Listen, and take a deep breath. Can you hear the screeching of tyres? Do you smell the acrid pong of burning rubber and clutch fumes? That’s the sound and scent of the government slamming on its handbrake and performing a U-turn that the Dukes of Hazzard would be proud of. (We should probably stop at this point and ‘urge’ readers to NOT imagine Eric Pickles sporting a pair of Daisy Duke-style denim shorts.)
After much frothing at the mouth by the papers, retailers and hot snack enthusiasts, the so-called ‘Pasty Tax’ - introduced in this year’s frostily- received budget - has been withdrawn. This has led many to speculate over what’s flakier – the government, or the delicious, buttery pastry of a Greggs Steak Bake?
The 20 per cent VAT levy slapped on ‘hot savouries’ which caused so much outrage hasn’t been totally scrapped – you may still have to pay 50p more if you want your hot snack warmed up, as the cut in tax only applies to savouries which are ‘cooling naturally’. As anybody who’s had the misfortune of accidentally buying a Chicken Bake which isn’t fresh out of the oven can testify, timing is everything – tucking in during that golden window when the pasty is at optimum temperature makes the difference between a satisfying lunchtime treat and something that’s akin to cold, salty wallpaper paste in a soggy, limp wrapping. So if your favourite pasty dispenser keeps its snacks under hot lights, in foil or packaging that keeps it hot, or reheats it in a microwave, you’ll still have to pay more –about £3 is the figure which is being knocked around the ballpark.
This, readers, is a half-baked measure if ever we saw one.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Here's the latest zinger from the affably whimsical supermarket PR team which brought you ‘Giraffe Bread’.
SNOOZING AT 30,000 FT
We don’t know about you, but the Money Shot finds it quite difficult to fall asleep on aeroplanes, even after our constitutional mid-flight G&T. Maybe it’s the, ‘snug’ upright seats, stale odours and garish décor of the ‘budget’ carriers we’re accustomed to. Perhaps it’s the fact that the flights we take usually are full of large groups of shrieking ladies in matching pink Stetsons and bellowing, thick-necked gentlemen jetting off to enjoy doubtless wholesome stag and hen weekends. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because of the blind panic that hits us when we realise the enormity of being in a humongous, multi-tonne tube being propelled 30,000 feet in the air.
But it turns out that the pilots don’t suffer any of the sort of in-flight insomnia that we do. This week, MPs heard that nearly half (43 per cent) of aeroplane pilots had drifted off mid-air, based on a survey of 500 members of the British Airline Pilots' Association (BAPA).
Rob Hunter of BAPA recommended – rather sensibly, if you ask us - that fatigue levels should be measured before flights to help stop pilots nodding off, . But “intense pressure” from the airlines over profits means that it’s unlikely to happen in a hurry.
Rather worryingly, Hunter told the Commons Select Committee: “We commonly receive letters that deal with cases where pilots feel that the process that they then get embroiled in is more fatiguing than the duty itself. It becomes a better option to put up with a bit of fatigue rather than report it." The airlines hit back. Tim Price, regulation manager for flight operations at British Airways, claimed that measurements of tiredness did not take into account the ‘activities’ of pilots in their spare time. We can’t think what he might be on about.
Anyway, The Money Shot will certainly be checking its travel insurance policy next time we jet off to see if we’re covered for any loss incurred by a comatose commander.
NEWS IN BRIEF
The ‘dysfunctional’ car insurance marketplace has been referred to the Competition Commission by the Office of Fair Trading.
Driving examiners are set to strike on June 15th over pension conditions. Candidates who’ve got tests booked for this date are being advised to still turn up. Presumably, the test centres are drafting in ‘blackleg’ examiners to cross the picket line amidst cries of ‘SCAB!’ from striking workers.
The AA has told customers that they won’t lose their no-claim discount or excess following a crash involving an identified uninsured driver.
In the 60 years since her Maj took the throne, the average house price has soared from £2,000 to £162,000.
ON GOCOMPARE.COM NEWS THIS WEEK
Never one to make a drachma out of a crisis, Maxine Frances Roper asked if it’s still safe to go to Greece. The answer – a resounding ‘yes’, but with a few caveats.
Kristian Dando traced the history and plotted the future of the humble garden gnome.
We did a bit of ‘research’ and found that hammers are by far and away the most popular weapon that folk keep beside their bed at night.
Spare a thought for Brazilian pool attendant Paulo Henrique dos Santos, who daubed himself from head to toe in green paint to appear as the Incredible Hulk in a running event. Unfortunately, he discovered that the colouring was a non-washable industrial type usually used on missiles and nuclear submarines, not a soluble fancy dress equivalent.
Twenty baths later and poor old Paulo, who works as a ‘club DJ’ in a happening nightspot, is still a rather alarming shade of green. Understandably, he’s a bit concerned that the paint may have an adverse effect on his health. “I was scared, but I think I will not have anything, no,” said Paulo via Google Translate. “So far, I had no symptoms.” Still, it’s not all bad. “I became a celebrity of sorts,” winked Paulo, presumably before attempting to uproot a tree to throw at the gathered throng of tabloid photographers and declaring “HULK SMASH” to anyone prepared to listen.
Join us for another thrilling instalment of THE MONEY SHOT. In the meantime, why not email the editor with your letters. If we print them, you could receive a prized Gocompare.com stationery set and an autographed picture of Gio Compario, star of our award- winning* ad campaign. Three are up for grabs every week. (Promoter: Gocomapre.com Ltd) *Marketing magazine’s ‘Most Irritating Advert’ 2009/2010