A finger lickin' good idea: The fried chicken route to nutrition


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Of all the projects vying for donations through sites such as Kickstarter, the one that attracted the most column inches last week was an eye-catching plan to put an upmarket and healthy fried-chicken shop in the heart of Tottenham, north London.

The idea is that the profits from the evening’s business will subsidise the £2 daytime special and that local kids will be drawn in by the quality of the food. The man behind the plan, Benjamin Rymer, says that the scheme is a win-win, because “people will know that their money is going back into the community” and young people will get a place that serves healthy food and welcomes their custom.

But for all the articles written about Rymer’s vision, none has pointed out that there might be a small problem with its proposed name: Chicken Town. Granted, the youth of Tottenham might be too young to recall the work of John Cooper Clarke, but anyone who remembers his “Evidently Chickentown” poem will know that this might not be the best choice of name for an upmarket restaurant (“The bloody pies are bloody old/The bloody chips are bloody cold” etc).

When I put the problem to Rymer he laughs: “That’s the idea and where we got the name from. The ethos is to take something that’s a problem and turn it into something good.”

Up Periscope?

Though the launch of Jay-Z’s Tidal could boast the most celebrities, it is the new apps Meerkat and Periscope that are more likely to really change our lives in the near future. Both offer largely the same thing: namely, the ability to stream live video through Twitter (which owns Periscope).

Already hugely popular with early adopters, the rest of us might do well to hold off a while; and especially if you’ve read Dave Eggers’ novel The Circle, in which Mae, an employee at a social network, pioneers personal video broadcasting with tragic consequences.

Strangely, given that real life is now imitating Eggers’ art so closely, little of the coverage for Periscope and Meerkat references The Circle. In fact, the only piece I could find making the connection was by a blogger called Tim Perzyk, who writes: “Every minute is knowable, documentable, observable. The pressure to be ‘transparent’ mounts and the doom of an Orwellian global state descends. Is that where we’re headed?”

He concludes: “In a word: No. My experience using both Meerkat and Periscope over the past several weeks has reinforced my fundamental optimism about human nature.” Phew. That’s all right then. Except what’s this at the bottom of Perzyk’s piece? “Disclosure: I am an employee of Twitter.” Aaaaarrrghhh.

Girls and boys come out to play

As any parent of young children who has attended singing groups will know, there are only so many times that you can hear “Wheels on the Bus”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Wind the Bloody Bobbin Up”. So perhaps I might draw your attention to Mrs H and the Sing-along Band, a group that specialises in original songs that all ages can join in with. Led by the irrepressible Harriette Ashcroft, the band consists of ex members of Red Snapper as well as Beth Orton collaborator Ted Barnes.

“I started doing this when my son was born,” Mrs H tells me, “and over the years the songs mutated and I started adding more and more of my own material. I need to sing and that’s what we all need to do and it’s my aim to merge the band and audience together in one big blissful chaotic singalong.”

What began in a church in north London is about to take to the stage at the Union Chapel, Islington, where Mrs H and band will launch their album, Dance Away With Me, on  19 April. The concert starts at 3pm and is free to all. And really, I ask, there’s no age restriction? “No,” Mrs H says. “We had a couple bring their three-day-old baby once.” 

Losing customers is easy as pie

Under the guise of a “religious freedom law”, the state of Indiana, in the US, has paved the way for local businesses to discriminate against gay people. First out of the blocks to do so was a pizza parlour called Memories, whose Crystal O’Connor said: “If a couple came in and wanted us to provide pizza for their wedding, we would have to say no.”

One person who heard O’Connor’s strange statement (pizza at a wedding?), responded by quickly snapping up the domain name “MemoriesPizza.com” and filling the site first with rainbow flags and satirical material and then a message that read simply: “Don’t discriminate. It’s not nice.”

The restaurant has temporarily closed.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

As a nation we stand on the brink,

So let’s hear what our leaders all think,

But for each bit of prattle,

It seems the key battle,

Is ‘Fifteen to One’ – ‘Weakest Link’.