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.

 

 

 

 

 

A Pun-ishing Eggs-ercise In Which I Shell Not Egg-Cell In Cracking Eggs-tremely Eggs-cellent Yolks

James Proclaims (4)

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If the title of the post has brought you to here in the eggs-pectation that I’ll be cracking lots of egg-based puns then I’m sorry to disappoint, but I won’t be.

Apart from in that sentence.

Which I admit, looks a little misleading as disclaimers go.

But, much as I enjoy a good egg-based pun it’s eggs-hausting trying to crowbar them into whatever I’m writing, so I’m not going to do any more.

But if you want to leave some in the comments then feel free.

The comments section of a blog is the place for egg-based humour.

I look forward to seeing you there.

In the meantime I must write about the elephant in the room.

Which is not an actual elephant.

I’ve done a whole post about an actual elephant in the room before. It was hilarious. You can read it now if you click on these words.

The elephant in this post is entirely metaphorical. For the elephant in this room is none-other than the noble Easter Egg.

I know Easter isn’t really about the giving and receiving of chocolate eggs and frankly the worldwide pandemic is causing bigger issues than whether or not I get to eat a chocolate egg or two today.

But I like an Easter Egg. It reminds me of when I was a child. And given that I have really struggled over the last forty-one years with the whole ‘growing-up’ malarkey, I need things like overpriced chocolate eggs to keep my, rather loud, inner child happy. Also I have a rather loud ‘outer’ child who lives in my house. She’s my daughter.

Although she’s still only twenty months old so she doesn’t much care about Easter Eggs yet.

I’m certain she’d like an Easter Egg if I gave her one, because she does like chocolate.

Or she claims to like chocolate.

I mean she does like actual chocolate, but she tends to refer to lots of things that aren’t chocolate as chocolate. She often uses  it as a synonym for things which look quite appealing to eat.

Sometimes it might be other nice things like gingerbread or cake.

But the other day I distinctly heard her refer to a stone she found in the garden as chocolate so I’m not sure her tastes are all that discerning yet.

But back to the eggs.

Often Mrs Proclaims and I will buy each other an Easter Egg. It’s one of many things we try to do to demonstrate that we like each other.

Which we do.

But in the current climate, we’re only supposed to go out to make essential purchases.

And it’s hard to argue that an Easter Egg is an essential purchase.

There were stories in the media about the police taking issue with certain shops who were selling Easter Eggs. It’s hard to imagine that could be down to the British media seizing on one or two incidents of slightly overzealous policing at a time of great confusion and uncertainty to provoke a reaction from an already bewildered and fearful public. That doesn’t sound like the British media at all…

Still, Easter Eggs have been on sale in the supermarkets, so, while it would seem irresponsible for Mrs Proclaims and I to have gone out specifically to buy them, I felt entirely justified in just shoving some into the trolley when I was braving Tesco for my essential weekly groceries recently.

There was an offer if you bought three so I bought three.

Which could be distributed evenly between my wife, my child and myself.

But, as discussed, Little Proclaims is really too young to have her own Easter Egg.

And if I’m honest, Mrs Proclaims didn’t desperately want one either.

So I may have purchased three largish chocolate eggs entirely for my own consumption.

Obviously my wife and daughter might have a bit of chocolate egg here and there to help me out.

But I’m going to be eating most of the chocolate myself.

On reflection, this may not have been a sensible purchase.

But the supermarkets are such stressful places these days.

So I think, by only getting three, I actually demonstrated great restraint.

And for the first time in a long time, there was plenty of toilet paper on the supermarket shelves this week, so if excessive chocolate consumption causes any undesirable effects, then I’m covered there too.

 

 

 

Don’t Panic!

James Proclaims (4)

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In these unusual times, you do start to reassess your values and priorities and begin to focus on what’s really important.

And for the people of Britain, what’s really important appears to be toilet paper. It’s one of the cornerstones of our national identity apparently.

I had eschewed the supermarkets in recent days but ventured forth last night and the situation regarding hand soap and the aforementioned loo roll still seems pretty bleak, and it’s concerning that this is still the case in what feels like quite a long time after restrictions were imposed on how much of this stuff you can actually buy in any one visit.

For now we’re holding out at Chez Proclaims, but I fear we will run out of these staples of British life long before the supermarkets are back to being adequately stocked. I might have to sneak into the school that employs me (which is still currently operating, seemingly for the benefit of one solitary student – a preposterous figure in it’s own right, but more so when you realise that in my school it translates to less than 0.1% of the entire student body) to steal some of the toilet paper from there if the situation doesn’t improve soon.

Fortunately food seems to be less of an issue. Milk seems a little problematic (how and why are people stockpiling milk? Surely it’ll go off long before it can be used? Unless people are taking up new hobbies in this time of social-distancing. Like making their own yogurt?) but we’ve been able to get what we need, and the rush on fruit and veg seems to have abated a little, so while tinned stuff seems hard to come by, there seem to be sufficient supplies of food to live off. And we never ate much tinned stuff before this all started so I’m not sure why I’d want to start now. Then again, the dire situation in the supermarkets might have been caused by panic-buying but those of us who didn’t join in are the ones who feel pretty stupid at the moment so maybe I should reassess my policy on tinned produce. In the interests of full disclosure, I did join in with the panic buying a little bit (not exactly a shock revelation given that I already wrote about doing just that in this post), but only insofar as I’d have enough stuff to last a potential two-week period of self-isolation and I’m going to run out of that stuff fairly soon, without showing the slightest hint that I might have COVID-19.

So it’s all a bit irritating really.

Particularly if I now get COVID-19.

Admittedly if I do get COVID-19, perhaps a lack of loo roll would not necessarily be my primary concern. But I imagine it would still be a bit of a concern.

On a positive note, the supermarket I did dare to venture into (along with Mini-Proclaims) was a Waitrose, (I just wasn’t brave enough for Aldi) and they have adopted a social-distancing policy of restricting the numbers of shoppers inside the store at any one time. It was mildly irritating to have to queue outside initially (and because the people in the queue were all standing the requisite two metres apart, I initially mistook them for slightly antisocial loiterers and tried to walk into the shop without queuing. The manager corrected my mistake with the exemplary courtesy that you’d expect of a Waitrose employee but it was mildly embarrassing until I observed several other shoppers make exactly the same mistake as me) but it didn’t take too long and then, once my daughter and I crossed the threshold, there were so few other people in there it really was the nirvana of shopping experiences.

Except for the lack of toilet paper obviously.

 

 

Becoming The Hero I Was Born To Be

James Proclaims (4)

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Despite the fact that we’re now all living in a world that is eerily reminiscent of the beginning of every Zombie movie ever, it’s nice to see that we British are displaying our usual ‘Dunkirk’ spirit.

Obviously I wasn’t around at the time of Dunkirk, and my historical knowledge may be a little sketchy here, but I assume that Dunkirk was the last time we ruthlessly and shamelessly elbowed each other out of the way in a desperate attempt to get to the last packet of loo roll on the shelf.

Many people are now ‘working’ from home. Sadly I am stuck ‘working’ in work, because I work in a school and schools, despite being notorious germ factories, are still open. In spite of the implication of the inverted commas in the last sentence, I am doing some work, but most of the kids are at home ‘self-isolating’ or ‘social distancing’ so they aren’t here and there is, therefore, rather less to do.

A lot of staff are also not here, and I could legitimately not be here, given that my asthma puts me into the category of the ‘most vulnerable’ and those of us in that category have been told we can go home. But my asthma is pretty well-controlled, and frankly it’s pretty easy to ‘social-distance’ yourself in a near-empty school so I’m still here.

Although I do ordinarily work with children on a day-to-day basis, it’s been years since I did any actual teaching and my main job is paperwork, meetings and managing other people. With all the meetings cancelled and rather fewer people to manage, I do now have time to focus on the massive pile of paperwork I’ve been ignoring for…

…well forever.

And I might even get some of it done.

But as my blog has been bereft of content in recent times, I thought I might also write this.

The current crisis doesn’t seem likely to end anytime soon so I imagine my blog might well experience a bit of a revival. It’s hardly a silver-lining to the particular cloud we’re under but possibly some might view it as an aluminium lining?

There aren’t too many obvious upsides to the Coronavirus epidemic. In one of my more frivolous moments I did wonder if, because it originated in bats, some of us might contract it and develop Bat-like superpowers. I could be a real life Batman.

Obviously mere moments after having that thought I was overcome with remorse and regret. How could I, in a time like this, allow myself to entertain such a stupid and juvenile idea?

I was so disgusted with myself that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.

Everyone knows that Batman doesn’t have the ‘powers of a bat’. Although he dresses up like a bat, his powers stem from being incredibly wealthy and presumably having some significant mental health issues.

In the unlikely event I were to establish bat-like superpowers as the result of contracting the coronavirus, it would be more akin to Man-Bat, a known adversary of Batman.

And no-one wants to be Man-Bat.

So I don’t think there are any upsides to COVID-19.

Except for the aforementioned Dunkirk spirit.

And I’ll need some of that, when I head off to the supermarket later to kick pensioners out of the way in my quest to get hold of some more pasta twirls.

A Very Cold Ape

James Proclaims (4)
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As is the norm of a Sunday night (which is when I’m writing this, though, in order to allow time for the proofreading that I almost certainly won’t do, it will not appear in the blogosphere until Monday morning) I am somewhat apprehensive about the working week ahead of me. There is nothing especially onerous about the week to come, beyond the whole ‘having to go to work’ thing, which has always been something of an aggravation to me.

In two weeks, I will be at the beginning of a glorious 6-week period of ‘not having to go to work’, which I am very much looking forward to. It’s the main reason I became a teacher in the first place.

I wish I was joking. It’s such a cliché to suggest that people become teachers because of the holidays and in my experience it generally isn’t true. Most of the colleagues I’ve encountered over the years have been people who see teaching as a vocation. They genuinely love what they do. I wish I was one of those people, but alas it was vacation not vocation that lured me into the profession.

Not that I’m bad at my job. Despite my relative indifference to the field in which I operate, I appear to be quite good at what I do, but if I could have the same holidays doing something else then I would definitely consider it.

Having 6 weeks off work every year might seem like a lot. And that’s because it is a lot. It’s brilliant.

But I still have to wait two weeks for that to kick in, so currently, like every other chump out there, my only reprieve from work is through weekends. One of which I’ve just had.

Weekends are ok. I’d rather have a weekend than not have a weekend, but they really are far too short.

I currently find myself at the denouement of this particular weekend wondering exactly where it went and what I managed to achieve.

And the answer appears to be ‘not much.’

I did eat a lot of ‘Cheeky Monkey’ ice-cream though.

No, that’s not a typo. I didn’t mean to write ‘Chunky Monkey’. Much as I enjoy Ben & Jerry’s, I was not eating their famous ‘primate-themed’ ice-cream. I was eating an ice-cream from a well-known discount supermarket, which was very clearly an homage to a renowned Ben & Jerry’s flavour. But weirdly, ‘Cheeky Monkey’ ice-cream is not a rip-off off ‘Chunky Monkey’. Instead it appears to be a tribute to the masterpiece of dessert-engineering that is ‘Phish Food’. Which is a little confusing.

The ice-cream in question was delicious and given that it was less than half the price of ‘Phish Food’ it was a very credible facsimile. But if you’re going to go to the trouble of producing an imitation of a celebrated ice-cream, it seems strange to give it a name that is very similar to a different well-known ice-cream.

And I had I been in the mood for ‘Chunky Monkey’ I might have been a tad disappointed.

Fortunately, like the responsible consumer I am, I read the label and knew exactly what kind of frozen treat I was purchasing.

So, no harm was done.

Except to my waistline.

And to be fair, that ship sailed a long time ago.

 

 

 

Super

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Where did Tess go?
I hear she’s doing quite well
Despite fears induced by a shift
In prices blamed on continental drift
But she returned home sans berries
Because now they’re too expensive
And she Asda make do with cheaper alternatives
And consider Aldi options
To make the most of her devalued pound
Cos every Lidl helps
But do we need more rice on?
I think Rose will just have to Wait
But what’s that over there?
Is it a bird?
Is it a plane?
No it’s just a big shop.
Is there anything ‘super’ about that?

An Awkward Encounter at the Deli Counter

James Proclaims (4)

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Saturday lunchtimes are often a conundrum for Mrs Proclaims and I. Most meal times are pretty regulated these days due to a highly efficient grocery-shopping schedule.

(That’s right I’ve opened a post with the phrase ‘highly efficient grocery-shopping schedule’. This one’s going to be roller coaster of a post…)

Essentially we get our groceries delivered every Sunday and Wednesday by a major supermarket. We do this because neither of us can be trusted to actually go to the supermarket and restrict ourselves to purchasing the stuff we need. Very often other stuff finds its way into the trolley. Stuff that is bad for us. Continue reading An Awkward Encounter at the Deli Counter

James Complains About Free Stuff

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Not actually free or indeed ‘the best things’…

It’s a popular maxim that ‘the best things in life are free’.

I’m less than convinced that’s the case.

I’m not sure that there’s much at all in life that’s actually free, let alone the best things.

In fact, so convinced am I that the best things in life aren’t free, that I actually did a bit of research prior to writing this particular diatribe.

Not too much research obviously, I wouldn’t want my usual ill-informed and meaningless stream of consciousness to be overly influenced by ‘facts’. Continue reading James Complains About Free Stuff