Sometimes there’s no pun that captures the absurdity of a situation so well as a straight description. So it is with the headlines on the Osborne burger bust-up. The Sun’s “Shamburger” had much to recommend it, of course, but really the BBC’s version says it all: “Osborne defends choice of Spending Review burger.”
Let’s remove the bun and parse the gherkin on this whopper of a headline. What, exactly, is a Spending Review burger? The only thing I can think is that it’s much more unpleasant than you were expecting, but when you complain, the waiter cheerfully explains that this is partly because the chef is making efficiencies and the previous owners left them with some really crappy meat to work with and at any rate we’re all in it together. I don’t know if this is what the BBC had in mind. I know what The Sun did, though. Its original piece – double bylined, no less – is, admittedly, a masterpiece of tabloid mischief-making and, predictably enough, we are all talking about it.
But it has also had the unfortunate side-effect of making me feel a bit of sympathy for old Gideon. Unlike Nick Clegg, who this morning told radio listeners that he, too, enjoyed the occasional “fancy burger” (or even Ed Miliband, who must have been sweating bullets when a picture of him at a Fine Burger Co started doing the rounds), I have no agenda; I was howling with the best of them when he got nailed for sitting in first class on the train with a standard ticket.
But in this instance, the poor bugger must be wondering what on earth has hit him.
The really sneaky elision in the Sun’s piece is this: “The chancellor tweeted a snap of himself ‘finalising’ work on his spending cuts over a burger and chips. BUT IT WAS A GOURMET MEAL FROM A TRENDY DINER.”
The caps, though you would be forgiven for not knowing it, are mine. Here are some more: HE NEVER SAID IT WASN’T FROM A TRENDY DINER. HE DIDN’T DISGUISE IT IN A BOX BEARING THE GOLDEN ARCHES. HE JUST TWEETED A PICTURE OF HIMSELF SITTING NEAR A BURGER. WE ARE ALL LOSING OUR MINDS HERE.
But you know this already, and it’s probably boring to bang on about it, so here are two closing observations.
The first is, if this is a blow to the bullshittification of the British burger, which all too often now features artichoke or aubergine or ostrich, and which has not yet improved on the BK bacon double cheeseburger, then Mr Osborne’s suffering will not have been in vain.
The second is, as it happens, while his initial tweet didn’t show him up as out of touch, his later explanation that “McDonald’s doesn’t deliver” certainly did. If he was really a man of the people, he would have made the same point about Nando’s.
I’ll say this in Osborne’s defence: Nando’s doesn’t deliver.
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