Monday, 22 October 2012

Corn in Portobello: Pop goes your money! Pop on Blenheim Crescent.

I've written about 'Pop' the popcorn shop on Blenheim Crescent previously; slightly puzzled at how such a niche venture could survive in an area of escalating rents. I now know how!

I arranged for a 5 year old and his mother try the place out (I am obviously too old for things such as popcorn) today. The following is entirely their opinion.

They liked the packaging - this is important because it was half the weight.

The sweet stuff was too sweet and tasted a little burnt.

The savoury stuff was ok, nothing special and perhaps a little soggy. Nothing to write home about.

They bought a box of cheese popcorn and brought it home. The box and it's contents weighed 80 Grams, the popcorn weighed 40 Grams. the cost was £3.45. I'll do the maths for you; this works out at £86.25 per Kilo... More expensive than foie gras; the most expensive foodstuff I could source (outside Beluga caviare and silly Japanese things). This is why the shop works: yummy mummy is spending a fortune on a handful of highly inflated starch.

The girl in the shop was nice and let them taste different flavours and she said she popped it herself but at these prices it should have been popped by Johnny Depp dressed as Willy Wonka with a kiss thrown in for mummy!

Also there was no information regarding additives, flavourings, MSG or nuts on the pack.

As a comparison a 70 gram pack of popcorn from Tesco cost £1.00. the same thing is on sale in The Grocer on Elgin Crescent (the most expensive food shop in the area) for £1.20!

I have received the following from Matt at Pop:


If I do have right of reply, I’d appreciate you representing all my views?

Thanks for coming in. all views welcome, and we’ll look at the shortcomings you pointed out; though I have to say the vast majority of people, whom I’m sure you wouldn’t think are any less smart than you, taste the product, make a choice, and buy some. And many, in particular locals, come back again and again. We’re very happy about this, and because we want to encourage their business, we offer regular customers a discount and are in the process of having loyalty cards printed; it is a sneaky marketing ploy, yes, but it is also meant to make people understand that if they come back they’ll get treated well and regular customers appreciate it. 

So on to price. A full box of flavoured corn is £3.45. If you’re a local and you have a card, it’s £2.75. If you buy two it’s £2.50 each. If you buy a large bag of olive oil and seasalt corn, or sugar-coated corn, it’s £2.20. If you have a party and want single-size servings for kids, it’s a quid. We’re also trying to find some inexpensive snack box type things and get them branded up; buy one and when you bring it in, we’ll fill it for 50p. And I have to hand the government 20% in VAT. 

But let’s start with the headline-grabber – a box of popcorn for £3.45. First, we want to get bigger boxes for the ‘flavoured’ corn – for the coated ones, like English toffee and sea salt, the portion is big enough. So fair point. But let’s look at the costs. The corn itself is not, no surprise, the biggest cost. The price of raw corn has risen 45% in the past few months with US crop failures, but it’s only when you add the flavourings – natural English cheddar cheese made into powder, with no additives, or the butter, three types of sugar, and vanilla that goes into the caramel, or the organic apple juice, natural cinnamon, etc that we put in the Apple Cinnamon – that you get the full picture.

The nice packaging is expensive, about 24p each. Even the labels cost about 9p. Add in labour costs, depreciation, rates, utilities, rent, waste disposal (businesses pay for every bag they throw away or recycle), and all the other costs then you’re left with a relatively slim margin. 

So there you have it, pretty much line by line. I hope it explains our business. It’s not as sexy a story as £100 a kilo popcorn. But then the reality never is as interesting as the speculative guess, is it?

A slightly patronising but sturdy response.

And my point does not come from a speculative guess... It is still ridiculously expensive!

By the way, Matt is a marketing guy and marketing guys do stuff like this... In order to disguise the fact that they just want our money!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Police tazer blind man for possession of white stick!

True story. The police tazered a blind man having mistaken his white stick for a samurai sword...

I spoke to my man at Scotland Yard who stated: " The particular  constables seeing crime dog was on heat at the time and got the hots for a blind man's collie and instructed the officer to 'taze' away in order to free up the collie for a shagging".

He went on to admit that since the dumbing down of the police force and the introduction of canine team leaders there has been a more dogged determination within the 'Tazer a blind man to shag a dog squad'


A police team leader looking for something to shag. Tazer at will!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Assange claims he was only looking for UFO's.

In an extraordinary change of tactics, after taking advice from Gary McKinnon and in order to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges Julian Assange is now claiming that he was going into Swedish women's knickers solely in search of evidence of UFO's.

                         Assange indicating the position of UFO's on the female form.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Frieze London 2012 & why the muse will not be going.

A guest blog from JAN NIEUPJUR.  Nieupjur is both an artist and philosopher. founder of Nieupjurism and Abstract depressionism. Described by Nat Tate as the most important 20th century artist and by Duchamp as the most plagiarised.

The entrance to Frieze New York. They all look the same don't they?

In the 'Creative Marriage' the muse is the 'artist'. She is imaginative and forward looking while the artist has become the 'mechanic'. Nothing more than a conduit for her creativity and the tool by which it is rendered tangible. In the case of 'BIG NAME' artists it is sadder than that; the artist has simply become the 'administrator' liaising between the creative and the mechanics producing the work within the factory like studio. The 'Name' artist is no closer to art than the hospital administrator is to surgery.

Art (or what claims to be art (blame Serota)) is now purely interested in chasing the buck and the places to chase the buck are 'Art Fairs' such as frieze!

Frieze is also the place to be seen for suits, trophy wives, trophy wives in suits, middle aged rom com actors with their Asian babes (plenty of soft porn titillation guaranteed) and 'Artists' in suits. It is nothing but a corporate seminar like any NHS seminar and the be all and end all is the embodiment of victory of profit over integrity or creativity.

For the duration of Frieze the muse will be in the studio conjuring up angel tears from her harp whilst in the tent in the Regents Park they will be plucking the feathers, one painfully by one, from the same angel's wings!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Grant Shapps, snake oil salesman runs for the hills.

In the light of Grant Shapps taking down his dodgy 'fast buck' websites we can surmise that he is dodgy, a chancer, oleogenous, a bullshitter and squeakily unclean... all in all a Tory! Cameron has lost the plot!

This could easily be a BNP or similar rally. I'd rather trust Jimmy Saville than this guy!

This country is now being run by a bunch of corrupt, elitist kids, coked out of their brains 'allegedly' and without a single thought for anyone other than their nasty little clique. GOD HELP US.

On a serious note, read this in the Guardian:

Jimmy Savile, George Entwistle and the BBC.

Jimmy Savile: Darling of Auntie Beeb!

                               Entwistle: Seedy 'uncle'?

In the guardian this morning I read the following:

"The BBC director general, George Entwistle, has promised to investigate the mounting allegations of sexual abuse by Sir Jimmy Savile, but only when the police investigation has been completed.
Entwistle told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday that he deeply regretted what had happened and apologised to the women involved for what they have had to endure, but he said he did not want to compromise the police inquiry."
Further on into the article I read:
"Entwistle, who rose through the ranks of the BBC as a journalist (and described elsewhere as: a "loyal BBC soldier"), said he had not about heard the rumours of sex abuse until late last year but conceded: "Jimmy Savile was regarded as by a great many people as odd, a bit peculiar and that was something I was aware some people believed."

Then I read the following in another article: "The former head of Radio 1 was aware in the early 1970s of allegations of sexual abuse involving Sir Jimmy Savile, an ex-press officer for the station has claimed.
Rodney Collins said on Wednesday that an ex-Radio 1 controller, the late Douglas Muggeridge, asked him to find out whether newspapers were looking into sex abuse claims about Savile in 1973.
Collins, who was head of press for Radio 1 when Savile was a DJ at the station, urged the BBC to launch a full internal inquiry and to examine who knew what and when.
"The BBC should now – having first of all said they knew nothing about this – hold a full inquiry, they should co-operate with the police. If anyone working there at the time had some knowledge of this they should put their hands up," Collins told MediaGuardian!.
So Entwistle rose through the ranks of the BBC as a journalist! A pretty good indication then that the quality of journalism there is pretty poor or that the BBC has a long tradition of brushing its own shit under the carpet or both.
Of course Savile was odd! Alarm bells should have been screaming years ago, especially after savile's defence of Gary Glitter. And of course BBC management would have known about Savile's 'parties'.
Rather than wait (no doubt hoping that all this will go away) the director General should instigate an internal inquiry immediately.
The BBC is often referred to as 'auntie', it transpires that 'Seedy uncle' might be a better epithet!
Oh! And how many seedy men at the Beeb had Jimmy fix it for them to live out their own seedy fantasies I wonder? 

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Collective at the West Bank Gallery.

bloody hell! Something worth going to see in a Notting hill gallery.

A group show running for a very short time (until the 7th) featuring some surprisingly good stuff. go and catch it.

I loved the organic forms of Kate Linforth:

Serene, understated ceramics by Maria Dehaan are both Beautiful and functional.

kim Francis makes almost indescribable fragile objects of great beauty. Faberge made accessible.

WEST BANK GALLERY is at133 Westbourne Grove W11.  look it is pissing with rain, there could be no better way of escaping it! Prices are realistic too and for once it is not 'faddish' ephemeral tosh.

Arty Self portrait.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Pelican, Tavistock Road W11 is reopening on saturday 6th of October.

After some considerable time closed following a rather checkered history the Pelican is finally reopening its doors! It will be interesting to see how it goes; the new owners appear to have spent a considerable amount of money on the buildings interior which indicates that they may want to keep the usual suspects out.

In the light of what is happening generally to our local pubs lets hope the Pelican maintains some standards!

The new owner showed me around the other day and was keen to assure me that it was not attempting to be some kind of gastro pub but something that might resemble a PUB!

Opening on the 6th at 6,00 pm... worth a look anyway.