John Walsh: Not sure I fancy a pork chop from Amazon

Share
Related Topics

The coming war between Amazon and Britain's superstores to seize a chunk of the UK's online groceries-delivery market promises to be titanic. The chore of buying the same old fruit-'n'-veg-'n'-chicken-thighs-'n'-bread-'n'-wine every week has become so boring that lots of us have turned to using Tesco's or Sainsbury's', or in my case Waitrose/Ocado's, computerised shopping services. Not all of us, of course – just 13 per cent of food shoppers, apparently – but it's a figure set to rise. To be able to call up your weekly to-get list on screen, make minor adjustments (it's July – more sunscreen, strawberries and wet wipes!) then press a button to have it delivered to your front door – well, it's the answer to a maiden's prayer.

It's a fantastically lucrative market: Ocado, a comparatively small player, have announced they're soon to float on the London Stock Exchange at a value of £1.1bn. Amazon will be eyeing Tesco's domination of the scene and wondering how to challenge it – but can they? Really? Shall we recall our many woeful experiences with the world's largest online retailer over the years? All those books and DVDs that went awry, turned up two months late, turned up in triplicate or involved astounding price extras? All those nudging demands about other things you might want to buy? All the time it took to negotiate your way to the checkout?

Imagine if you were trying to buy a humble pork chop on Amazon. You go to the site, click on "pork chop" and be told, "IN STOCK. 236 new from £1.20. 17 used from £0.55. 2 collectible from £10. Want guaranteed delivery by Friday 9 July?" As you're trying to decide, they'll flash up the message, "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..." followed by a tirade of otiose guff about apple sauce, roast potatoes, red cabbage and Rennies. Then, some way down the screen come the customer reviews: "I've never tried Pork Chop be4, feering there might be issues around Jewishness, Zionism etc, but I was pleasantly surprised. It tastes strongly of pig, with elements of fat round the edges, but it goes down your throat and stays there. I'll definately be recommending it to friends!!!"

So you order it, pay for it, sit at home and wait for it, looking forward to a lovely pork dinner the following night. Sadly, it never arrives, and you ring a takeaway as usual. As luck will have it, one (slightly odiferous) cardboard package containing your chop will be delivered, three weeks later, to an address in west London, Ontario...

Don't get too carried away, Neil

I've been hooked on Radio 4's A History of the World in 100 Objects ever since it started in about 4598BC (it seems to have been going on forever,) despite two things: 1) the terrible wailey-woo voice, and the song-of-antiquity-with-strummed-lute music that announce the programme; and 2) the constant mismatch between the object so thrillingly described by Professor Neil MacGregor and the visual evidence provided by the BBC website.

Time and again I've been moved to inspect Object No 34 or Object No 51 in all their glory, only to find a lump of rock or a collection of pot shards which cannot, even by the most brutal application of archaeological analysis, be plausibly imagined as a Stone Age calculator or a Bronze Age jigsaw. Sometimes, one wonders if the professor is in the grip of some hallucinogen, especially when he's talking about powerful women. Two weeks ago, he dealt with a Mayan limestone carving that depicts a king and queen, with the queen saucily kissing the cord of the king's tunic; MacGregor assured us they were "engaged in an agonising scene of ritual bloodletting". You what?

Yesterday, he was at it again, inspecting the statue of a jolly-looking, bare-breasted woman with an open mouth – like an early inflatable sex toy – and identifying her as an Aztec divinity called Tlazoteotl, "goddess of filth...into whose mouth all the excrement of the world was poured". Neil? Are you okay?

What we're all longing to know, of course, is which 20th-century objects MacGregor will deem to be a crucial part of world history. Some will be too obvious to miss out – motor car, movie camera, silicon chip, iPhone – but what about the humbler objects that changed the world for some of us? Like disposable nappies, contact lenses, the Automobile Association, screw-top wine bottles and the universal bath plug? Will he devote a whole programme to Sliced Bread? And will he (typically) identify it as "a terrifying, ritual dismemberment of baked dough"?

Ridley Scott's quest for 'real life' is doomed

Stand by for some energetic posing on Saturday fortnight, when the film directors Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald will ask 20 people around the world to "capture moments of their daily lives" on YouTube, as contributions to a documentary called Life in One Day – one of those "time capsule" experiments meant to enlighten future generations about The Way We Used To Be.

Oh please. How doomed to failure is that? Anyone who has the least acquaintance with YouTube knows the kind of thing that rules its airwaves.

Rather than revealing anything real and true about "what it was like to be alive on the 24th July, 2010", the footage will be full of Darth Vader lookalikes being effortfully comic in supermarket aisles, domestic scenes of cute babies biting their siblings' fingers or swearing for the camera, and newly married couples performing cray-zee dance routines to "You're the One that I Want". Not so much a snapshot of reality, as a glimpse of life on Planet Showoff.

j.walsh@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Secondary supply teachers required in Newmarket

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh  

Scottish independence: Forget Yes and No — what about a United Kingdom of Independent States?

Ben Judah
Francois Hollande at the Paris summit on Iraq with ministers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on 15 September  

What's going to happen in Syria and Iraq? A guide to the new anti-Isis coalition's global strategy

Jonathan Russell
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week