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If you live in, or travel around, any of the UK’s larger cities; have you tried to get a simple cheese and onion cob?

Try if you want to – but it’s almost impossible to obtain this previous staple of the general publics’ lunch, I tried 7 or 8 bakers last week and none were able to oblige. There was a whiff of hope at one shop, when after having eyed me with suspicion, a member of staff offered to make one and disappeared round the back – only to return 5 minutes later (yes, really, 5 minutes) with the news that there was no onion…

Instead, you will be offered all manner of other rubbish, purporting to be an ‘improvement’ on your simple requirements.

There is a plethora of baguette retailers – most of whom wouldn’t know a real baguette if it bit them in the ass – the pale, undercooked rubbish they foist onto the public would shame a real French baker.

Cheese and Onion Cob

What lies behind this disappearance is of course the commercialisation of your lunch; most of the new breed of lunch retailers make a big deal out of freshness, but the bread is mostly delivered part cooked, to be finished off on site in a big fan heater.

Fillings are decided on by a panel of experts with a keen eye on the profits; a cheese and onion cob wouldn’t shift at £2.50, but a Tomato blushed, rosemary scented foot long ‘baguette’ stuffed with sun ripened peppers from the slopes of Kilimanjaro and dill scented wild salmon could go for £3.95.

The commercialisation is further evidenced by the appearance of chain stores, including that one that sells ‘subs’ – whatever they are – I have never managed to get in one of their shops find out – the smell emanating from the door makes me heave.

Another ‘ready to eat’ merchant now sells half a sandwich – ‘half the dough’, oh how I laughed…

A further ‘envelope pushing’ line is the ‘bread less sandwich’ – what the hell is a bread less sandwich? We used to call it a salad.

Is it me?…

The following misdemeanors are all attributable to members of an elite club in the UK whose numbers are limited to 636 members:

  • 29 accused of spouse abuse
  • 19 of writing bad cheques
  • 7 arrested for fraud
  • 117 directly or indirectly been bankrupted in at least two businesses
  • 3 served a prison sentence for assault
  • 71 cannot obtain a credit card due to bad credit
  • 14 arrested on drug related charges
  • 8 arrested for shoplifting
  • 21 currently defendants in a court case
  • 84 charged with drunk driving in the last year

The name of the club………

Houses of Parliament

The House of Commons

Source: BBC Radio 2 Monday 15th January 2007 The Wogan Breakfast Show & Mr B in Quinton

Sitting in the usual stream of never ending traffic – which turns a 10 minute journey into one lasting over 40 – you get to think about a lot of things, especially with the blank canvas of yet another van blocking all else from view.

If you are 10 cars back; and the lights change; what do you imagine are your chances of getting through?

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Another level of government sponsored mayhem is about to hit the flying public. As if the current round of preflight belt/ shoes/ coat removal and then the interrogation and search for liquids were not enough, the Chancellor has now seen fit to double the passenger air tax – at short notice and with effect from February 07 – meaning that passengers who booked before the tax was announced will have it collected from them one way or another – possibly at the check in desk.

This tax is supposed to make us pay for being so selfish in our mode of transport and to even up the ‘lightly taxed’ aviation industry.

The Environment Minister (Ian Pearson) recently called Ryanair the ‘irresponsible face of capitalism’, now I am no defender of Ryanair; but what exactly does the minister expect of them, they already operate the most modern fleet they can, are they expected to cease trading?

A few facts:

  • According to the Stern review, aviation generates 1.6% of global emissions
  • Assuming recent growth rates continue this would be 2.5% by 2050
  • Road transport creates 10% of global emissions – now
  • Electricity generation creates 24%
  • Deforestation creates 18% (and half of this from Indonesia and Brazil alone)

Despite these facts the government has been reluctant to invest in green energy production and has delayed decisions on public transport infrastructure projects, which could cut road traffic emissions. It is therefore fair to assume that the increased tax on air travel is simply another cash grab.

Regarding the security levels; whilst most of us accept that this is necessary for our safety there are some ‘opt outs’ available – disguise is apparently acceptable details here… is it me?

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