Low salt and sugar ketchup – whatever next?
PUBLISHED: 09:53 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:53 17 July 2017
A fish and chip supper with a bonus giant bottle of diet Coke free from the chippie in the company of good friends was a treat on a sultry summer’s night with not too many bitey insects about. It is a scene unchanged over the decades. At times like this, life is good.
Subtle differences have crept in over those years, of course. A new addition to the supper table is ketchup with reduced sugar and salt. I had to face the difficult decision of whether to risk vinegar and thus heartburn or try the healthier tomato sauce. I chose neither and decided to live dangerously with the full sugar, full salt ketchup I love. Let’s face it, I already had a plate piled high with large deep-fried cod and chips and a slab of white bread. The damage was likely to be already done. Just to compound matters, I ground a little rock salt on to my chips.
But apart from the increased range of condiments available in 2017, you could barely see the join between then and now. Richard and Judith were telling us about going to the recent Phil Collins concert on Hyde Park. It really could have been the Eighties except, now we’re older, none of us is afraid any more. When someone decided to stand directly in front of Judith, obscuring her view, she tapped them on the shoulder and asked them to move, mentioning her priority ticket... come to think of it, she would have done that in the 80s too.
But I think I am braver now than I was. I am certainly more inclined to complain and have found the iPhone a real boon in the area of fresh foods. If something goes off too quickly or a piece of fruit in a pack is already mouldy when I get it home, I take a picture of it to show the customer services people. This saves me from having to retain the offending item when it has become offensively smelly or has decomposed into a puddle. I always try to return it, though, employing copious quantities of kitchen foil and Stretch and Seal*.
I have always found supermarkets instantly apologise and offer a refund and then, because I’m British, I find it necessary to apologise too.
I prefix my explanation: “I’m ever so sorry,” before continuing, “But this pack of bacon is off.” And then, having shown my receipt and received my money back, I apologise again: “Thank you... sorry to have been a bother. Thank you.”
I have always been prompt to apologise. If someone barges into me: “I’m so sorry.” If I walk into a lamppost: “Sorry.” Going through airport security I always feel guilty... even though I am a blameless traveller. It is almost a relief when my artificial knee sets off the metal detector and I get frisked.
Effective complaining is a real skill. I have one friend who is at her most eloquently scary when on the phone to anyone she feels has fallen short of her high expectations when it comes to the delivery of goods and services. I have heard her in action over the telephone and been so terrified, I almost gave her the money back myself.
I try to learn from the best. I am in awe of those who have the nerve to challenge motorists who position their vehicles over the marker lines in car parks, thus taking up two spaces. I’m far too timid. I don’t want to invoke parking rage, which I have seen in action... often in the area reserved for those with blue badges.
“You don’t look disabled,” a man challenged a younger man as I scurried past with my trolley, trying to be invisible.
People get so angry, don’t they? At times like this, life isn’t so good.
• Angelic Wil, aged two: “I got magic watch. It tell me where to go.”
Daddy: “Where is your magic watch telling you to go?”
This is the little boy who is currently the despair of his parents having scribbled on the new leather sofa in Biro.
* For younger readers who may have been confused by the reference to Stretch and Seal, this is what we older people used to call cling film. It is not a surgical aid.