The Co-Op, which, like me and Anna Friel*, has its origins in Rochdale, is my favoured vendor of milk, bread and other stuff when I wish to be served by school-aged people with no social skills. I was in there just now and whilst browsing the breakfast cereal offerings -- YES YES I'm about to cross the line into grumpy old man territory, but trust me: you'll do the same when you hear this, even if you're currently a woman -- my gaze happened upon a packet of Coco Pops. On the front was a reference to their latest marketing gimmick, a badge saying "COCO POPS WITH WARM MILK: IT'S SIMPLE! SEE BACK FOR INSTRUCTIONS".
My body went into spasm, as though I were electrocuted. It was all I could do not to gnaw on the shelf or punch the woman who had not thanked me a moment earlier when I moved aside for her. I was fighting the overwhelming urge to grab the packet, hold it in front of me and shout "OF COURSE IT'S SIMPLE! IT'S COCO POPS AND WARM MILK! WHY THE COCKING HELL WOULD YOU IMAGINE I MIGHT NEED INSTRUCTIONS TO MAKE IT?!". My anger only rose when my trembling hands turned the packet over to reveal that yes! indeed, there were detailed instructions on how to prepare your child a bowl of Coco Pops and warm milk. I mean, come on: it's hardly a sodding Bouillabaisse! It's Coco Pops... and warm milk - the entire recipe is right there in the title. Are we to believe that without these instructions people would be standing around in their kitchens, warm tears of humiliation trickling down their cheeks as they turn to their children and chokingly admit that after five hours of experimentation with mysterious Oriental spices and toasted giraffe dung, Mummy can't seem to crack the recipe for the legendary dish known only as "Coco Pops and Warm Milk"? I have a pretty dim view of humanity, but apparently I'm Mother Teresa compared to the people at Kelloggs, who see us as a nation of inbred simpletons which, faced with a child asking for "Coco Pops and warm milk", would go into the kitchen and return with a buttered leopard or something.
And the saddest thing is that Kellogs may well have a point. Given they know more than anyone how staggeringly unhealthy Coco Pops are, and given they know how many are fed to children each day, they probably have a better picture than most of us of just how dumb people are.
It was the least I could do to buy every packet on the shelf, better to keep them away from those less educated. That'll teach those hounds at Kelloggs a lesson.
* The phrase "me and Anna Friel" should in no way be taken to imply that Anna Friel and I constitute a couple, or that Ms Friel is even vaguely aware of my existence. Although had she found herself lonely and unexpectedly single and living in York back in her Brookside days, things might have been very different.**
** Almost certainly not true.