James Complains About Seven Delicious Biscuits

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If you’re good at maths you will see seven biscuits in this picture. If you see eight then hang your head in shame.

 

I enjoy a good biscuit as much as anyone. Pre-pandemic, when I used to have to attend meetings in person, I always felt slightly less hostile towards the meeting organiser if there were biscuits available. Not that biscuits could ever truly redeem any meeting, but when they were available they could help to ease the pain a little.

And while I would never actively encourage visitors to Chez Proclaims, you can be assured that if you manage to dupe me into allowing you past the threshold of my house, then I will provide you with a biscuit. And it will be a nice biscuit. Something from the ‘Tesco’s Finest’ or ‘Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference’ range. Or maybe, if I’m feeling particularly generous, it could even be an offering from Marks and Spencer.

But probably not from Waitrose. Not any more. Not after what they did.

“But James”, I hear you cry, “surely Waitrose do some very nice biscuits?”

Oh yes dear reader. Waitrose do some exceptionally nice biscuits. Some of the best I’ve ever tasted. But you shall not find them in my house.

“But what have you got against Waitrose?” I hear you plaintively protest.

I have nothing against Waitrose. I like shopping there. Even during the pandemic, when going to the supermarket has often felt akin to diving for treasure in shark-infested crocodiles, only to find that someone has already taken the treasure and left some weird lentil-based pasta twirls in it’s place, I haven’t hated shopping in Waitrose. Apart from the cost, because it’s a little more expensive than other supermarkets. But I do like a lot of the stuff they sell, in spite of the mild inconvenience of not really being able to afford it.

But let’s get back to my problem with the biscuits.

It might seem like a little thing. I’m sure some people will call me petty. But those people would be wrong.

A few weeks ago I purchased a packet of chocolate-orange cookies. And they were absolutely delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were near enough biscuit nirvana.

The trouble was that they came in a packet of seven.

Seven!

What kind of inhuman monster sells biscuits in packs of seven?

OK, I’m sure I’ve already got the mathematicians on board, but it is possible that some people might be lost, so allow me to explain in greater depth, why I believe this be such a heinous crime.

Seven is far and away the worst quantity to sell biscuits in because seven is a prime number. It is only divisible by one and seven.

This means that if you buy a packet of seven biscuits, it’s impossible to share them evenly with anyone else unless you are sharing them with exactly six other people and you all have one solitary biscuit each. And when does that happen? How often are there exactly seven people in a room partaking in biscuit consumption? It’s quite a specific scenario. And if that ever does happen, then, as I said, everyone only gets one biscuit each. And surely no-one ever only wants one biscuit.

Any other scenario and you can’t divide the biscuits evenly. Someone will end up with more than everyone else. And I’m sure that marriages have broken down over less serious matters than ‘uneven biscuit distribution’.

The other option is to scoff the lot yourself. But whereas the smaller prime numbers, two, three and even five are acceptable numbers for solitary biscuit consumption (five I’ll concede is at the limit of acceptability but hardly hedonistic), seven biscuits is really too many for one person to eat on their own. Of course I could easily put away seven biscuits in one sitting, but I shouldn’t and I resent Waitrose for putting me in that position.

Biscuits should be sold in even numbers because then you can always share them with another person. I can, however, accept a packet of nine because that can at least be split three ways. Little Proclaims is too little to be given an equal share of the biscuits at the moment but one day I might be glad of a packet of biscuits offering a convenient three-way distribution.

Eleven or thirteen would also be quite bad quantities for biscuits to be sold in, but when you get to that amount then it’s surely implicit that you would need to save some for another day. And anyway, thirteen is permissible on the grounds of novelty value because it’s the traditional ‘baker’s dozen’, so it’s really twelve plus a bonus biscuit.

No, the worst number to sell biscuits in is seven.

And I am absolutely correct to be angry about this.

 

 

 

 

 

James Explains Morality Amongst Other Things

James Explains

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Hello, and welcome to another James Explains, the regular feature on my blog where I answer the seemingly unanswerable. Remember, if you have a problem, if no-one else can help and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team. But if you just have a question and you can’t be bothered to Google the answer yourself, but you can be bothered to leave a question in the comments below, then maybe I’ll answer the question. For free. Which is definitely cheaper than the A-Team. Although if you lock me in a warehouse I won’t be able to fabricate a tank out of an old bathtub and bits of a bicycle. So really I‘m not in direct competition with the A-Team. We offer very different services. But we do both pity fools.

And so on with today’s questions and they are as follows:

Regular contributor Pete asks:

 What was the name of the first vegan aardvark and why was it significant in helping to explain Pythagoras’ theorem?

Phew, Pete, that is quite a question. At first I thought this was a trick question and that there was really some sort of link between aardvarks, veganism and Pythagoras. So I Googled all those things and found nothing obvious. Although interestingly there is a suggestion that Pythagoras was actually vegetarian and indeed in the days of yore, before the term ’vegetarian’ was widely accepted as the way to describe that particular lifestyle choice, people referred to themselves as being Pythagorean. Obviously that might not be true at all, I haven’t taken the time and trouble of verifying my source for that particular claim, but I quite like it so I’m going to choose to believe it. I couldn’t find much to do with aardvarks though, so instead here are some pictures of some well known anthropomorphic aardvarks who might well be vegans (although the blue one is only so because he consistently fails to catch the anthropomorphic ant that he wants to eat) and who probably understand Pythagoras’ theorem quite well. Take your pick:

Image result for arthur aardvark

Related image

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Next up, first time contributor Suze asks:

If electricity comes from electrons…does morality come from morons?

At first glance the answer would seem to be a definitive yes. But that, alas, is not how language works. Although it is fair to say that both electricity and morality are dangerous things in the hands of the wrong people.

I’m not sure morality is solely the purview of morons, it’s probably not a bad idea for all of us to live by some kind of moral compass. However, where morality and moronity often cross paths is when someone insists on inflexibly imposing their own moral code on others, without any acknowledgement of the subjective nature of morality.

So in a way, yes, morality does often come from morons and like electricity morality can sometimes be shocking and unpleasant. But equally, used in the right way, like electricity, morality can also be illuminating.

Another regular contributor of questions, Haylee asks:

How do you keep finding such interesting flavours for biscuits? You must live in the centre of the biscuit universe!

Now to be fair, Haylee was not asking this question in the context of requiring an answer on ‘James Explains’ but merely asking a rhetorical question in light of the fact that I have mentioned various biscuits on these pages that she hasn’t come across despite living in the same country as me. However, in the absence of any other questions this week I am going to answer Haylee’s question.

Alas I don’t live in the centre of the biscuit universe, although that does remain a lifelong ambition, but I feel my my consumption of interesting biscuits has a disappointingly simple explanation. While it’s possible that the disparity of our biscuit experiences could possibly be explained by the fact that Haylee lives in the north of these fair isles and I live in the south, when it comes to groceries, regional differences are increasingly a thing of the past. Mostly I buy my biscuits in major supermarket chains which exist throughout the UK. But it is fair to say that I am a fan of novelty and whenever a limited edition or seasonal product is made available, I will often purchase it in lieu of more regularly available items and in the field of biscuits I employ this strategy almost exclusively. This can pay dividends and I have enjoyed some delightful cookies, wafers and shortbreads over the years. It can also go awry however – for example my biscuit tin currently contains some banoffee caramel digestives which are nowhere near as nice as I thought they’d be. I’m going to have to go back to the tried and tested realm of the chocolate hobnob for a week or so just to get over them. But once I’ve recovered I’ll be back in search of more avant-garde garibaldis.

And that’s it for this week’s questions, but before I go and while we’re on the subject of biscuits, I must just address one linguistic point that was brought to my attention by a friend of mine in relation to last week’s ‘James Explains’.

Last week, I made reference to the greatest of all the biscuits, the noble Jammie Dodger, and claimed that they are manufactured in Wales. My friend took umbrage with my use of the word ‘manufacture’ in relation to biscuits, claiming that the word ‘manufacture’ should really only be used in relation to the production of cars and the like, and I should have said that Jammie Dodgers are ‘produced’ or simply ‘made’ in Wales. And he may have a point. But I would argue that while convention might dictate that ‘manufacture’ is implicitly linked to larger mass produced items such as cars, biscuits too are made on a large scale using machinery so my use of the word ‘manufacture’ was not technically incorrect and only a true pedant would pick me up for it. That said, I’ve always felt that pedantry was an admirable quality in anyone so I apologise to my friend if my linguistic choices offended him but as I am also quite the pedant, I will also insist that I was absolutely correct in my use of the word ‘manufacture’.

So I hope that settles that.

And if you’d like me to ‘manufacture’ some answers to your unanswerable questions for next week, then please leave them in the comments below.

 

Scraping The Barrel

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Is there any problem in the world that can’t be solved by a nice biscuit? Maybe a Chocolate-covered Digestive, or perhaps a Jammy Dodger?

I mean obviously obesity.

It stands to reason that you aren’t going to solve obesity by eating Shortbread.

But, aside from that, is there any problem in the world that can’t be solved by taking time out to munch on a Malted Milk?

Ok, admittedly, it’s unlikely to solve some of the bigger world problems. The UK’s ignominious separation from Europe is still going to be mishandled by Tory infighting regardless of how many Oreos you stuff into your mouth and the septuagenarian toddler in the White House is still going to spout ridiculous, regressive rhetoric irrespective of your Hobnob consumption.

But on a personal level, is there any problem that can’t be overcome by eating Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Well yes.

Eating excessive Viennese Whirls is not going to make your job any more interesting, your bathroom any more decorated or your utility bills any lower.

Bourbons are certainly not going to finish that novel you’re trying to write.

Or start writing it for that matter.

Consuming Custard Creams, gorging on Garibaldis or polishing off Pink Wafers will not lead to long-term happiness.

But they do make a lovely addition to a cup of tea or coffee and may put a smile on your face for a few minutes.

Which is something.

Jaffa Cakes are nice too, but people are often unsure whether they are biscuits or cakes.

And the answer is clearly cakes.

The clue is in the name.

But regardless of that, they do the job of a biscuit well enough.

And whatever your biscuit of choice, or hot beverage for that matter, you should go and have one of each now.

It would be a better use of your time than reading this.

It might have been better for everyone had I not shifted myself away my own biscuit tin in order to write this banality.

But, for the sake of ongoing blog content, I decided to switch scraping a biscuit barrel for a metaphorical one.

I’m truly sorry.

Have a bourbon on me*.

*I won’t actually be providing the bourbons – you’ll have to buy those yourself. Feel free to switch to another biscuit of choice instead. But do have a biscuit. You’ll feel better for it. Unless that biscuit is a Rich Tea. Because seriously, what is the point of those?

Olympic Inspiration

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Watching Olympians
Achieving their feats
Can be inspirational
And truly motivational

Maybe in time
I’ll use this inspiration
To positive
Life-changing
Effect

I’ll pull on my trainers
And go for a run
Or pick up a racket
Or buy a new bike

I’ll train and I’ll enter
An endurance event
I’ll push myself hard
I’ll give it my best

I’ll be leaner and stronger
I’ll be fitter and faster
I’ll be pure self-improvement
I’ll be a much better me

But if I’m brutally honest
Watching back-to-back
Olympic coverage
All day and all night

Is serving to inspire
A compelling desire

To watch a lot more telly

Perhaps with a nice slice of cake

Jammy James

James Proclaims (4)

Once again I find myself to be the last person in the building as my colleagues have all departed for the day. Much paperwork to catch up on, and emails to reply to, have delayed my escape. The pain has been somewhat eased, however, upon inspection of the old ‘Celebrations’ tub from Christmas, that sits on top of the kitchen cupboard and now serves as a makeshift biscuit tin. To my delight, I found therein, the remaining spoils from Tuesday’s team meeting, which included but was not limited to, half a packet of Jammie Dodgers.

Alas (for my colleagues at least) they are no more…