Busy Raising Hell

Yesterday, I was going to make a quick post around lunch time, stating that I hadn’t had much time to write over the last week. I google-image-searched the phrase ‘busy as hell’ to put a picture with the post, and the one above caught my eye. Not because it encapsulated the point I was trying to put across, but because it is a ludicrous picture.

Look at it. The picture is from an ad for a jacket costing $599. An incredibly tacky jacket at that. A cow came to an ignominious end for that gaudy piece of tat to be made. How embarrassing for the beast in question. And the message? Busy Raising Hell? By browsing in the supermarket? Hmm. Maybe she is shopping for ingredients for something from the Anarchist Cookbook? But roses and mouthwash? I don’t see it. Both of those things are useless products made desirable through marketing and social conditioning. Roses? Something to symbolise ‘love’, which will wilt and die just like the relationship built on empty gestures. Mouthwash? An invented solution for an invented medical problem. And the alcohol in mouthwash actually dries out your mouth, making your already fetid breath even worse.

So no, the person in the picture is not ‘busy raising hell’. She is busy, or at least passing the time, being a good little consumer, and advertising an overpriced and rather hideous item of clothing while at it. Is this what ‘raising hell’ has become? It’s not quite what springs to mind when I think of the phrase. The slogan on the jacket is yet another example of language abuse.

I, in the meantime, will be busy with a number of projects for the next couple of days. I’ll write when I get a chance again, perhaps when an intended one-sentence post turns into something slightly longer. Watch this space.

Advertisements

The World Outside of Social Media

Having deleted all my social media a couple of weeks ago, with the exception of the Facebook admin page used to share these posts, I have started using my time more productively. No more scrolling though an infinite news-feed, past promoted ads and clickbait headlines. The net result is that I’ve spent less time looking at screens. That can only be a good thing.

In relation to our use of social meida, there is a curiosity that I had noticed before, but am now more aware of. I have occasionally been in the mildly embarrassing social situation of somebody telling a third party about a piece that I had written, asking whether they had read it. I don’t mind when people wants to discuss or debate something I wrote, but it’s a bit awkward when an innocent bystander is brought into it. I felt the same way when I occasionally dabbled in music, and somebody else insisted on playing something we had recorded, asking somebody else to listen to it while I was there. Now that I think about it, I remember times in school when the teacher read out things that I had written. I felt like sinking down and disappearing below my desk. Attention grabbing was not for me.

But anyway, what I found curious is that many people said that hadn’t read my blog (that’s not the curious part) because they didn’t use Facebook. I know that people that come to this page do so when they see a link posted to Facebook, but obviously it’s not a Facebook page. What this tells me about the nature in which people consume information these days is largely through the lens of social media. So many of us go straight to Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook when we look at our phones, or go online on whatever device we use. And it is through these pages that we view so much of the online content we access, to the point that social media is conflated with the internet itself, when in fact social media is only a part of the web*. It seems now that even those who have given up social networks, or have never used them, see online user-generated content as something intrinsically linked to social media.

Anyway, if you visit this page regularly anyway, whether through Facebook, bookmarks, email notifications, or WordPress itself, thank you very much. If you like what you read, please comment, like, and share. I have much fewer followers now that I don’t have my own FB account (and only about a third of my contacts on my old account followed the blog page), so could do with a bit of help in sharing what I write. If you are a Facebook user, please consider ‘suggesting’ the page.

As always, thanks for reading.

 

*Doesn’t the phrase ‘the web’ sound so archaic now? Or is it just me?

Architecture of Aggression

Not only are our footpaths cluttered with bollards, rubbish, morons etc., but at times parts of the path are completely fenced off, narrowing the space for pedestrians even further. The latest such example of this I’ve noticed has been on Nassau St, since late last week. A planning permission notice had been put up on the building, and after couple of weeks, fencing placed in front of the closed shop fronts (pictured above), cutting off a sheltered overhang. A minor inconvenience for walkers, but there is something more sinister at play here.

Before the fencing was put up, four or five homeless people would sleep there every night; this spot offering a modicum of protection from the elements. Now this protection has been taken away from them. And to what end? It’s an empty building now, in which some renovations will be undertaken at a yet-undetermined point in the future. In the meantime, the developers have cynically cut off a tiny refuge for a handful of the country’s nearly 10,000 homeless. Granted that the fence is not the most robust, and there is a space above it which one could slip though when seeking shelter, but it is the principle of the thing. There is absolutely no good reason to fence and lock off this section of street. In fact, a small portion of it on the corner turning on to Dawson St is not blocked off, generously leaving space for a couple of sleeping bags. Most of the area has been taken away from rough sleepers however.

img_20190208_081506-1987132654.jpg

This is not the only example of such passive aggression towards the most marginalised people in our society. Many premises place metal studs in the ground outside their windows, other install motion-activated sprinklers systems to drive the homeless away. A particularly infamous example was that of the old, crumbling, abandoned motor tax office on Chancery Place. The building has been recently demolished, but sat empty for years before that. Homeless people used to use it for shelter, so fencing was also erected around it. On the top of this fencing, and on the upper parts of the poles supporting it, a layer of black greasy material was applied, so that anybody trying to climb the fence would lose their grip. So, not only did they make it more difficult for a homeless person to find a place to sleep, they actively sought to injure them to by making them slip and fall from a height.

Possibly the most egregious example, or at least the most ironic, were the bars placed on low ledges outside the Department of Social Protection. So, even the government department tasked with our citizens welfare are spitting in the face of the most vulnerable in our society. A society which disgusts me more with each passing day. Places for rough sleepers to put their head down on the street is not a solution to our homeless crisis of course, these people need to be housed. There are more than enough houses in the country for everybody; nobody should be on the street. But the avaricious market and series of callous governments have been working hand in hand to hoard property, stymie public housing development, and drive prices up to increase profits for investors and developers. And these same people, not content with leeching of the population for their own personal gain, like to give a further kick in the teeth to those clinging to the bottom rung with this aggressive architecture. Modern Ireland at its finest.

Bollards to that

A few months ago, my commute changed, and rather than making my way to leafy, affluent, [poxy], suburban South Dublin, I now have a short stroll to work across the city centre. It’s a busy city, so even early in the morning the footpaths are quite hectic, but are far more so in the late afternoon when I’m leaving work. So it is since the recent move that I have come up against one of my personal bugbears on a daily basis.

Bollards. Dublin is full of them. So many of the streets are lined with these obstacles (pictured above). Not only are our streets cluttered with bins, sandwich boards, bikes* and piles of rubbish, but also these unyielding, intractable hurdles. It’s hard enough to weave one’s way through a busy city street, with meanderthals aimless blundering in your path, gazing at their phones rather than watching where they are going; hydrophobes with eye-stabbing umbrellas; dogs on those stupid extendable leads designed to trip you up (I have no problem with people walking dogs without leashes); large packs of septuagenarian tourists or gaggles of Spanish students, both of whom seem to consist of people terrified of going anywhere by themselves; grown adults walking hand in hand, as if they are also petrified of being separated and swallowed up by the big bad city (or are possibly exchanging long protein strings); this list goes on.

This is not only a Dublin phenomenon of course. Many of the narrow Mediaeval streets of my home town of Galway are lined with these metal hazards too, meaning there is barely room for two people to pass one another. And what are these bollards for? To prevent cars parking on the path. So, instead of having a car temporarily blocking a footpath, the city councils in all their wisdom decided to install permanent blocks on the path instead. This is more evidence of the city being designed for cars rather than for people. What would happen if we took all of the other footpath clutter mentioned above, all the unsightly rubbish bags etc, and put it on the road, so that the traffic would have to negotiate its way around it, instead of those choosing to walk having to do so? After all, there’s far more space on the parts of the street allocated for driving than there is for walking.

So in the end, if I drove to work, I wouldn’t have this issue on my commute. However, my 2km journey would probably take twice as long. Driving in the city centre is pointless, and the sooner cities stop being designed for cars, the better.

 

*I am a cycling advocate, and completely understand why people lock their bikes to poles on busy streets; Dublin is rife with bike thieves. There are few secure places to leave one’s bike in the city. Safer to leave them where there are more people around.

All that Glitters … is Poison

“Who would he be like? Hitler or one of those mad fellas?”

“Oh, much worse than Hitler. You wouldn’t find Hitler playing jungle music at 3 in the morning.”

Thus goes the exchange between the titular Father Ted and his gormless sidekick Dougal in the greatest TV series to ever come from Ireland, as they are discussing their new, troublesome housemate Fr Fintan Stack.

This classic scene sprang to mind when I saw the above picture. It has obviously been shared because of the unfortunate font making the intended message look like something else. Unless the person who made the bag really meant that their favourite colour was ‘Hitler’, which makes no sense. That’s not a colour. Though, then again ‘glitter’ is not a colour either. But is it pretty damned awful. Is it worse than jungle music, or worse than one of history’s most monstrous individuals? I’ll leave it up to yourself to rank those options.

What glitter actually is, firstly, is incredibly annoying. The stuff gets everywhere. It sticks to everything, gets into every nook and cranny, and is almost impossible to clean away completely. What derangement makes people believe it is ‘fun’? It’s nothing but a scourge. And not only do such lunatics wear it, but they often carry little phials of the poisonous filth around with them, to press-gang others into joining in their vexatious frippery. It’s the modern day equivalent of getting tarred and feathered. It’s a shiny, tacky curse.

But not only is it irritating, it is a severe pollutant. Being a microplastic, it leeches into the ecosystem and poisons marine life, enters the food chain, and also ends up in our drinking water. The crap gets everywhere. It’s only one source of plastic in our water of course, but one of the most avoidable, as it stems from a cosmetic substance that serves absolutely no purpose. There are biodegradable versions available, I will grant you. These are in the minority though, and I am not quite sure how much consideration about the environment people have when shopping for glitter (prove me wrong, please).

A bigger question when making any purchase however, is not ‘is it green?’, but ‘do I really need this?’ Especially when it comes to glitter. Do I really need to buy this frivolous gaudy nonsense with which to piss-off my friends? No. Stop buying disposable crap. We generate enough waste as it is. So, let’s consign glitter to the old-folks home, like Fr Fintan Stack and his jungle music. Or better still, have it stick a gun in its mouth in a Berlin bunker and blow its own head off. Either way, let’s see the back of it.

Unexpected Customers in the Bagging Area

In recent years, many retail outlets, most notably supermarkets, have been phasing out counters with actual staff, and replacing them with self-service checkouts. These checkouts can be convenient, or can be a pain in the hole. The irritation may be caused by people attempting to use them but not being able to figure them out, or the infamous ‘unexpected item’ message. But overall, if you are competent enough and are capable of packing quickly and efficiently, they can be useful.

There is of course a very valid argument about how they are costing people jobs. With such automation, fewer employees are needed to staff the tills, as generally the ratio seems to be one employee per 4-5 self-service till*. I can sympathise with this, though I am guilty of using the self-service check-outs. If there are queues for the regular tills, and none for the automated ones, I have generally taken the quicker option. However, recently I have started to notice a reversal of this trend, and an oddity in people’s behaviour towards the payment options.

At first I thought this might be an isolated incident, but the exact same thing has happened in my last three visits to the supermarket, as well as in one other, non-consecutive recent visit. And this occurred in three different supermarkets, so wasn’t just an anomaly concentrated in one location. On each of these visits to stock up on sustenance, I approached the checkouts with my basket (carried, not dragged) of bounty, and noticed that there was a queue for the self-service tills, and none for the regular, staffed checkouts. On three of the four occasions the queues were very long. I obviously went to the regular checkout, paid, packed and left, noting the line of glum, dead-eyed faces that I would have been still standing in had I opted for the self-service route. I had escaped, while they remained Lost in the Supermarket.

I found this behaviour bizarre, and on mulling it over I have come up with five possible explanations for it:

  • All those people politely standing in line were English, and enjoyed the great Anglo-Saxon tradition of politely queuing. Or they were possibly getting used to the idea of queuing for food in a post-Brexit wasteland.
  • Or, they all grew up in the Soviet Union, or other Eastern Bloc states, and were experiencing the meloncholy of Ostalgie.

Owing to the demographics of North Inner City Dublin, both of these explanations are quite unlikely. So, on to more plausible ones:

  • They were all suffering from a bout of social anxiety, and couldn’t face interacting with another human. I can empathise with this. I’ve had many such days. Less so since giving up drinking, but the feeling still bubbles up from time to time. Still though, could this really account for the entire line of people?
  • They were all embarrassed by what they were buying. Piles of junk-food perhaps. Or nothing but a dozen tubs of Vaseline. Or tins of dog food, along with some plastic cutlery. Who knows. Maybe they were nervous about being judged for their purchases. I doubt the staff really would bat an eyelid though.
  • Lastly, and most certainly most plausibly, they simply did not even notice the lack of queues at the other tills. This could be down of one of two reasons. Firstly, that they have become such creatures of habit that going to the self-service till is purely automatic. Maybe the beeping and robotic messages may be provoking a kind of Pavlovian response that draws them in. Secondly, it may simply be that they are utterly unobservant. Many of them were gazing into their phone screens as they were standing in line. I think for many people, the periphery no longer exists, as we become more self-absorbed and less aware of what is happening around us.

So in conclusion, I’m going to put all this down to 21st century obliviousness. And if this behaviour continues, manned checkouts will soon disappear completely. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as jobs that can be automated are replaced with other fulfilling positions, and not bureaucratic Bullshit Jobs.

 

*purely from my own observances, I have not read any study on this.

The Venezuelan Smiler, and his Bloodthirsty Backers

Though the situation has been deteriorating rapidly for a few years now (since at least 2014), Venezuela has only started to get major coverage in the media here in the last couple of weeks. The plight of the Venezuelan population had been ignored in Western circles, until a couple of weeks ago when the bloviating pus-filled abscess in human form started to bleat about it from his podium in the White House. Suddenly, the media over here started to ramp up their coverage.

In case you have not heard, there is an attempted coup d’état underway in Venezuela right now, as the President of the National Assembly Juan Guiadó, has declared himself Interim President of the actual country, demanding that the sitting President Nicolás Maduro step down and that elections be called. Guiadó’s rationale is that last year’s elections were rigged. The US, along with its lapdog the UK and many others, has recognised the claim to the presidency under this pretence. The problem with their story is that the elections were completely transparent, and independently observed by over 300 election monitors from around the world. The Carter Foundation had classified the Venezuelan electoral system as one of the most secure and transparent in the world. But don’t let that get in the way of the prevailing narrative. Further to all this, the opposition, now instigating the coup, requested that the UN not observe the last elections.

Critics of Maduro will point to the mismanagement that has seen the economy collapse and hyperinflation run wild, and there is no doubt that hundreds of thousands, or more, of Venezuelans are suffering right now. Even some of the working class areas that supported Maduro are starting to turn against him. This is of course understandable. From my vantage point, the country has been on a downward spiral since the passing of Hugo Chavez in 2013. I don’t think that Maduro has the gravitas or nous to continue Chavez’s socialist reforms. But, whether he does or not, there is a lot more at play in the situation. Venezuela has been feeling the squeeze from US-led international sanctions for years now, and like any country under heavy sanctions, it is of course finding it next to impossible to operate as a country and economy should. While the BBC and the rest of the British media are highlighting the starving people trying to flee Venezuela, the Bank of England is refusing the withdrawal of €1.2 billion in Venezuelan gold. Is it any wonder that the country is in crisis when its own resources are being held hostage by the West?

Sanctions and support for coups make up two of the three principal strategies in the Western playbook when targeting socialist republics, or any nations that don’t comply with Western economic ideology. The third, full on invasion, has been threatened by White House. All under the guise of the American favourite go-to line of spreading “democracy”. Just they have done in Iraq and Libya in recent years. Two countries who, like Venezuela, had shifted from selling oil in US dollars to other currencies. They are now both failed states. And the US want Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, to go the same way. The White House has just appointed psychopath Elliott Abrams as a special envoy to Venezuela. He filled similar roles under Reagan and Bush (George W) in relation to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, and Guatemala. Four countries gutted by US interventionism and plagued by militia violence and corruption since. And that’s only a fraction of the blood on Abrams’ hands. His list of accomplishments in Latin America and beyond reads like that of the most extreme comic book villains. More than anything else, this ghoul’s appointment as an envoy to Venezuela signals exactly the American’s intent towards the country. Get their man (Guaidó or another post-election puppet) into power, no matter what the cost, or starve and pummel the country into submission. Don’t for a moment think that the actual people of Venezuela are anything more than geopolitical pawns in the eyes of the Western powers. Remember, this is a US administration that is demonising refugees, particularly those from Latin America. Suddenly we are supposed to believe it cares for the plight of Venezuelans? It’s the oil and the petrodollar that they care about. Like any US government, and particularly Republican ones, it is propped up by the oil lobby.

They want Guiadó at the helm. This guy, constitutionally third in line to the presidency, has had his claim to the office recognised by Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, as well as by the US and UK. They believe his claim of being head of state, despite him only being elected for a one-year term of office, in a vote by the 167 members of the Venezuelan assembly, rather than the actual president, elected for a five-year term in an election with over 9 million people turning out. If that’s the case, why don’t the UK make John Bercow Prime Minister? He holds the equivalent office that Guaidó does. The way the UK is going, I’d definitely be on for that. Bercow at the helm on an interim basis, to end the shit show that is Brexit? Yes please.

But one last work on Guiadó. He has come out of nowhere to suddenly be on centre stage in world politics. Every time I see him, I can’t help but think of The Smiler from Transmetropolitan. There is something wicked behind those dead, soulless eyes. I think the pictured panel from the (superb) graphic novel should give you a hint about The Smiler, without any spoilers. To conclude, I’m putting the same picture below, as depending on what device you are reading this on, you may not be able to see the full picture above.

Smiler

The One and Only Working Class

The phrase guilty pleasure pops up a lot when we discuss pop culture. It’s an odd phrase, as its intended meaning suggests something that one enjoys, but feels as if they shouldn’t. Whether it’s a pompous muso secretly liking a Miley Cyrus track, or a cinephile binge-watching the Transformers series, a guilty pleasure supposedly involves enjoyment and shame is equal measure. I don’t really agree with the phrase. Unless your pleasure involves bringing harm to others, why should you feel guilty about it? You can like Eastenders if you want, just don’t be Josef Fritzl.

Nevertheless, the phrase is so pervasive that it does spring to mind when I end up watching, or at least listening to as I’m cooking dinner, Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys. And dammit, despite the fact that he’s a former Tory cabinet minister, it’s a wholly entertaining show, full of interesting titbits and off-the-beaten track locations. And who doesn’t like travelling by train anyway? So, I’m not going to feel guilty about enjoying Portillo’s dulcet-toned narration of meandering journeys across Britain and further afield, despite his political allegiance.

That being said, a phrase he used yesterday struck me and sent me off on one of most frequently travelled mental trails, that of how subtle language is used to manipulate us. While travelling through Yorkshire, he talked about the time that chief parasite George V visited the region, in an attempt to quell threatened strike action from the miners, who were demanding a minimum wage. How this was phrased by Portillo was “…. meet with the working classes….”

I was momentarily taken aback, thinking to myself that something wasn’t quite right about the phrase. Then it hit me. He said ‘working classes‘, not ‘working class’. A tiny distinction, but tells us a whole lot about the mentality of the person saying it. There is a working class. One working class. All the people who are neither big business owners, nor working in bullshit jobs are the working class. One could argue too that is effectively defined by anybody who is not upper class, since the middle class is currently slowly being eroded away, so that we are heading back to 19th century-style social strata. Or we could define the working class of everybody who does actual work, not for their own great benefit, but in order to make tax-dodging corporations, shareholders, investments bankers, and vulture landlords richer.

In the end, the working class is one body. By making it plural, as Portillo did, it is suggested that there are many different factions within the working class, that it is not one block of people from the same socioeconomic background. This subtle language is the embodiment of divide and conquer, turning people in the working class against one another so that they won’t pay attention to who is really fucking them over. The tabloid press is great at this, pitting people against immigrants, travellers, the unemployed, those of different racial or religious background, etc. Classic tactics from the ruling elite. Did Portillo consciously and deliberately say this, or is it simply so ingrained in his ideology that the statement was automatic?

It does work of course. The working class is forever divided. If everybody were to band together, those at the heart of the corrupt and skewed system under which we live would be terrified, and real change could be enacted. But the powerful use the media (primarily owned by the white upper class) to maintain the status quo, and attempt to demonise anyone who attempts to rock their boat. Just as our PM here in Ireland has attempted to do with the striking nurses. Thankfully, this time it has backfired, and the strike is getting support from the majority of the population.

The nurses industrial action could be used as an example or how we should all be organised, to stand up when we are being walked over. Be it by rapacious corporations, manipulative politicians, or slum landlords. The working class should be just that, a single, powerful, entity, to which those in offices of state are answerable to, not vice versa. As long we are fractured, like the Tories, Fine Gael, and every other right and ‘centre’ right* party desire us to be, things won’t improve for the majority of us. Everyone should get involved, unionise, organise. You might not be interested in politics, but politics is certainly interested in you.

Up the workers!

 

*right wing, but with better PR

My first ever post on a Wednesday in February in the Year of the Pig

The overly-long title of this piece is deliberately abstruse, and effectively meaningless. It is an exaggerated example representative of the proliferation of empty and uninformative statistics we regularly stumble across. Admittedly, I seem to mostly encounter this in the realm of sports broadcasting. During the weekend that just passed, I heard one example that prompted me to write this piece.

On Sunday afternoon, I had the (mostly useless*) Sky Sports News on in the background while I was attending to other things at home. The programme cycled through a predominantly repetitive 15-minute loop, peppered occasionally with updates on the live football scores (the reason I had it on). At one point a report on an American basketball game caught my attention. Now, this nugget may have already been on four or five times, but my ears had filtered it out as basketball is a boring excuse for a sport in which I have no interest whatsoever. However, one sentence made me take notice. I don’t remember the game, nor the teams, nor the name of the player being described, and I really have no interest in finding out more about him. But the achievement they were discussing was that he had just surpassed 1000 points scored (is that a lot in basketball?) and in doing so he had become

“only the 6th player under 20 to do so since 2000.”

So, he was the 6th (not first) player, to achieve a certain score, determined within an arbitrary age bracket, and since an arbitrary point in time. How many more qualifiers did that sentence need? And such mealy-mouthed pointless statements are rife, it seems in particular on Sky, at least on this side of the Atlantic. I’ve often heard statements along the lines of ‘Team X haven’t beaten Team Y since the 1960s’. However, this statement fails to underline that the teams in question have rarely been in the same division since, and may have only played one another a handful of times. The statement is framed to suggest that they have played every year since. Or that Team X have never won at Team Y’s ground in the league on a Wednesday. Since league games on Wednesday have only been a feature in recent years, and even then are not that frequent (3-4 per season) this is hardly remarkable either.

Why do broadcasters feel the need to pad the commentary with these utterly useless facts? Can’t they comment on the game that’s actually taking place? On the actual teams and players? It also reminds of when unfancied Costa Rica beat Uruguay in the 2014 football World Cup. Commentators gushed over the fact that they had beaten the former world champions. Uruguay last won the World Cup in 1950. It was hardly the same group of players…

Stats are often abused in order to mislead. I have written about spurious correlation before, and how lethal this misuse and misunderstanding of information can be. Useless stats on sports broadcasts are not harmful in the grand scheme of things, but are indicative of an ignorance with regard to both critical thinking and to numeracy that pervades our society.

Who the hell watches basketball anyway?

 

*except for Jeff Stelling‘s Soccer Saturday of course.

Not currently recycled – nor cared about

Shopping in supermarkets is a minefield. Not only do we have to dodge around vacillating idiots dragging their baskets as if heaving a bodybag behind them, but then trying to actually shop ethically is another palaver. Having a long list of criteria to which I try to adhere puts strain on this weekly endeavour, and that’s before even having to deal with people…

Firstly, there are plenty of brands to try to avoid, Nestlé being chief among them because of their shady business practices. Actually, scrap the word shady. Let’s not use a euphemism. Sociopathic would be a better word. I’ve written about their practices before so won’t go off on that tangent today. At least most products are marked with their logo, but not everything owned by them is (San Pelligrino are a hidden subsidiary of Nestlé, for example). Then there is the issue of trying to avoid palm oil. I know that some of it is sustainably produced, but whether it is or not is impossible to tell from the packaging. Further to that, as I live a plant-fuelled lifestyle I have to check everything I buy for that.

But the thing that irks me most is the packaging of fruit and veg in supermarkets. Almost all of it is, and it is only done to for the sake of convenience. I do try to get my fruit and veg from the local greengrocer or market as much as possible, as almost everything in supermarkets is packaged. Some supermarkets have promised to do something about this. Supervalu have campaigned about cutting down on packaging, or making it all recyclable, by 2025. But a quick dig shows that they were making similar noises in 2002, so don’t hold your breath. Lidl have also been promoting their ‘green’ initiative, changing all their fruit and veg packaging to recyclable plastic. Crucially, it is only this one section of the supermarket. Everything else is packaged, and so much of it (frozen food and other convenience food for example) is in non-recyclable packaging.

This raises two points. First, why not cut out packaging on fruit and vegetables altogether? There is no need for it. Why do apples need to be sold on miniature trays and wrapped in film? Why do oranges need to be sold in (plastic) nets? Just sell the fucking things individually. Secondly, if they must use packaging, why is so much of it labelled ‘Not currently recycled’? This isn’t even allowed in civilised countries. But I suppose here it is the cheapest option. Profits outweigh everything else of course.

And the phrase itself: ‘Not currently recycled’. That little hedging phrase in the middle, to imply that they are going to do something about it. It’s just a facade. Why don’t they just tell the truth and label it ‘gross pollutant’, ‘landfill fuel’, ‘ocean-choker’, or ‘environmental poison’? Only regulation banning these plastics will force their hand. The label as it stands is just another euphemism.

‘Not giving a flying fuck’ is what it should really say. At least be honest, supermarket owners. You won’t lose customers over it. Most people couldn’t give a fuck either.