Tesco – enthusiastically and tackily football mad

Despite the recent rain and the prognosis for more today, we wandered out this fine summer’s day in search of the finest cod roe. Round these parts that’s to be had from Richardson’s Smokehouse. DW knew about this before Johnny-come-latelys like Nigel Slater, but truth be told he probably did more to put it on the map.

Richardson's Smokehouse, Orford. I really must learn to avoid shooting into the sun :)

This part of Suffolk seems to be a magnet for London types in search of fine living on the weekend, some of the weekenders from The Smoke in Southwold seem to know the area better than us ;) There’s competition round these parts with Pinney’s which has a shop in a much more tourist-friendly place on the quay.

Pinney's shop on Orford Quay

One of the things that made today even better was that the madding crowds seemed absent, indeed the roads were quiet and the village was quiet. I’d noticed the dearth of people yesterday when cycling in Ipswich, and wondered if it had something to do with all those Ingerland flags about the place.

Now the Ermine has detested sport, particularly team sports, ever since school. However, I do love it when sport is on the TV, because a) I hardly watch TV and b) it keeps everybody off the streets. So I’m all for Euro 2012, and indeed other sporting events, I hope people have a really great time while they’re leaving the real world to me!

Tesco loves Football too – as a way of parting the Punters from their cash

So one the way back we wander into Tesco. Mindful of the recently trumpeted researchthat supermarkets lead shoppers to buy 35% more with artful packaging (original report)I thought I’d take a look.

One of the obvious conclusions I had on entering the store was that Tesco really, really, loves football.

Tesco really loves football. Look at all the things Euro 2012 related you can buy

Look at all that lovely Stuff you can buy! Is it a wonder nobody has any money left in the UK? Heck, you can buy your lardy kids an Official England Product of a £5 plastic football, in the vain hope that they lift their eyes from the screen they’re currently engrossed in long enough to consider a kickabout outside. I suppose it might happen, in the same way as It Could Be You in the Lottery but It Almost Definitely Won’t Be You. Presumably these footballs  no longer stitched by kids in Pakistan but perhaps stitched by kids somewhere we don’t know about yet. What is an Official England product anyway? Where’s the office that makes it Official? Is there only one of them? Can I get a peaked hat and a red rubber stamp and make merchandise official? Why does it make something sound more desirable to slap the meaningless adjective Official on it?

Hey, you can buy Official crates of wife-beater, any 3 for £22 on the left. Don’t like Stella? Tesco can do you industrial quantities of Carling to swill with your mates on the Big Day. And good luck to you if you’re prepared to sling that sort of ropey liquor down the hatch. Presumably the spirit of Euro 2012 doesn’t go as far as getting some of the rather fine lagers that Europe has to offer us, or indeed the ales of England. No, ropey, gassy and made by InBev seems to be de rigeur, but heck, something has to be done to turn the fortunes of Tesco around!

Mindful of the All Seeing Eye top dead centre I went to the other end and took a look back down, to secure the picture before some burly chaps with thick necks decide to take an interest in my research into Tesco’s sudden enthusiasm for the footy.

97p for a Euro cushion. Classy

You can get a Euro 2012 mug or cushion for 97p. I can’t quite work out what they were selling us in the foreground for £2, but they were obviously expecting to sell an awful lot of it.

Then I had a disturbing epiphany. All of this ephemeral crap was an insult to the resources of the world, shite created explicitly to become persistent landfill for hundreds of years to come. Tesco don’t give a tinker’s toss about football, but they see us as mugs to sell a transient feelgood factor and a few gallons of cheap and nasty metallic tasting lager.

So I passed on the opportunity to destroy a little bit more of the world’s resources to make Mr Tesco richer. Each to their own, clearly somewhere in Ipswich there’s a desperate need for plastic footballs and limp silvery doo-hickeys at £2 a pop. though if you’re really going to drink £22 worth of wife-beater I do suggest you might want to have a word with your insides first to gauge their take on it all ;)

Oh and in 3012 the equivalent of Time Team will be excavating the local rubbish tip. Some hypervision presenter will be standing beside a pile of this garbage and wondering to their audience why the good people of Ipswich had such execrable taste in the old days.

Tesco ain’t all bad. They do some things well

We managed to escape the blandishments of the football section, oddly enough, to get what we came for.  Anything as big as Tesco can’t be all bad, and they are one bulwark against the creeping malaise of Scaredypants that pervades life more and more. Tesco happens to be one of the few places in the area that sells Camembert from unpasteurised milk.

A Tesco Camembert. You owe it to yorself to make sure it's AOC

Camembert is meant to be made from unpasteurised milk. The trouble with that is that industrialised producers are shit-scared (literally :) ) of E coli propagating through their processes, so they’d like to use pasteurised milk, and therefore can’t label their product AOC (Appellation Origine Controllee). Rather than accepting the fact that they are making a substandard product cheaply and taking the hit in the marketplace of being seen as an also-ran cheese, they lobbied to change the AOC definition. Which is a bit like me saying I can’t hit the goal at Euro 2012, could they please change the rules of football to make the goal the whole width of the field, please? It all sounds tremendously French, but it looks like the bureaucrats held firm and at least the Isigny co-operative wound their necks in, and continued to use unpasteurised milk.

The trouble is that when people of a nervous disposition read the label.

Warning - eat this and you might DIE

They then go Waaaaahh, I might DIE. Nooooooo. It might be BAD for CHILDREN. Eeeeoooowwww. Well, yes, if you go around this old world being frightened of anything with any taste to it and avoid the great outdoors then you might compromise your resistance to infection. That sort of thing still didn’t help Howard Hughes.

As MMM opined recently, safety is an expensive illusion – and it buggers your life up. Use your head. People have been eating this stuff for years. Sadly the increasingly frightened people will start shunning any out-of the ordinary experiences because ‘better to be safe then sorry’ and ‘think of the children’. There are lots of things that could go wrong. For a start, what idiotic jerk thought up of the idea of roads? People driving FAST in OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS with no SAFETY BARRIER? Where are the little yellow stickers there? Who let that happen round here, sack the buggers.

Anyway, we got out of Tesco with our Camembert cheese, and without any disposable Euro2012 paraphernalia despite Tesco’s best efforts to persuade us otherwise. And so far, fingers crossed, I’ve managed to survive the hazards of the cheese without noticing the awesome dangers I’ve dodged, yet again.

We’d always go on holiday during the football and I’d always get one of those books on the players and teams at the tournaments on the way. That was the highlight of my holiday’s so long live the cheap football tat! Not sure what they need all those footballs for though, because you don’t see that many people actually playing the game these days.

Hope to see more stories in the coming months featuring a bemused and flustered ermine going on a variety of adventures. Have you ever thought of writing a Bill Bryson-esque travel guide? Would be a marvellous idea if you did. You’ve some bottle taking pictures in a big store like that though… when I took pictures of businesses for a writing job I was uncomfortably aware of police dogging my steps.

“you can buy your lardy kids an Official England Product of a £5 plastic football, in the vain hope that they lift their eyes from the screen they’re currently engrossed in long enough to consider a kickabout outside”

Love it – I agree with Rob, there is definitely a book waiting to be written there – Ermine’s adventures in Modern Britain!!

I agree with you about the excessive safety labelling. It is over-bureaucratic and likely to frighten some people away from tasting some fantastic real food.

My favourite Tesco food label dates back a few years to when the Atkins Diet was popular. They actually sold packs of bacon with a sticker on them which said in bold letters “LOW IN CARBOHYDRATES”. If you’re the kind of person who think that red meat might be high in carbs, then you’re probably going to struggle with the Atkins Diet.

That said, I have more sympathy with Tesco than you. They have revolutionised food retailing (in a good way – no more supermarkets with only tinned food, or greengrocers full of manky fruit) and they have a laser-like focus on what their customers want.

The aisles of Euro 2012 tat and cheap lager aren’t pleasant, but all Tesco are doing is providing customers what they want. They are holding a mirror up to society. And the reflection isn’t always very nice. Eugh.

[…] happens to be close to the mushroom hunting woods, and the particular delicacy we were after is available only from Richardson’s Smokehouse there: their Smoked Cod Roe. Cod roe is very nutritious, and I like it from the big tins you […]

 

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