Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Best Before Dates

Am I hearing things? A Government minister contradicting "sell by" and "best before" dates? Surely not. These are the sacred cows of consumerism! But it appears so: Hilary Benn says we need to re-think these cursed dates to keep our food supplies "secure". Is the nanny state actually saying that we might trust our own senses to decide on something so serious as whether our bacon is "off"? I need a stiff drink.
Having put up with use-by and sell-by for decades we might - finally - start relying on our senses to tell us whether our food has gone bad. Staying with bacon, it is pretty obvious that it has "gone". It looks, smells and tastes terrible. For other things it hardly matters. I never mind cutting a piece of mouldy cheese off a block and scoffing the rest. I don't like the black pulp that bananas turn into, but I don't like them under-ripe either. Now here's strange: I can tell what a banana looks like when it is edible. [Gasp] Oh yes. Gather round and learn.
I hope that the British consumer will now stop racing downstairs each morning to see which cans and packets are out of date; which eggs are still edible; cornflakes, milk, butter... What do we junk today? Quick, before it explodes!
Have you noticed that bottles of wine do not carry a best before date? The French, probably.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Rent" and the youth of today

The Edinburgh Fringe, you will already know, finds venues and support for some great shows every year. I saw "Rent" on Saturday (8th August) at the Merchant's Hall. It was astonishing. The good bits are too many to mention; the bad bits are too few to remember. It ended, quite rightly, with a standing ovation. Complete sell-out. All week. Awesome.
Then step back for a moment. The cast are aged between 18 and (I guess) 22. They can portray joy, sadness, love, hate, laughter and tears with consummate ease. The songs were sung with style, gusto, tenderness and passion as required. The musical support was superb. Most of the time you would believe that you were listening to a karaoke CD.
But hang on...
Aren't these kids part of the useless generation that roam our streets picking up ASBOs? The lazy students with devalued GCSEs and equally worthless A-Levels? The no-hopers who blow their student loans in bars and Pizza Hut? The sea anchor of our struggling society? Our millstone?
It would, from what I've seen (and not just in "Rent"), appear not to be the case.
Well done Team Rent. Loved it.