Rab McNeil’s Week
Poor old Sainsbury’s seems to be suffering in the Supermarket Wars, thanks to competition from German invaders Aldi and Lidl. The old, established chain is shedding 2,000 jobs in an attempt to cut costs by £500 million.
Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with my supermarket. I don’t like some of the staff, but at least you soon get to know the ones to avoid at the tills.
On my last visit this bovine woman bawled across the packed checkout area to a supervisor: “His caird’s been declined. Declined, ah tell ye!”
At least that has never happened to me in Aldi, although I find the basic presentation and lack of muzak discombobulating.
I think we all get a bit patriotic about our stores. I’ve seen people get quite het-up telling you that Tesco does better morning rolls than anyone else in the world.
And, of course, there’s that old conundrum of never being able to find things in a different supermarket. It seems to be the case that as soon as I affect a liking for something, it is discontinued and removed from the shelves.
It’s a shame that Sainsbury’s is shedding jobs and I just hope the person dispatched to tell affected staff the bad news doesn’t yell across the room: “Ye’ve been fired. Fired, ah tell ye!”
Going soft on eggs
Yay, the nation’s nippers, wrinklies and the pregnant can eat soft-boiled eggs again. Thirty years after the salmonella crisis that saw sales plummet by 60%, the controversial yolk consistency has been given the all-clear by the Department of Panics and Warnings.
I can remember briefly interviewing Edwina Currie, the junior UK government minister who started the crisis, and had the feeling she wanted to say: “Can’t we talk about something other than eggs?”
Announcing the recent all-clear, a top government scientist said: “It’s good news that children, pregnant women and the elderly can now safely eat their eggs soft boiled, runny or raw, as long as they’re stamped with the British Lion Code mark.”
Hmm. Regular readers may recall that, some months ago, I had a spell of looking after hens, whose eggs I ate daily. The worrying thing is I don’t remember any British Lion marks on them. Were they the wrong sort of hens? Were they not British? Not leonine?
It ain’t easy being young…or old
Every morning, I wake up, look in the mirror and say: “Well, thank God, I’m not young any more.” There is a germ of truth in that statement, though you would need a powerful microscope to detect it.
All the same, the young have it tough, we’re told, with the Financial Conduct Authority warning that they are running up growing debts. This is not through reckless spending but just trying to meet the essentials of life.
This news just in, young persons: it doesn’t get any easier as you get older. Apart from anything else, you have to add pensions and a mortgage to beer and records as the essentials of life.
However, my advice to those deficient in years is to be of good cheer as, with regular prayers and steadfast hygiene, things – as the song has it – can only improve slightly.
Kings of the categories
A book called Play Bigger is currently doing the rounds in start-up circles. Written by the founders of a Silicon Valley consultancy firm of the same name, its main thesis is that business hopefuls need to become “category kings” in order to create a demand where none had previously existed.
As examples, it cites Uber’s on-demand taxis, Birds Eye’s frozen fish foods and Richard Branson’s music supermakets. Virgin I get, fish fingers I get but, if I am ever in London again (and I haven’t been for nine years), I’ll be sticking to black cabs.
We were advised by two different people to use a private firm (pre-Uber, right enough), but it turned out the driver didn’t even know where the Palladium was. We had to run the last few streets and missed the first 10 minutes of the show (no skin off my own nose as I soon fell asleep anyway, but it was the Gal’s brithday and she liked these sort of things).
I liked this line, though: “Consider the Beatles: category kings of intelligent pop. David Beckham: category king of right-footed free kicks. James Watt: eighteenth category king of steam engines. We could go on.”
What a shame. Although I never quite mastered the art, I always knew there was money in bending balls.