IE Audio 21 : The Meal Deal

“We live in a Faustian, Brechtian, Kafkaesque garden of insanity. And I kinda like it…” Recorded to an audience of nil at Cottage Donnington (thank you, Sally) after a regrettably inexpensive bottle of Tesco’s finest. You get what you pay for: this audio is free.

Idle Eye 182 : The Meal Deal

When it comes to the trauma of lunchtime, I tend to accelerate the process by making it as unappealing as is humanly possible; particularly when working on site. My colleagues usually bring in something home-made, flaunting its worth from inside a little tupperware container with clip-down sides, accompanied by a lengthy dialogue about ingredients, how long it took to make and what was eaten the night before (apparently the journey is the thing, not the destination). However, cookery gives me the fear. So, instead of preparing something nutritious and delicious from the comfort of my barren kitchen – which also gives me the fear – I choose to take the heat off by allowing someone else to do it for me. This is not without its own inherent set of problems.

Tesco Express on the Pentonville Road is a culinary deadzone. The Meal Deal section is frequented, 24/7, by anyone that life has frowned upon – the unloved, the depressed, the haters, the hated and those, like me, who just want to get it over with. Our purchases are edible sackcloth and ashes with which we punish ourselves on a daily basis, so checking out becomes one of Danté’s inner rings of Hell. For there at the tills, they will judge us; for our lamentable taste in processed cheese, for our weak grins as they ask what we have planned for the weekend, for not taking a Tell Me How I’m Doing card with which we can rate their quality of service online, and for not knowing that a Twix and a Fanta do not constitute part of our five-a-day.

‘Rickin’ (4/5 stars) wants me to fill one of those eco-unfriendly 5p bags with my quarry; he wants to tell me what a lovely day it is when outside, Hurricane Desdemona is whipping toupees into the street; he wants me to enjoy my meal when I want anything but (if I genuinely wanted to enjoy a meal, there is a strong possibility I would not be buying it from Rickin in the first place). This doesn’t deter him: if I could just sign up for the Club scheme right now (in front of a queue of people, aching for release), I’d be eligible for astonishing discounts on stuff I don’t yet know I want. And I’d be in for a further 10% off the impossibly cheap swill I already have in my basket when all I want is for it to be reassuringly overpriced, so I have something to bitch about to my workmates when the whole sorry shebang is at an end.

Today’s sandwich had a yellow sticker on it: it was 20p cheaper because it was out of date. Curiously, this meant that it no longer counted as a Meal Deal and consequently I paid an extra 70p for the entire shooting match. We live in a Faustian, Brechtian, Kafkaesque garden of insanity. And I kinda like it.

Idle Eye 14 : The Bagging Area

Let’s talk cheese. Why the hell not? It’s a staple. Good, honest fare made by farmers and Blur and consumed in quantity by the French, West Country types and yours truly. Soft on the palate and hard on arteries, this formidable foodstuff has done the rounds for centuries and is showing no signs of letting up any time soon. So it came as no small surprise to learn that sleb chef Anthony Worrall Thompson has sullied the reputation of our dairy doyen by popping into Tesco in Henley-on-Thames and nicking it. For Heaven’s sake man, get a grip! Now, clearly Tony feels the same about the Empire of Evil as I do but really, cheese and discounted coleslaw? My heart actually bleeds for the guy so I thought I’d use my Bro-given platform to offer him a little assistance for the future:

  • First rule of shoplifting: Always shoot above your status. There’s very little point in doing time for sandwich fillings, no matter how much quality bubbly you wash them down with.
  • Second rule of shoplifting: Never admit culpability. Ever. Even if they find you with a boot full of hooky lager and an empty petrol tank, you hold your head up high and come on all Penelope Keith. It’s the British way. None of this ‘Oooh sorry, I’m a klepto, I’ll make amends’ crap, it’s balls out, chest in or bust. Either that or think very hard about the products you have stolen and seek culinary advice. From a celebrity chef, perhaps?

Speaking of cheeses, Nibs brought over a selection from the Idle Hour last week. You know the sort of thing, a NASA-funded one that removes the roof of your mouth, another so creamy it should be ‘R’ rated, some blue, some borrowed etc.. And, it must be said, they were outstanding. All of them. In case you’re wondering, yes, the Alex James one made an appearance, woo hoo! It’s called ‘Blue Monday’ for all you Eighties throwbacks out there, it’s made in Kingham, Oxfordshire and apparently it’s eye-wateringly expensive. Of course it is: The man drank a million quids worth of champagne in three years, he’s got to claw it back somehow.

Hang about, I’ve just come up with a solution. No win, no fee, and it works like this: Tony, you load up the Bentley with the three crates of champers you actually paid for and head over to Alex’s in Kingham (it’s not far from your manor, I checked on Google Maps). In exchange for these, Alex will donate as much Blue Monday as he can squeeze into the boot and/or passenger footwells because he laaavs abitavit! (BTW first check whether he’ll bung in a bit of cheap slaw on the side). Then, when you’ve sorted your respective addictions, head on over to the Idle Hour for a conciliatory slap-up where Nibs will show you both how it’s done proper.

Honestly, I blame the parents.