Tag Archives: M&S

Shameless? Indiscreet? Moi?

Last night found me embracing the picnic aspect of the concert I went to at Kenwood house rather too enthusiastically.

No sooner had we settled on the grass among the other fans than I found myself – much to my boyfriend’s dismay – peering indiscreetly at other people’s picnics. In fact, before we’d even unpacked our own dinner, I had craned my neck this way and that and smugly rated the efforts of everyone around me.

There were the M&S devotees, rifling through their lime-green plastic bags and yanking open aggressively sealed plastic containers of Parma ham, hummus, and mozzarella balls with sun-dried tomatoes (then passing round the Percy Pigs). Yawn, I sighed.

Then there was the Waitrose camp, their Waitrose convenience food stored in convenient Waitrose cool bags (or else nestled in large designer hampers). They were tucking heartily into mini pork pies and posh-ly processed potato salads. They had all the gear – not only wine glasses but wine glass holders – but there was no… X-factor.

There was one pitiful girl sat spearing vegetables from a slab of couscous in her single Tupperware: everyone in her group was also guarding the one dish they’d brought along with them. I averted my eyes, embarrassed for them.

As for the couple in front of us, they were tucking into just one course: a bottle of red wine. Enough said.

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Biscuit Best Of: the definitive guide

Biscuits have been an important part of my life since childhood. Many significant chapters in my life have featured them in a supporting role.

One early memory involves me wondering whether or not to ask my mum for another before dinner. The moment I seized that first unsanctioned biscuit was the moment I established my independence and free-thinking vis à vis the baked delicacy. From then on, I would decide whether it was too close to dinner time, too soon after dinner, too early or too late for some twice-baked action.

When I made my virgin forays into illicit underage nights out and binge drinking, my buttery friends were there at the end of the night to prolong the evening and, importantly, to soak up the excess booze. Since then, they have also been there for the hangovers.

When I left home and went to work in France, biscuits gave me a cultural reference point and an emotional anchor. The exciting new varieties on the wrong side of La Manche provided me with an excuse to test them all, as well as two stones’ worth of cold comfort from my homesickness. I sampled every strain and specimen I could find with an almost scientific commitment.

Such experience in the biscuit field would hold me in good stead when, years later, I returned to France and impressed new friends with my extensive knowledge. I was a biscuit sommelier, albeit a low-rent one: warning friends to avoid certain types after a heavy meal, presenting the most delicious and upmarket varieties with a flourish, advising on the best brands for dunking, recommending superior hangover crutches. Lasting friendships were built on such crumby foundations. However, friendships have also been strained by this oral fixation. My generosity with my gear has resulted in more than one addiction, and hooked friends have despaired as their need got out of control and their chins multiplied.

The people I meet are always incredulous at my capacity for cookie munching any time, anywhere. I can be sick or tired, feeling fat or thin, celebrating or commiserating, and a biscuit will always seem appropriate. As social smokers need a fag as soon as they have a pint in their hands, so I find it difficult to drink tea without a biscuit chaser. I’ll admit it – sometimes I don’t even feel like a cup of tea. The tea is the vehicle that makes another biscuit seem more socially acceptable.

I have found that, for many, many people, particularly southerners, biscuits have never featured heavily in their lives. It seems to be a northern vice (like tea with flavour). I on the other hand think about biscuits more or less constantly and regulate my intake in certain situations so as not to get a reputation as a biscuit whore. Sooner or later though, my addiction becomes common knowledge and people look to me for a sugar hit. So, if you’re feeling peckish and like a list, have this one on me: my biscuit top ten (subject to change depending on what is my flavour – read obsession – of the month).

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