Brand Match – Great News!


Great news! The savings you’ve just made mean we aren’t going to give you any free money.

The checkout operatives in Sainsbury’s always seem quite delighted for me that my shopping is 16p cheaper than if I’d chosen the same things in Tesco.

This delight is echoed in a Brand Match “great news!” ticket whose fundamental message is that, because of the vast savings I’ve made, they aren’t going to give me any free cash.

This doesn’t feel like the ‘great news!’ I was hoping for. I’d rather have some money. Although a voucher for £0.01 is unlikely to see me rushing back in gratitude.

Even if the news is less ‘great’, and they’re grumpily shelling out a couple of quid, there’s further bad news in that they’re not just going to knock it off the price, they’re going to make me come back again and try my luck on a future occasion. As long as I (i) remember the bit of paper and (ii) remember to come back before the expiry date has passed.

Brand match gives the illusion of low prices by conveniently forgetting the fact that I wouldn’t have chosen most of the items in my basket if they hadn’t all been suspiciously reduced from somewhere north of implausible to within a couple of pence of what the price was last time I wasn’t scandalised by them.

My six quid “saving” on an otherwise ludicrously (and temporarily) overpriced litre of washing liquid would be offset by the fact that in Tesco I’d have gone for the half price sausages instead.

Supermarkets are now falling over themselves to pretend that they’re cheaper than other places, matching brands and totally incomparable own-brands and offering a 10% discount if they fail to be any cheaper, when the only honest thing to do would be to match the price of every individual item rather than the basket as a whole.

So Brand Match isn’t a thing. It should be called ‘aggregated non-comparable trolley cost match’ and they should stop pretending that no news is good news. It’d be much more convenient all round if they’d just knock the money off there and then, or make use of Nectar rather than forcing me to carry around scraps of paper. Or maybe they could just operate as if in a competitive market, reducing prices in response to their competitors rather than using price lists to draw up ever more untrustworthy claims about how much cheaper everything is.



Comfort Parking


Cars and people are getting fatter and stupider, giving rise to the phenomenon of ‘comfort parking’.

Why wouldn’t you have a car so big that you can’t fit it into a regular parking space? A vehicle so huge that its corpulent owner can’t squeeze between the door and the car next door? A car so wide that it renders all but the most skilful driver incapable of actually leaving it in any of the usual places?

Rather than taking the sensible option of, say, not buying a car on steroids that they can’t control, the inept driver’s usual response to the dawning realisation that their choice of car doesn’t fit is to simply take up two parking spaces, parking across the line at a jaunty angle so that it looks a bit like a clumsy parking accident.

Rather than enforce sensible CCTV-based stupidity penalties, the supermarkets have responded by introducing “comfort parking” – spaces for fat people, fat cars, those that are inept at parking, or combinations of people and cars falling in an unfortunate Venn diagram intersection of any of these.

Having done this, they then introduced “compact parking” for people with tiny cars, a seemingly unnecessary development since those with really small cars could presumably park in a regular space or in the trolley park.

They needn’t have bothered. Compact parking spaces are now straddled almost exclusively by cars on steroids. Because despite the fact that we’ve broken the planet, the clear direction of travel is in a really really massive car.

OMG check this link you’ll NEVER believe what happens next…


Something tells me that link you’re about to click won’t live up to the promise.

The latest trend in upworthily mashable clickbait is to make outlandish claims about things you definitely won’t believe.

What transpires is usually a video of some fat American falling over, or perhaps an old person rapping.

You can’t believe you clicked that thing you were promised you wouldn’t believe.

In this case, you’ve found some boring text and a photo of some people eating ice cream. Bravo. Better get that shared.

On “National Television”


The single biggest faux pas you can make is to say something awful. On ‘National Television’.

No matter how extensive the indignities suffered by Big Brother contestants, their every indiscretion broadcast to the nation around the clock, the one thing that unites them is that, at some point in the series, one of them will have a dazzling moment of clarity and express a view that they can’t believe they just did that thing they just did. On. National. Television.

The last time I checked, pretty much all television is broadly national, other than for the dreary 30 minute slots the BBC is forced to devote to coverage of pot holes and bus routes, that masquerades as local news under the terms of its charter.

Yet National Television is the official standard for broadcast situations in which you shouldn’t do things.

I’d probably be more embarrassed appearing on a Look North vox pop proffering my ill-informed views about whatever flimsy subject they’ve wheeled out a camera for – usually over-taxed pasties or Should That Car Park Be Demolished? – than I would making an utterly drunken arse-flashing mess of myself on Channel 4. At least one way lies entry-level notoriety.

A more pressing point, in the case of most of the people who put themselves forward for the nation’s major industry of talent show attendance and general twattery, is why they’re on television of any kind.

Given the diversification of TV audiences amongst all those channels that bored people watch on Sky, it’s probably more of a surprise that more people aren’t ashamed of having destroyed themselves “on National Twitter”.

Metres squared


Coming from the say-what-you-see school of mathematical understanding, ‘metres squared’ is not a thing.

Same with ‘centimetres squared’ really. Also not a thing, more a very literal reading of the mathematical notation which is easily fixed by kind of putting the words the right way around.

No one ever wanders into Homebase and asks for ’14 feet squared of paving’. They can manage the correct word order for imperial, but not metric, measurements. Perhaps because, having been in constant use in British schools for well over 40 years, metric is still scary and new.

As with everything, I blame teachers. Yeah, blame them.