceptable sprinkling” that would satisfy the customer. Of course, it didn’t work. As anyone with half a brain will know, you just shake and shake until you’re happy with the amount of salt on your chips. Some bon viveurs even unscrewed the top of the shaker to satisfy their cravings.

I think what annoys me most about this story isn’t the stupidity of the council involved, or the complete and utter waste of money (£2,000 since you ask, plus hours and hours of officers’ time). It’s the sheer arrogance of some committee somewhere deciding that salt consumption should have a “daily allowance”.

By all means tell me that I might be damaging my heart by eating too many bags of crisps. Thank you for the information. I will consider it carefully and then make a value judgement as to my future behaviour. But the minute you mention “allowances” or rationing or control, then I’m going to be face down in a sack of Saxa before you can say “blocked artery”.

If I die, I die – although the chances of fish and chips killing me before the fags, wine and Johnny Cash CDs get to me are remote, to say the least.

YOU MAY recall a recent column which mentioned Detective Sergeant Gurpal Virdi, who has brought three successful claims against his employers, the Metropolitan Police, and pocketed in excess of £300,000 in compo – with a fourth claim pending. It appears that he is not the only Asian policeman who has allegedly been discriminated against.

Next up is Commander Shabir Hussain, who is demanding “substantially more than £500,000” after claiming that he was unfairly denied promotion by Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair. And now Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur is considering his position after the National Black Police Association told him he had also been discriminated against. Expect a call to Victims ‘R’ Us any day now.

Now these are all very senior policemen, occupying posts to which most white coppers can only aspire. It seems strange then that so many would choose to bite the hand that has fed them. Consider this: if this trend continues, then the Met won’t be able to afford to pursue its unspoken policy of positive discrimination which gives black and Asian officers an advantage over their colleagues. There just won’t be enough money around to fund the compo budget. And I suppose that won’t be an altogether bad thing.

IT’S A strange thing, nationality – particularly in the melting pot that is modern Britain.

Take tennis player Andy Murray. On Wednesday morning, during the build-up to his quarter final tie with Spaniard Rafael Nadal, he was brave and British.

By supper time he’d gone back to being a gobby Scotch bottler. Ain’t life grand!


Blogger Seaman Staines said...

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3:20 AM  
Blogger Seaman Staines said...

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3:22 AM  
Blogger Seaman Staines said...

Sticking up for the great Scottish race Bazza? Not like you at all, must agree about the positive discrimination though, it would be intersting to see genuine figures regarding the amount of non-white police applicants and their sucess rates.

3:26 AM  
Blogger arescee said...

me too,
Glad to see you recognise what you have been putting Scots through for years bazza - I will, however, let you off with this if you promise to keep that wee turd Allan Hansen, and better still keep him off the goggle box!
And agree thoroughly with your thoughts on the turbanites.
Do they get free "Blue flashing turbans" when they join? I'm quite sure their religion will preclude them from wearing the usual hard hats, we don't seem to have too many of them up here yet, so pardon my ignorance, but do they also get special chequered Goonie or Sari uniforms yet?

3:35 AM  

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