Monday, 22 July 2013


This week I got really angry a few times. So, you might say, you’re at the sort of age when anger goes with those grey hairs; chill out; it isn’t fatal.

Only starvation is fatal.

I watched a BBC programme incredulously – “The Great British Budget Menu”. I was incredulous because it ran through midnight which is not exactly prime time.  And incredulous because it painted a picture of Britain I thankfully don’t recognise but have suspected is there lurking just below politics and whiffle of middle class crossness.

Essentially we have a nutrition crisis.

Forget obesity. Forget Five-a-Day. Through massive food price inflation we are facing a crisis in which a lot of people just don’t have enough to eat, in which well over ½ million people are forced to use Food Banks , the use of which has increased by 200% over the past three months alone.

The only apparently affordable way of eating is the worst way – cans and instant if you’re on a draconian budget.

The programme showed three top chefs Hartnett, Corrigan and Martin struggling to create a decent nutritious meal for £1. The best bits were James Martin asking a butcher to cut a chicken leg in half, Richard Corrigan’s face when a mum told him she had just 20p to last till payday (she was what George our chancellor would call an “honest, hardworking mum”) and Angela Hartnett whooping with joy when she found a chicken for £2.70. No animal husbandry here, no organic squeamishness. Cheap protein….yes!
With all the caveats of knowing a TV producer is squeezing out maximum anguish and empty plates are being filmed by well-fed cameramen this programme humbled and shocked me. I hope David, Nick, Ed and company all felt the same.

And then there was the Sunday Times article about advertising. It said “mad men are being replaced by maths men as ad agencies bid for eyeballs in fractions of a second.” Apart from being glad for anything nasty that happens to the odious and talentless Don Draper and his colleagues I was again enraged. What used to be called the “persuasion industry” has allegedly become the computerised subliminal impact industry. Any industry that becomes a process next becomes a commodity and then dies.

So goodbye to the ads that lay behind some of the greatest film talents as they matured…Ridley Scott, Alan Parker, Adrian Lyne and others. Goodbye to storytelling. Goodbye to creativity. Really?

Clearly insane.

We’re too rich as a nation to allow a large community to be hungry and we’re too smart as a country to believe Chinese water torture is superior to the magic of creativity and brilliant advertising ideas.

Or am I being an optimist?

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