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9:45pm on Saturday, 6th October, 2007:

How We Laughed


Today, I came across the first gasp-inducing moment of my new, Guardian-reading career. It was in a section where Simon Hoggart was looking with fondness at Blackpool, where the Conservative Party Conference was held (but where there won't be any more party political conferences for a while). He related how he went to a Harry Ramsden's Fish & Chip restaurant and when he asked for ice in his fizzy drink was told there wasn't any, because it was a fish & chip restaurant.

The way he described this, he seemed to think that it was rather amusing that there were people so parochial that they didn't even serve ice with the fizzy drinks in their restaurants. I can only assume he felt that his readers would share this world view.

Sadly for him, anyone outside the rarefied atmosphere of national newspaper journalism would be amazed he didn't know how gauche it was even to ask. Such incidents of let them eat cake have got people executed in the past.

It was a fish & chip restaurant. Yes, it was Harry Ramsden's, one of the best chippies in the country, but it was still a chippie. What makes it a restaurant is you get a seat and cutlery, not that you get ice in your fizzy drink. For someone who lives in the UK, this is a pretty amazing disconnection with reality.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).