Charles Nevin: News from Elsewhere

In Lancashire they bake the finest meat pies, but in New Zealand they're buried in peas
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Happy Monday. I know you're really looking for the Sudoku, but a warm welcome nevertheless to the column that, among other things, ceaselessly patrols the super information byways in the hope of coming across something or other that will, as you embark on another challenging week of thrusting crust-earning, make you pause, ponder and say softly to yourself, as we do all the time in Lancashire: "Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs!" And I'll try to think of something to do with numbers as well, if you like.

Happy Monday. I know you're really looking for the Sudoku, but a warm welcome nevertheless to the column that, among other things, ceaselessly patrols the super information byways in the hope of coming across something or other that will, as you embark on another challenging week of thrusting crust-earning, make you pause, ponder and say softly to yourself, as we do all the time in Lancashire: "Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs!" And I'll try to think of something to do with numbers as well, if you like.

Actually, I've always liked the one about the rowing boat attendant getting cross with a boat exceeding its time limit: "Number 61, Number 61, come in NOW please." No response. "Number 19, are you in trouble?" There was also the one involving a mystery voice reciting numbers, but that rather depends on you knowing the old Player's cigarettes slogan, "It's the tobacco that counts".

What else? Well, fresh research on an ancient piece of papyrus found on an Egyptian rubbish dump in 1895 suggests the number of the beast, as revealed in Revelations, is not 666, but 616. 616: not got quite the same ring, has it? Still, not good news for the Nokia 616, I should have said. What was your hotel room number again? And, if you're currently travelling toward Wigan from Whelley, I'd get off at the next bus stop and change to a 615.

Did you know, by the way, that Wigan is to get its own version of Monopoly, with a meat pie as one of the symbols?

Now, I've nothing against Wigan pies, but there are other good Lancashire pies, you know. Pimblett's Pies, in St Helens, for example: their meat and potato is the finest I've tasted, except that, because of EU regulations on portion proportion, they've got to be called potato and meat pies now. And Holland's, of course, baked the world's most travelled pie, owned by Mr and Mr Johnson of Bacup. Mr Pie, as he is known, has been up the Eiffel Tower and visited Las Vegas five times. He has, and much more besides.

There are people who think M. Eiffel was inspired by a trip to Blackpool; the truth, I am narrowly compelled to concede, is that the dates are slightly against it, in that the Eiffel Tower was built first. The young Sigmund Freud visited, though, although it is not recorded if he went on the ghost train, or the donkeys, which, I notice, have just been awarded a statutory lunch break by Blackpool Council. They have. No carrots, I imagine.

Peas, though, are an excellent accompaniment to a pie. I'm not sure that Mr Pie has visited New Zealand, where last week a teenager forced a container open and was buried in an avalanche of peas. Had to be freed by a forklift truck.

Teenagers, eh? They do tend to get it in the neck a bit, don't they? Yes but, no but, they do. Turn that down, take that off, find yourself something to do, leave our shopping centre forthwith, that sort of thing. I know a pub with a sign reading, "Quick, ask a teenager now while they still know everything". No wonder they think the world's against them.

And there's more evidence, also from Down Under. Another one, called Jonathan, had to spend 45 minutes stuck in a rubbish bin in Melbourne last week with his head jammed at the bottom and his legs sticking out of the top, waving. Yes, but he'd had a few drinks, but no, but his friends shouldn't have thrown it in there in the first place, should they? Emergency services, again, I'm afraid.

Fad for feta

Cheese: now there's a food that, by contrast with, say, pies, is not a shameless publicity seeker. There was De Gaulle's remark about the difficulty of uniting a country with 265 different kinds, but that has been about it. Suddenly, though, everyone in Europe seems highly excited about the essential Greekness of feta. The Danes and the Germans want to make it as well. They'll be after our potato and meat pies next.

I know for a fact that the Cypriots import mushy peas. I also know Britain has more than 265 different kinds of cheese. Interestingly, too, Goran Persson, the Swedish Prime Minister, eats cheese to relieve stress. More as I have it.

Do cats like cheese? I only mention it as a way of going over to Rome, where it's still not clear whether the new Pope has two, one or no cats. At least it's not 6, 1, or, er, 6. Quick, a cat joke: One's watching Wimbledon, and says: "My dad's in that racquet". Yes, quite old. Younger readers: they used to be made from catgut.

It's not just being a teenager that's tough, you know. I see, too, that papal car auctions are getting almost as popular as Sudoku. The new Pope's old VW fetched £130,000 the other week; now the last one's 30-year-old Ford Escort is expected to fetch £2.5m. The Pope. A Ford Escort. Well, etc, again. Skullcap rather than mitre, I should have thought. Sorry? The number plate? Don't tempt me. Oh, all right then: VAT 69. Thanks, Dad.

Comments