Mad as a fish

I was clearing out some old paperwork and came across the documents I had printed off when I used the aforementioned ‘Mad as a fish’ as my Internet service provider (ISP).

For the benefit of anyone under 30 struggling with the concept of what paperwork means, back in the day when you subscribed to or contracted with any kind of service you always got a pile of paperwork. It’s worth adding that all but the most diligent wouldn’t actually read it, but dutifully filed away…or for the less organised, shoved in a drawer somewhere.

I can’t quite remember why I signed up with them back then. I have long since moved on through quite a few other ISPs but not with quite such ‘off the wall’ names. It might have been the quirkiness of having a slightly strange e-mail address such as ugly.ocean-monster@madasafish.com . Although cyber crime and phishing e-mails (no pun intended!) weren’t really widespread then, even in those days it would have been a warning sign to get a random e-mail saying Dear Ugly Ocean Monster, it appears that your car tax Direct Debit has failed, please connect to this site and give us all your personal data so that we can hack you etc. Let’s face it…how many Ocean Monsters have cars, or can drive?

As I wrote on a previous blog, call me baked potato I am actually a big fan of having a random e-mail address or two to use when you are absolutely forced to give a contact e-mail for an unfamiliar on-line retailer or booking service even though deep down you know at best this address will be spammed with rubbish and at worst there will be attempts to scam you.

In fairness to fish, and using the context of ‘don’t get mad, get even’ rather than any kind of Mad Professor behaviour or other suggestion of not quite being in line with everyone else; most fish I have come across have been pleasant and very even tempered and if I recall Mad as a fish were quite good on customer contact and service. Glad to see that they still seem to be around.

These days many people tend to sign up with mainstream providers – in the UK it is often Sky, EE, BT (the original and largest fixed line and phone service provider) ; in the US it’s Comcast and Verizon and a whole host of other big names. If you live in China I think its just two providers . That’s some duopoly!

However in Switzerland , amongst the advantages of living in a country that is very good at Chocolate, Mountains, Trains that run on time and watches that are on time too but have eyewatering price tags, they had a start up ISP called Twifi which generously offered free WiFi for 18 years for anyone who named their child after the company. If you had a daughter is was to be Twifia, if it was a son, Twifus. All you had to do was send them a verified copy of your child’s birth certificate.

Such offers don’t seem to be available in the UK much to the relief of children whose parents signed up with Cuckoo Internet!

Our children were from an earlier era, and it was really just energy providers that were proliferating.

Thankfully for them such marketing campaigns hadn’t existed from the providers we had signed up with, otherwise we might have been proud parents of Octopus and Bulb..the big name providers of the time!

It’s our other national food…

Growing up as a teenager in Scotland and influenced by both TV, cinema and bill board advertising I strongly remember adverts for Irn Bru stating ‘it’s your other national drink’…that first drink in question being Scotch Whisky.

The two drinks actually have a similar (ish) colour but not much else in common other than being produced in Scotland. One of the other advertising straplines for Irn Bru was ‘made from girders’.

They actually went on from that to have some clever and sometimes risque advertising…a quick Google search will enlighten and amuse you.

For those of you from outside the UK as a whole (as Irn Bru can be purchased in England and Wales and many other places worldwide where there is Scottish ex pat demand for it), it’s a very sugary soft drink that does have some iron content (albeit a tiny percentage) hence it’s name.

It was a bit of a dentist’s nightmare although sugar free versions now exist and the original has now had sugar content reduced to comply with UK sugar tax regulations.

However the title of this blog is about food not drink but there is a similar conumdrum. I was asked last week by an overseas colleague…what is the traditional British food eaten most often? The natural reaction to this question is Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.

Yorkshire pudding for those not in the know is not a dessert but a savoury dish served alongside beef.

Indeed for so long was this the stereotypical meal was that French people sometimes refer to English as ‘Le rosbifs’. But things have moved on…the traditional Sunday lunch of a roast has changed.

As a child I remember this almost religious event of sunday roast. Mother and Father cooking, Father carving..that had a rotating timetable..one week beef, then lamb, then pork, then chicken…and start again.

Interrupted really only by events such as Christmas when we had Turkey. Easter Sunday was always lamb…even if not a scheduled lamb Sunday! Things have changed…the cost of meat joints, the whole concept of family Sunday lunch and a host of other factors now mean these meals in many families are exceptional events, rather than normal certainly when at home. So what is traditional or commonplace food now…ignoring junk or fast food (that is probably top of league table for volume) in terms of popularity for a shared meal both at home and in restaurants one has to say curry..and probably even more specifically chicken tikka masala.

The widespread availability of ‘Indian’ food as take away from restaurants, ready meals in supermarkets and of course being actualy cooked from scratch at home combined with the huge number of ‘Indian’ restaurants means this is definitely our No. 1 food. I put ‘Indian’ in parenthesis as actually many of these restaurants and take aways are actually Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Nepalese or Sri Lanken. But the phrase shall we eat Indian food has stuck…rather than using the term Indian sub content style food!

Will Roast beef decline into oblivion…no, but certainly our choice of food get a ever wider and reflects the multi cultural world we live in. Ironically restaurants serving ‘roast dinner ‘ are probably now more prevalent on Spain’s Costa del Sol to feed the holidaying and ex pat Brits than on the average UK High Street!