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Why bother?

I know I am running the risk of sounding like a smug brat, but I kinda told ya so. Really, I did. For years I have been bringing in my own lunch to work while my friends and colleagues have been spending seven, eight, nine pounds a day on lunch from high street sandwich shops such as Starbucks, Nero, Pure and Pret.

Silly them, I have silently thought. What a waste of money. Why not make something just as good (or if you’re a culinary whizz like me, much better) at home for half the price?

But at last, the penny has dropped. According to the latest data from the analysts at Kantar, 108 million more packed lunches have been made in the past year, a 7 per cent increase year on year. The trade magazine The Grocer says that the recent lunchbox converts are top-earning office workers and professionals spurred on by the cost of living crisis, and if City folk are forgoing their lunchtime salad, you know times are tough.

No, not why bother making at home. But why bother making rubbish like salads?

Last time I actually worked in an office I used to loiter at the supermarket butcher’s counter on the way home (25 minute walk across London, time to stop for a couple of pints etc). Then buy whatever they were clearing out. Always was something. Which, while dinner was cooking would also be cooked off. On the way into work next morning buy fresh bread.

Proper sarnies therefore. Steak sarnies, chicken tit, real hamburgers made of identifiable animal…..if you’re going to do it then do it right.

Invest a little in pot of mustard, HP etc in the bottom drawer at work…..

35 thoughts on “Why bother?”

  1. I always liked people with salads whenever I was let loose in an office.

    You could eat proper food at them, for which they were properly Offended. Nice break from the eternal tedium and not-quite-backstabbing.

  2. Ship goes aground, Captain gets court martialled. But teh CM is an inquiry as in to what happened.

  3. “what do reckon the back story was”

    He went to school with the right people, and knew all their secrets?

    ‘Look here Taylor, this really isn’t on, we’re going to have to bust you down to Midshipman and you’ll never command anything afloat again’

    ‘If you say so Squiffy. I say do you remember that time at Charterhouse when you got caught in flagrante with the Headmaster’s dog and Matron’s vacuum cleaner, while dressed in stockings and suspenders? Rum old do that wasn’t it?’

    ‘Maybe running aground for the 3rd time wasn’t really your fault. How about a bigger ship this time?’

  4. Not quite what I meant, Tim. Some people do seem to live “charmed lives’.
    But on the subject:
    friends and colleagues have been spending seven, eight, nine pounds a day on lunch from high street sandwich shops such as Starbucks, Nero, Pure and Pret.
    Knowing office workers, I can imagine there may be a lot going on there that’s “important” than just eating. The name on the bag it came in? No doubt if they’re bringing in ‘lunchboxes’ it will be important to demonstrate the contents.
    Seems to be a rule. When journalists write articles like this they write about a tiny section of the public. People like them. It wasn’t going to be about bacon butties from the caff or sarnies from Greggs was it?

  5. I never used to bother with lunch. Breakfast and dinner was all I needed.

    As for Capt Taylor, I’d guess that he was told to take risks and he took them. Of course you may care to argue that he was given stupid orders and he obeyed them.

  6. @boganboy
    Maybe it’s an observation that people in the public sector seem to be able to go from mistakes to disasters without it affecting their personal success. Or maybe just some people. Getting your destroyer run over by a tanker crossing shipping lanes in the Straits of Hormuz? They have radar & sonar on those things. And are supposed to have a lot of watchkeeping. Can you imagine a similar event in the Channel with a private boat? They’d hang the captain out to dry. How many people from a secondary mod would survive their navigation putting them on a Danish sandbank & in the Danish papers? Even if it wasn’t their fault they’d be looking for someone convenient to blame. Just how the world works. Mostly.

  7. Pangbourne, Jim. Some private school in Berkshire. Maybe favoured by naval types for boarding their offspring. I wouldn’t know. Parentage not mentioned.

  8. And of course there’s always the funny handshake brigade, or flotilla in this case.
    Not Dido Hawkins then?

  9. The college was founded by Sir Thomas Lane Devitt Bt. in 1917 as The Nautical College, Pangbourne with the purpose of training boys to become Merchant Navy officers. It became “Pangbourne College” in 1969 and while conforming to the general lines of a British independent boarding school, retains a distinctly nautical flavour; the pupils wear naval uniform.

    A trade school really…..Jeffrey Bernard went there if I’m recalling things right…..

  10. BiS

    Dido Harding you mean.
    She’s from Tim’s part of the world, I believe.

    A woman of infinite uselessness.

  11. I wondered who Dido Hawkins was. All google suggested was a lithograph of HMS Dido by George Hawkins from 1846.

  12. Doubt that it is the same one, but an HMS Dido was built on the beach just along from my house. She was a 28gun frigate.

    Anyway Dido Harding one of the finest examples of “how to fail your way to the top” that I can think of in the modern world ( another being Kamala Harris).

  13. Anyway Dido Harding one of the finest examples of “how to fail your way to the top” that I can think of in the modern world ( another being Kamala Harris).

    So was Dido so close to being a case of nominative determinism, or did she too get there on her back/knees (delete as appropriate)?

  14. Jeffrey Bernard went there if I’m recalling things right…..
    So it says in his biog. I actually knew him. No particular reason. Soho was my turf so used to bump into him in pubs, whatever. (Anyone else remember The Candybox?) Well enough to share the odd round. I think I might have known he was a journalist, but they weren’t exactly sparse on the ground. He was definitely amusing. It was only when I saw O’Tool’s Unwell I really worked out who he was. And I only saw that because we got free tickets.* Don’t think I’d seen him for years, then.

    *I just looked up the play in Wiki. That says the Old Vic was sold out. So HTF we get free tickets? Although it does say the stage show was filmed in front of a live audience. So maybe… There’s whole pages of my life gone missing in Central London Postal Districts

  15. I saw Jeffrey Bernard is unwell too with OToole. My sister got tickets through her firm, I think.

    Absolutely hilarious. Royce Mills was in it too.Two scenes stick in the mind: Cat racing when the horses were snowed off and Valentine Dyall in bankruptcy court

    Judge – And how did you come to this sad state of affairs Mr Dyall ?

    Dyall – Three year old maiden handicaps, your honour.

  16. They always have to make a fuss about things don’t they?

    If you can afford to spend “seven, eight, nine pounds a day” on lunch, why not? It’s not going to tip you into penury. If you are saving up for a flat, you’ll want that cash in the bank. If you begrudge the expense, fair enough, get batch cooking on Sunday night.

    I confess I rarely bothered bringing lunch in. Tons of options in central London and I always had one or two work lunches a week too.

  17. BiS: I thought Hawkins was your joke of a naval variety, he being a pirate and an admiral to boot in Elizabethan times.

    The other Queen of the Upward Failers is, of course, Frau Ursula.

  18. 7 or 8 beer tokens wll get me a reasonable meal from one of the street food vendors near my office. Since that is probably cheaper in the long run compared to the time and money I’d spend prepping and cooking myself a meal of the evening (plus clearing up afterwards) I’ll spend my cash with them and save the sarnie for when I get home.

  19. @Clarrisa. I’ve been doing that for the last 6 months as I now work in the centre of Manchester have access to loads of great cafes, stalls, and takeaways. Only issue was the wife. She preferred to share a meal with me in the evenings. So I’ve had to stop having the sarnie in the evening and have it at lunch instead. Does mean I spend more time taking my camera out. You can see some of my photos here ->

  20. @SadButMadLad Back in the day mum used to eat with us kids and dad would join us with his sarnie if he was home in time (obviously this became more likely as we got older). He’d stopped being a regular commuter by the time we’d flown the nest so they went back to eating together in the evening without any issue (also meant mum didn’t have to cook).

  21. Talking of food, I’ve done my annual update of my notoriously stingy food accounts:
    2013-2014 £26.11pw
    2014-2015 £17.52pw -32.9%
    2015-2016 £20.42pw +16.5%
    2016-2017 £26.13pw +28.0%
    2017-2018 £20.28pw -22.4%
    2018-2019 £24.50pw +20.8%
    2019-2020 £24.73pw +0.9%
    2020-2021 £21.18pw -14.3%
    2021-2022 £23.32pw +10.1%
    2022-2023 £27.98pw +20.0%

    Inflation? What inflation? I’m spending the same as I was ten years ago.

    Yeah, I know, “I spend more than that on the bread roll I use to mop up the gravy from the first course in the restaurant”, etc.

  22. Impressive thrift, JGH. I have questions though…. Do the numbers above include eating out or drinking at home? Are you a vegetarian? Do you raise/grow any of your own stuff?

    Seriously, you ought to write a book.

  23. Otto @ 1.36, another one is Ursula Von Der Leyen, Sleepy Joe’s (I know, I know, Obama’s) pick to steer NATO through the upcoming nuclear conflict with the Russkies (soon, according to Kim Dotcom).

  24. An extremely good, warts-and-all read about Jeffrey Bernard and his times, even if the author can’t spell Piggott or benefited:

    And this is perceptive, writing of Bernard’s death in 1997:

    “Looking back, Bernard chose a good moment to leave. It was one second to midnight in an analogue world that had endured for centuries.”

  25. I’ve long believed that the Greatest Decade was the one between March 1987, when Nigel Lawson, God bless you, sir, abolished the on-course betting tax, and 1997, when Blairism and the internet conspired to end that world for ever. That world of cheap accommodation, abolition of taxes (abolition, note, not replacement or restructuring) and generally being left alone to do your own thing.

  26. Addolff

    Depressing innit ? I guess they need someone so useless that she’ll make China Joe look good. The thing that really worried ,me is that I believe that the Yanks actually fancy their chances.

    Paul Somerset 100% agree. It was a time when things seemed “to work”.

  27. @ Paul, Somerset
    You may be right but 1953-63 *felt* better as things were getting progressively better. GDP rose by *over 50%* between 1952 and 1964; slums were cleared and in the early ’60s the MacMillan government introduced the Parker-Morris standards for new council houses because we no longer needed to worry about quantity and could concentrate on quality, rationing was abolished as there was enough food for everyone …

  28. I’ve long thought that the late 90s were the epitome of engineering. A point when computer controlled production methods had allowed better quality and lower prices, but before the computers started being put into the products themselves. Post 2000 everything is increasingly a mass of cheap sensors, chips and wiring, that constantly go wrong, pre 2000 it was mechanical engineering made to good tolerances by machines.

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