In many ways, particularly at meal times, Jamie Oliver gets my vote. If you're hungry and it's almost pay day and the only vegetable left in Tesco is a rock-hard butternut squash, you can do a lot worse than make his Party Squash Soup (get the recipe for free from his website).
I believe in his salad-tossing policy, which is to use your hands rather than spoons; it's a much better way to coat every leaf with dressing. I like the way he adds chilli to everything. His pizza dough recipe really works. This month I've also enjoyed his globe-hopping, Floyd-nodding new travelogue, Jamie Does ... Even the Americans are finally giving in to his estuarine charisma, after a shaky start. Last Friday, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, the US version of his campaigning shows to get deprived communities eating more healthily, was the most watched programme on American television.
So I was feeling quite pro-Jamie when he popped up on Sky News on Wednesday night, to talk about politics with toadlike anchor Adam Boulton. "So, does Jamie Do Elections?" barked Boulton. "I'm apolitical," started Jamie, which must have come as a surprise to the residents of Rotherham. "I use my celebrity to make trouble."
Looking a little grumpy, but not at all shame-faced, he admitted that he felt "voting was like religion" in that it was "private" and that, in fact, he hadn't voted at all in the last two elections. Would he vote this time? "Not sure..." he groaned. And anyway, "all the [parties] know me," so his continued influence is assured.
It was, personally and democratically, a disappointing moment. Even a youthful, apparently non-Establishment campaigner thinks that there's no need to vote. After all, he'll be able to push his agenda with whoever ends up in 10 Downing St. Any prole can vote; only the truly privileged don't need to. It was recently revealed that Jamie and Jools Oliver's wealth has increased from £40m in 2009 to £65m this year – and that he's now one of the nation's top 25 philanthropists. With altruism and fame comes power. Jamie Oliver doesn't need to make a mere cross on a ballot paper.
It was a pity if only because there are still millions of young, unregistered voters out there, despite the last-minute rush to download registration forms from the Electoral Commission's website. Jamie Oliver's lack of interest in his democratic duty doesn't bode well for those who hope that youthful turnout will bring change. In an election campaign during which celebrities have been uncharacteristically low key, which role models will encourage apathetic first-timers to turn out, apart from Nick Clegg himself?
Today I spotted on my Facebook feed a 125,000-strong group called We Got Rage Against The Machine to No 1, We Can Get the Lib Dems into Office! Kids, it doesn't work like that. Jamie might be too rich to vote, but in real life democracy is not simply joining a Facebook group and hoping for the best.
BBC taxi habit that takes us for a ride
Yes, it looks bad. The BBC's director of television, Jana Bennett, claimed £4,862 in cab receipts in a three-month period. But have a heart. Addiction to travel by taxi is more difficult to shake than a crack cocaine habit, especially if (and it's a big, golden if) you're not paying for it yourself. In this case, of course, we licence-fee payers picked up Jane's bills.
Still, I do sympathise. A taxi – particularly a shiny, expensive London black cab – is a lovely thing. It is quicker than walking. It's less bother than taking five minutes to work out that if you've got a lot of journeys to make in a city, it might be more efficient to hire a driver.
Taxis also allow you to multi-task. They give you an extra few moments to make a phone call, as Bennett's spokesperson says: "Whenever she is travelling to meetings, she will schedule in a number of business calls to make the best use of this travel time. Because of the confidential nature of these discussions, it is not possible to hold them in public."
Never mind that cabbie is lapping up every word about (let's fantasise for a moment) Bruce Forsyth's ludicrous holiday entitlement or what the hell we're going to do about Stephanie Flanders not being on speakers with the make-up department. Taxis just creep into your life – if you let them.
The fact is that it's not necessary to cab everywhere, every day. It's a bad habit. Before you know it, a luxury feels like a necessity, at which point it stops feeling pleasant and you may as well get out and walk.
Just play the game
My Nintendo DS won't make me clever. This is the shocking revelation of research for a BBC documentary that tested more than 11,000 people over six weeks. And there I was, feeling quite superior as I jabbed away at the little touchscreen gizmo, while my other half read a nourishing book (bah!).
It turns out memorising the position of a pizza in Chef Memory is not a transferable skill. Of course it isn't. I don't think that Mario Kart makes me better at driving. The issue here perhaps is why the games industry decided to give some consumers a guilt trip about having good, clean escapist fun, by turning gaming into work. They might argue they were giving customers – particularly women and older gamers – what they wanted. Forget the clever stuff. Let's use consoles to escape monotony, have fun, kill time and perhaps even destroy some enemy combatants.Reuse content