COLUMN: January 26, 2011

WHEN I went to buy my last lap-top, proceedings were going fairly well. I had managed to snaffle a bag with FREE mouse for a paltry £25 as part of the deal, so I was feeling pretty good about myself.

I felt as if I’d been to a Moroccan souk and bought the beautiful daughter of the merchant for $8 and a bag of plums. If the merchant had been a pimple-faced boy who hadn’t even been born when the first Pentium processor came out.

That’s when it went downhill, of course.

“And would you like to buy our Superdupercover option?”

“What’s that?” I wondered.

“It’s total cover against breakdown of the equipment.”

“How much is that?”

“That’s £200.”

What? The laptop was only £500.

“Are you telling me you’re selling me a crock? Is that what you’re saying?”

“It does cover you if you break it yourself.” I noticed he hadn’t actually answered my question.

This is an outrageous way to run a business. Why should I take out insurance on an item with the store which is selling me the item? It’s tantamount to the store saying: “It’s Russian roulette buying stuff from us. I just don’t know how we get away with it.”

Can you imagine walking into Greggs and finding them behaving in the same manner?

“Can I have a sausage roll, please?”

“Jumbo or ordinary?”

“Erm, jumbo, please. As long as the noose is around my neck, I might as well jump off the horse. Ha, ha, ha! How much is that?”

“69p. But for an extra 30p you can have our special RollBack cover.”


“Yes. If you bite into your sausage roll and find, for example, a slug in there – NOT THAT THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED, MR GREGGS’ SOLICITORS – then we issue a replacement sausage roll or other savoury bake to the same value.”

“And can you guarantee there won’t be a slug in that one?”

“We’re very confident there won’t be. But you can never be 100 per cent sure.”

I am reminded of the sign I saw in the window of a recruitment and temping agency in Liverpool city centre some time ago: “Due to shortage of staff at the office today, please post your CV through our Letterbox.”

That’s right. A company whose very purpose is to find people to fill temporary vacancies was forced to close because it has a temporary vacancy. Can you imagine the sense of failure there when this cropped up? A dirty great cloud of ennui. It’d be as if the whole of the remaining staff were forced to wear parkas in warm weather, but parkas made of gloom.

I told the man in the computer shop that I would take my chances, picked up my special-offer bag with mouse (who uses a mouse with a laptop anyway, by the way?) and completed my purchase.

Obviously I broke the laptop some months later, but I make no claims to be representative of humanity. If anything, I am a wake-up call to evolution.


I AM appalled by the efforts of the so-called “shepherd lobby” to indoctrinate our children in the ways of “woolly animal husbandry” as we must no doubt call it these days.

Now they want to make our children learn how to count in Shepherdese (ie,. Yan, tan, tethera, etc) and replace the classics with old Black Bob strips and episodes of Shaun The Sheep.

We must resist the “shepherd agenda”. What if all our children grow up to become shepherds? For a start, they’d have to change the name of shepherd’s pie. It would just be known as “pie”. It’s a slippery slope.

(NOTE TO ED: It’s all right. I have not gone mad. I’m hoping for a Jan Moir/ Melanie Phillips- style storm. Everybody on Twitter will link to the online version, just like they do to the Daily Mail. We’ll be quids in!)

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