Dear Greggs: Forget bacon-scented candles, where's the black pudding?

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The Independent Online

Back to black

Last month, Greggs – the largest bakery chain in the UK – conducted a survey of more than 5,000 UK adults to find out what British people like to eat for breakfast.

The findings will surprise no one: bacon sandwiches, cereal, toast with Marmite/jam/cream cheese …. Alongside such revelations, the survey also contains the formula for the perfect fry-up (two pieces of bacon, one fried egg, one hash brown, two sausages, beans, tomato, toast).

With such findings unlikely to capture the public’s imagination, the company also decided to send out, along with copies of its “Big Breakfast Report”, a candle scented with a top note of bacon-sandwich. Cue various media outlets (most notably the Mirror), publishing whatever-next?-type news stories assuming that the candle was available to buy in branches of Greggs around the country. It isn’t.

So are there any revelations to be had from Greggs’ research? Over to Seb Emina, the man behind the website The London Review of Breakfasts and the book The Breakfast Bible. “The research is almost too vast to comment on!” he says, forlornly. “But I have to say that I’m deeply worried about the absence of black pudding in that perfect fry-up.”

Brace yourself!

It was a bracelet that finally broke the fashion pack’s back. On 14 May, as is the normal way of things, a PR acting for the British jewellery brand Dower & Hall sent out an email to publicise a “new collection of Orissa beaded bracelets”.

The press release was innocuous enough, the type media folk receive hundreds of each day, but within minutes the PR’s inbox bulged with passive-aggressive responses – all cc’d to her entire mailing list.

“Please delete me from this chain, I never signed up to this,” requested Diana Verde Nieto from Positive Luxury. “And me,” chipped in Grace Cook from the Financial Times. Even Roger Ogle from Swindon Link magazine felt impelled to get involved: “I don’t want to know about this product, or any other,” he stated. Only Viola Levy, the beauty editor of Glass magazine, saw fit to come to the PR’s defence: “Maybe the people here could reply individually. Slightly bullying to humiliate a PR again and again in front of her entire mailing list,” she pointed out.

“I was very upset that I caused so much irritation to so many people,” the PR in question, Amanda Ferrari, tells me: “It was lovely, however, that so many other people wrote separate messages of support at what was a rather stressful few hours. Everyone has an ‘It’ moment in their career, and this was mine!” This column has since asked to be added to Ferrari’s mailing list.

Celebrations derailed

Those of us with small children are no doubt aware that 2015 is the 70th birthday of Thomas the Tank Engine. One person who has not failed to notice is Newsnight’s economics correspondent Duncan Weldon, who last week wrote a blog post titled “The economics and politics of Thomas the Tank Engine”.

In it, Weldon – who has just become a father for the second time – muses on the ownership structure of the railway company: “I think it’s clear that it’s not a listed entity,” he begins, before exploring the possibilities that it is a stakeholder model at work, state held or privately owned.

But for all of his in-depth analysis, Weldon failed to notice the real scandal here. Because while The Railway Series of books by Rev Wilbert Awdry are indeed 70 this year, Thomas did not appear until the second book, published in 1946.

You’re hooked, Nigel

While the various political comings and goings were the hot topic of the week, for one old friend to this column, Kat Stiff, the recent reshuffles, resignations and resurrections were something of a mixed blessing.

Stiff, you might recall, runs a Brighton-based business called Snorkers Imaginarium, which produces and sells crocheted “voodoo” pin cushions of Nigel Farage and Michael Gove. “My pincushions have come from a personal place of anger,” Stiff tells me. “So when Gove got demoted or Farage failed to win a seat I was as relieved as everyone else of a sane disposition.”

But could their return (provisional in the case of Ukip’s leader), be good for business? “Let’s just say that I’m limbering up my fingers to crochet like never before,” she says.

Male order

We’ve had brondes, brinner, SamCam, Grexit and cockapoos. So it’s time for a new portmanteau and now we have one, thanks to the best Tumblr page you will see today, All Male Panels, which has coined the word “manel” to describe its endless photographs of conferences where all of the people on stage or making keynote speeches are men. Bravo.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

The actor who plays Mr Burns,

Says it’s not about how much he earns,

After 25 seasons,

It could be his reason’s,

The law of diminishing returns.