Bad food rising
The backlash was inevitable. After years of Marks & Spencer adverts, endless reality TV cook-offs and people sitting next to you in posh restaurants taking photos of their plates, it was only a matter of time before the anti-gastronomic voyeurism movement took root.
Step forward the blog Dimly Lit Meals for One, "Heartbreaking Images of One Man's Home Cooking Gone Wrong", which went viral last week. The "one man" in question wishes to remain anonymous but this column went to strenuous efforts to track him down and ask how it felt to have become the nation's favourite anti-Jamie. "To be honest," he says, "I started this to amuse my mate. He showed me some pictures someone he knew uploaded of home-cooking gone wrong and we were literally crying with laughter." So, a little over a week ago, the 30-year-old fired up a fresh Tumblr page and DLMFO was born.
"It seems to be taking on a life of its own, I've gone from a few hundred followers to tens of thousands in the space of a few days." And does he have any idea why this has proved so popular? "People feel bad because the stuff they turn out can't hope to look like something Nigella or Jamie would make. A lot of people can't be arsed to chop veg, they just look what's in the fridge and get filled with a deep sense of despair."
Daft as a brush
The phrase "as useful as a chocolate teapot" has established itself as a perfectly useful one for something that is not particularly useful, but it seems that no one in the R&D department of Proctor & Gamble is aware of the idiom. Because that company's latest product is chocolate toothpaste, to be sold in the United States from next month. According to its makers, Crest Be Adventurous Mint Chocolate Trek has a "rich, creamy cocoa flavour [which] provides an indulgent and decadent experience". But the product, according to one reviewer, doesn't leave "a clean-mouth feeling". At the time of going to press, Cadbury has not yet announced plans for a toothpaste-flavoured chocolate bar.
Send out the search Marty
Much excitement in the Twittersphere about the announcement of the Back to the Future musical scheduled to open in London's West End next year. Producer Colin Ingram told the press, "Now all we have to find is a young man to play Marty. He needs to be a guitarist, a singer, an actor – and good-looking." So who might that be? X Factor reject Frankie Cocozza – currently said to be looking for a job in Tesco – would be a good bet. He ticks all of Ingram's boxes and is, at 21, not far from the age Marty is supposed to be. Other likely contenders are Daniel Radcliffe (dabbles in guitar), who is now 24, the same age Michael J Fox was when he took on the role. Or Justin Bieber, who would give good box office but might, ahem, be otherwise detained. Members of the pop band McFly have the advantage of the right name, but all are in their late twenties. Over to the experts in unusual bets, Paddy Power, who, prompted by this column, got their specialist trader in unusual bets to offer these prices:
1. Ray Quinn, 10/1 favourite
2. Nathan Sykes (currently on hiatus from The Wanted), 12/1
3. Arthur Darvill (Dr Who), Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones), James Lomas and George Maguire (both Billy Elliot), 16/1. Any member of One Direction will get you odds of 33/1 and Radcliffe is there at 40/1. You read it here first.
Predictions blow hot and cold
"Long-range forecasters warn that Britain could be crippled by a record-breaking and historical big freeze this winter," predicted the Daily Express last November. So it came as something of a surprise to read – in the middle of that "big freeze" – the following in the Daily Mail: "The first signs of spring are showing up way ahead of schedule thanks to the mild winter. Daffodils are flowering, trees are in bud, etc …" Before the ink had dried on that one, last week the same paper ran a double-page spread headlined "Wettest January in 100 Years". Perhaps they should all leave the weather forecasting to Michael Fish.
Everyone likes a good deal, but it seems the popularity of group-purchasing websites is taking its toll on yoga classes in the United States. It's been dubbed "the Groupon Effect". "Group purchasing is spoiling people to expect to pay little to nothing for services," reports the Knotty Yoga website. "This ultimately drives prices down and devalues everything. The net result is studios shut down, teachers make less and [there is] less investment in the industry." The article, "How Groupon is Killing Yoga", says this trend shows no sign of abating. It's the downward dog spiral.
Villain of the week
Aw, bless cuddly old Jim Davidson. What a nice man he seemed to be as young viewers voted in their thousands to crown him the winner of this year's Celebrity Big Brother. A quick look at Davidson's Wikipedia page might have changed their minds, with "Controversies" taking up the bulk of the entry. And even if many of the allegations against him (homophobia, refusing to perform in front of people in wheelchairs, racism and so on) have been mis-reported over the years, there is still this entry from his 1993 autobiography on accusations of wife-beating: "We're like a couple of boxers. On the first occasion, I poked her in the eye by accident. I actually went for the mouth. Thank heaven I missed. I'd have fallen in. The second time I gave her a shiner."
For no rhyme or reason
Another in an increasingly regular series of limericks based on recent events:
If off to the shops you must nip
Why not pep up that dull shopping trip
Even if you're not planning
To take stuff you're not scanning
You can serve yourself fresh from the skip