This week, it’s the contentious subject of foodstuffs. Practical solution to the endemic crime of celebrity chefs also included at no extra cost, along with convincing dystopian alternative for those who prefer their lunch to take three minutes and come from a pot.
A little while back, I wrote a short piece about food on another blog platform when I was attempting to find my voice. It was deliberately confrontational and probably a touch derivative, the main thrust being that food is, in essence, merely petrol to keep us all alive in order to do far greater things than the act of eating itself. This would have been apposite if written in the 1970s (or indeed earlier), when the greater irony may well have been appreciated by frequenters of those appalling trattorias, nascent curry houses and stick-in-the-mud bastions of public school cuisine. But it wasn’t.
Over the last twenty years or so, we have morphed into a nation of foodies. Suddenly, every man and his dog has developed a palate that subtle, it would leave Abigail and her guests floundering like jetsam at one of her soirées. We demand choice and quality as standard (despite having come through the worst recession since WW2) and, more than ever, we require affirmation that our opinions are justified. Why so?
Because our newly-found appreciation of all things gastronomic is nothing more than the emperor’s new clothes. We food snobs, like wine snobs, know deep down that our honed interest in the ephemeral is pretty low down on the pecking order of things that actually matter. Consequently, in much the same way that our current government operates, we surround ourselves with like-minded sycophants who will be the first to forgive us for thinking that it does. So when the bill payer clicks his/her fingers at a chain restaurant minion and they come running, no-one from either camp dares question the validity of the challenge. Money talks, deafeningly when there isn’t much around, and putting an opinionated Herbert to rights is probably not worth losing your job for.
But it is a wafer-thin confidence, to be annihilated absolutely in the not too distant future by global events, the seething aficionados of packaged goods, and common sense. I predict a time when all celebrity chefs are dragged by the hair from their culinary idylls, thrown into the stocks and pelted to death with every last leaf of kale, lollo rosso and organically-farmed, locally-sourced cucumber that inevitably ended its days in the recycling bin. When coffee houses, like televisions in the 1950s, only offer black and white as an option, and if anyone with a manicured moustache demands anything with more than one syllable, they too will be executed on-site in the manner of Charles I and their remains fed to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s pigs. And when the beasts of Smithfield, at the point of their bloody departure from this world to the restaurants of St John Street, are given the option to turn the tables, they do so on the sole condition that they feast exclusively on their perpetrators.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the future.
As I march relentlessly through my forties towards the deep earth which eventually will swallow me up, I am becoming increasingly aware that the fleeting powers bestowed on me as a robust, thrusting alpha male are beginning to dwindle. Never an easy prospect that, although I have been cushioned from the full impact thanks to the distinct lack of successors in my flat. Not having kids basically means you can run up and down the stairs with a face like Russell Crowe in Gladiator, barking orders and pretending you’re in charge. But it is a life in aspic: Sooner or later you will meet your nemesis, and last night it appeared in the form of my friend Nick’s middle offspring.
Alfie is thirteen and no fool. He can whip his way around Logic like one of them Apple Genius nerds in Regent Street and bang out a few toons in less time it would take me to remember which drawer I’d put the manual in. He uses three letter acronyms for everything & understandably expects those within his orbit to keep up or get off the pot: It’s a brutal world out there. So when Nick left the house to go pick up his daughter, I was left for a few moments staring starkly into the face of the future. But, dear readers, you’ll be pleased to learn I didn’t just lie down & hand over the baton. Oh no! This ole boy has a bit of spunk left in him yet, you bet your bum! So I countered with the only weapon I had left: Ignorance.
Alfie: GTA5 is awesome! Lucky I’ve got the Mac to myself or Dad would probably use up all the CPU.
Me: What’s GTA, Alfie?
Alfie: Grand Theft Auto?
Me: I see. And what’s CPU?
Alfie: Central Processing Unit. It’s how much power you get allocated for what you’re doing. Basic stuff, really.
Me: Oh right. Is that good?
Alfie: Sure. You know when you get graphic drag on TOD4? Means you’re getting low.
Me: Sorry Alfie, what’s TOD4?
Alfie: Tour of Duty! You need to be backed up or your reaction kill time gets slow.
Me: Er…reaction kill time? Alfie, do you have to kill everyone all the time in every game?
Alfie: Pretty much.
Me: Gosh! In my day we used to bash a square ball at each other for ages. Doubt it needed much CPU for that. And no-one really got hurt, either.
Alfie: Sounds boring.
Me: It was.
Turns out the only thing the young ’uns can’t cope with is ageing opinionated technophobia. You see, a world in which everything is better, quicker, sexier and copiously more violent will eventually have to implode, and the dinosaurs that feared extinction will once again rule the earth: It’s the law of nature. Unless, of course, I manage to pop a sprog out before I turn up my toes. In which case the whole of the above is utter bollocks.
In a plucky bid to beat the supermarkets at their own game, the Idle Hour has recently been developing its very own customer loyalty card. Using a combination of the latest nuclear, biometric and laser technologies from Iran along with simple household bleach, the SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card is set to revolutionize the entire SW13 eating and drinking experience by actually predicting what the customer will order before he/she has actually left the house, with the added benefit that it is actually organic and a full 18% recyclable:
Punter: I love my SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card. I don’t know how I ever got by without it. Really, I don’t. Sometimes I can’t even remember my own name, let alone what I’m going to have at the pub of an evening. So thank you, SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP), you’re the best. Now, what am I having again?
Sceptics have been quick to condemn the SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card, claiming there are legal implications infringing the rights of privacy currently enjoyed by people who haven’t got one:
Punter: I’m not having one of them SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) do-dahs telling me what to have of an evening. If I want a good, honest pint of Harveys I’ll bloody well have one when I bloody well want one. And them cards can stay right out of it.
Mr Thorp was quick to dismiss such allegations, however. “The situation is still under review” he commented before leaving for a swiftly arranged Press Conference in Tehran, adding to suspicions that his relationship with Mr Aftadinahrmint is perhaps more than political:
Aftadinahrmint: Iran has, at no time in the past or future, been involved in the development of loyalty cards for diners and drinkers in the SW13 area. That is a lie, and I invite inspectors to have a look around when I’ve tidied up a bit.
“Well he would say that” retorted Mr Thorp, echoing a similar political denial of a bygone era.
Like it or not, however, it seems the SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card will be here to stay. We spoke to one of the Idle Hour barstaff about the perceivable benefits:
Barstaff: It’s brilliant, like. Sort of like Brazil crossed with The Matrix. When the punter comes in, we don’t actually have to work out what they want, like. ‘Cos it’s already there in the till. It’s aces, man! And I get more time to smoke fags.
So there’s no denying there will be a sensational switch in the way Barnes barfolk transact as the rest of London looks on with baited breath. The SuperMacroMcSimpleDynabiolic™ (or VIP) card will be big business, so get on board before the bus heads out of town. We tried to track down Mr Thorp for the final say but he was away, which we would have known if we’d read our own article:
“It’s the future”, he said. Yesterday.