Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Jamie Oliver and the Big Fucking Flatscreen Telly Conundrum

Food, or a Big Fucking Flatscreen Telly (BFFT)? That’s the dilemma. Every day, people with little money can be seen wandering the aisles of supermarkets across the nation, a concerned look etched on their face, as they weigh up the pros and cons of the two options.

Celebrity chef and owner of big lips Jamie Oliver has had enough! He just can’t understand why poor people are making the wrong decisions. He’s not judgmental,but…

Food, obviously, is great. But you can’t use it to watch Jamie Oliver’s programmes about how terrible poor people are at eating the right sort of food. Still, maybe you’re too tired from working overtime to supplement your terrible wages to want to watch them anyway. Maybe you just want to collapse on the sofa with a takeaway, which you can buy at any of the plethora of takeaway establishments in any town. In my town, there’s a market once a week (which no-one who works can get to) and a farmer’s market once a month. Poor people don’t all have “local markets” to walk past and get their mange tout.

On the other hand, you can’t eat a TV. It’s alright until the glass breaks, at which point you find yourself with a mouthful of pointy shards and blood, and a floor covered in glass. Worse, you’ll probably waste that glass, because there’s so much of it in your BFFT. If you’d only thought to pop to the local electronics market, you could have purchased a smaller TV, with just enough glass for your evening meal.

Perhaps Jamie knows of a recipe that uses stale remote controls, since poor people probably have them in abundance. I suppose we’ll have to wait for his new series to find out.

Jamie (can I call you Jamie? I’m going to.) is sort of alright I suppose, generally, but he is understandably viewing the world through the filter of a £150,000,000 bank balance. Because that’s what he has, apparently. In the world of the rich, and even in the world of the not poor, the BFFT has become the boldest symbol of the undeserving poor.

Poor people's TVs can only show Jeremy Kyle. True fact.

“They can’t be REALLY poor, have you seen their BFFT? Of course you have, it’s so big you can see it from the MOON.”

“If they’re so poor, why don’t they sell that TV and use the money to buy some tasty* quinoa?”

The BFT is wheeled out in TV programmes about benefits. It’s referred to by celebrity chefs when they’re on their high horse (which they have mounted in order to PUBLICISE A TV SERIES).

Here are some things I just thought about BFFTs:

1.     It is pretty much impossible to buy a TV which is not a BFFT. A SFFT (Small Fucking Flatscreen Telly) only costs a few quid less than its big brother, to encourage you to supersize your TV in the same way that McDonalds encourages you to supersize your meal. It is impossible to buy a non-flatscreen TV in 2013, unless you own a TARDIS.
2.     BFFTs are worth the square root of bugger all once they’re about six minutes old, because the new model has come out. If you sell your BFFT to Cash Converters, they’ll probably offer you about £6.50, or perhaps a week’s supply of mange tout.
3.     I bought a BFFT once. I had a job when I did. I might not have a job next week, who knows?

There’s a hashtag going on Twitter at the moment: #AskJamieOliver. I think I’d like to ask him whether he still thinks he’s not judgmental, because I think he is.

Oh, and: “I’ve got some mouldy bread, do you have a recipe for that?"


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Room 101

I used to quite like Room 101 when Paul Merton presented it. That’s because he’s really flippant and sarcastic, like me. Paul Merton definitely wouldn’t be in my Room 101, apart from that time he did that programme about China, because that was a bit rubbish.

Anyhoo, now they’ve changed the format of the programme so that it’s some kind of competition. Three celebrities(ish) plead their case for each of a few things and Frank Skinner decides which of them gets their things shoved in the Room of Doom.

If I went on the programme (which I will, obviously, once I’m a (sort of) celebrity) I’d choose Frank Skinner as my thing to put in the room. Every time.

Still, the bastardised version of Room 101 being peddled by the BBC isn’t really in keeping with Orwell’s original idea; a sort of torture therapy designed to break your resistance to the suggestion that you should submit to the totalitarian state in the novel 1984.

This meme I’ve been tagged in, by Body Pump addict Lara from over here and here, wants me to tell you what would be in my Room 101. I'll be honest, I've struggled with this. There is so much in the world which fills me with rage, or upsets me, or causes me to think that humans are a hopeless cause, that I could fill Room 101 and then spill into rooms 102, 103 and 104.

So I've decided I'll be flippant and sarcastic in my answers, because I don't want it to get too heavy...

1.  Stubbing your toe - you know that moment, when you misjudge a step, or don't see something in the way of your foot, and smash your big toe into it? When suddenly it seems the force you are able to exert on an object via your toe is practically infinite? When you scatter expletives like the seeds of a dandelion clock, filling the air with phrases which would have your grandmother reaching for a bar of soap to ram into your mouth? That. That can go in Room 101. 

2.  Football pundits - Imagine being locked in a room where everyone was a football pundit. A room where everyone said "good" when they meant "well", as well as other assorted linguistic nightmares. I don't like football, and I really struggle with people wot don't talk good. So, Room 101 for you.

3.  Food waste recycling bins - Harbourers of maggots, reservoirs of juices from the decomposing cells of unwanted foodstuffs, a constant reminder of how bad we are at not wasting things. Food waste recycling bins are horrible things. Also, they smell bad.

Now, since I'm already prattling on, how about my personal hell. My Room 101 as Orwell intended? It's small. A ten foot square box. The walls are smooth and unadorned. The floor and ceiling are the same. It's just me, and no-one else. Nothing else. It's light, but there's no visible source. It is silent, odourless, textureless and deeply, deeply boring. If I lick the walls they don't taste of anything. What could be worse, mentally, than a room full of nothing? That's my idea of Room 101.

Thanks for reading, and if you'd like me to tag you to take part, let me know and I'll happily oblige (unless I've just stubbed my toe).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I grew up in the 90s.

The 90s were a bit of a funny decade, from what I remember. In the early part of it, lots of people lost their jobs, lost their homes and went to big parties in fields. All three of those things were probably a bit shit, but the last one was made good by little tablets which made everyone think the 90s were great.

Then, in 1997, everything changed. You probably know what I'm talking about. The dawn of a new era. A paradigm shift in the way we lived.

Not Tony Blair and New Labour.


Look at them. Awe inspiring, no? (Photo courtesy of http://www.pop-music.com)

Remember those guys (and girls)? Inspiring lyrics, easy to copy dance routines, brain achingly uplifting. Wow. Momentous.

I think Steps were probably aware of how much of a game changer they were, which is why they decided to be called Steps. See, steps (without the capital letter) are a bit of a game changer themselves, and they're currently changing the game in my house.

Yes. The boy is walking. A bit. Sort of. He's quite good at falling over. And very good at tentatively letting go of things, taking two faltering, carefully considered paces, then dropping to his knees.

Both my wife and I were present for his first go at it (well, we're happy to assume it was his first go...) and it is one of those moments that reminds you how magical it is to be a parent. A big moment. A window into how things will be from now on.

Soon, we won't be crawling around the floor with him, chasing him out from under the table and watching him laugh as he leads us through gaps which we are really too big to get through. Walking is big. Walking is one of the things which makes us unique as a species (I know there are other bipeds, feel free to not point that out...).

Those first steps are a literal and figurative move toward a whole new chapter in our son's life. Unlike Steps, I think this will be a good chapter.