Rhodri Marsden: Why you can't make a meal from a packet of ready salted

Life on Marsden
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The Independent Online

"Would you like to upgrade that to a Meal Deal?" It's a question that makes me sigh and yearn for simpler days when we hunted and gathered, made coarsely woven baskets and spent evenings marvelling at flint.

I regard Meal Deals as point-of-sale bullying. It's like insisting I take out a five-year extended warranty on a biro, or persuading me to "upgrade" my bank account to one where I have to pay a monthly fee, or doorstepping me to ask if I was aware what a friend I have in Jesus.

Full marks for trying, but I've already got a friend in Keith, who may not be as famous as Jesus, but calls me a lot more often.

Anyway, I sometimes buy a sandwich and a drink from a local shop where the staff are Meal Deal evangelists. This particular deal involves forking out 10p extra for a packet of crisps that would set me back 60p under normal circumstances. But I don't like crisps. I mean, I'll eat some if a bowlful are put on the table, because it's bad manners to pick up the bowl and hurl it at the wall screaming: "I can't do this, Sandra, you can't make me!" But I've gone for years without buying crisps. They bring me no joy.

In my pleasure league table they rank alongside spatulas, moss and ratios.

Whenever I refuse this Meal Deal (which is every time) they look at me with a mixture of pity, disbelief and utter contempt.

"Are you sure?" they ask. "But it's only 10p more – and you get crisps," they say, almost conspiratorially, hinting at important inside information they have regarding crisp price points.

"No thanks," I say, curtly, at which point they ring up my purchase with a raised eyebrow, probably imagining that my spendthrift attitude extends to burning used fivers for kicks or subscribing to Sky 3D. But I just don't like crisps very much.

Even if I did, I don't believe that crisps can miraculously transform a sandwich and a drink into a meal. If a Meal Deal doesn't involve the surprise addition of a roast turkey or a truckle of vegetables, it should be renamed Crisp Deal.

These kind of problems blight our nation and need solving urgently.

Which is why I would be honoured to have a chance to be your Member of Parliament.