This didn’t happen to me, I read it in the news. Please calm your outrage, no I am not going to start simply reviewing common or garden news stories on this site (unless people really want me to, I’ve got no integrity really, it’s all about the page views), but I saw this and I felt it was an example of someone else’s anecdote which really justified some delving into. Don’t panic, I have not run out of material; life provides me with material on a bi-weekly basis at the very least and I have a healthy pipeline, this is just something different.

It begins (from The Times):

Just when supermarkets are taking action to stop horsemeat getting into beef ready meals, a Tesco’s customer has found a dead bird in a £1.50 packet of baby leaf salad.

OK fine, slightly worrying that there is a price reference, as if it’s relevant. Would it have been more acceptable if it had been a cheaper or more expensive salad? Anyway, introducing the Watsons:

James and Jasmine Watson were enjoying a candlelit dinner of steak and chips when they made the gruesome discovery. Mr Watson had started eating the salad before he spotted the unexpected ingredient.

Mr Watson, 32, said: “I took three mouthfuls and then saw it. My first reaction was why have I got a soggy fishcake on my plate? Then I saw its beak and realised it was a full-size dead bird.”

We shall gloss over this “candlelit dinner” lie, you’re going to be in a newspaper so you have thought long and hard about many ways to embellish your life in general and this anecdote to the journalist in particular. You are 32, married to someone clearly just because she has a similar-sounding name to yours, and you are having chips for dinner. It is a “candleshit dinner” if anything.

Next. Good that you’re counting mouthfuls just in case anything newsworthy happens, a life skill we should all have. Then it appears, Mr Watson, that the only thing that distinguishes between a soggy fishcake and a bird, is the presence of a beak. Is perhaps the reason you are stuck with chips for dinner the fact that the last time your wife cooked you fishcakes, you reacted with “what’s this beakless bird doing on my plate”?

A fishcake in the wild.
A fishcake in the wild.

Their dinner accompaniment has since been identified by Tesco as a blackcap warbler, a sparrow-sized bird that is native to southern Europe. The supermarket says it is investigating how it came to be in the salad.

He added: “We were preparing dinner in the kitchen. My wife was cooking scallops as a starter and steak for the main meal and I prepared the salad.”

No, “James” your “wife” was “cooking” scallops for herself and steak and chips for you. OR, your wife was cooking just steak and chips and demanded you include the scallops in the story when you told her you were calling the newspaper. But nice of you that you did your bit by preparing some nice fresh salad.

“I opened the bag, tipped it into a salad bowl and cut up some other salad bits and put them on top. Then I served the salad on some plates.”

You did your bit by pouring a bag from Tesco into a bowl and then transferring the contents of the bowl onto some plates. We know the “cutting up other salad bits” is a lie. The kind of people who say “other salad bits” are the kind of people who do not cut their own vegetables.

“We were eating off our breakfast bar in the kitchen with our plates just inches apart and we both saw it at the same time.”

How long did you and Mrs Watson spend on this part of the story? She insisted on the candlelight already, and the scallops. And you told her “but surely we can’t just say we were sat on the sofa watching Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute Salad Bits”. She’s been harping on about how your friends, who got married around the same time as you both but now have two kids, have a breakfast bar in their kitchen for years. She tells you the journo will never know. “Let’s pretend we have that breakfast bar, James. My mum might read this story, maybe it’ll give her something else to talk about other than the fact you haven’t yet fertilised me.”

OK, so they are so happy together that they have candlelight dinners of scallops and steak and chips and salad off a breakfast bar of an evening…

Mr Watson added: “We both got off our stools and stood there in utter amazement for at least two minutes.”

I’d like to have seen that. Standing staring at a beaked fishcake for two whole minutes is quite a feat. I couldn’t have done it, I’d have had to probably say something, or throw it away or something. Two minutes. That’s 120 seconds of focussed staring in amazement. Imagine how “utterly” amazed you are at other things. “Yeah I showed James that video on YouTube of the dog riding a flume into a swimming pool. He’s been staring at the laptop in utter amazement for nearly 14 months now.”

After he contacted his local branch in Yate near Bristol the Watsons received a visit from a manager who brought a bottle of wine and some flowers and took away the dead bird. Tesco later contacted the couple to offer a £200 gift voucher, which Mr Watson rejected as an “insult”.

Your first reaction was to call the manager of Tesco and get him to come round and take the bird away? “Hi, I found a bird disguised as a fishcake in my freshly prepared salad, can you come round and take it away please? Bring wine and flowers, my wife is ever so upset. She stared for almost 2 minutes and ten seconds, she was much more distraught than me. (yes Jasmine, I’ll tell him). We had scallops too. On the breakfast bar. When we found the bird we moved the plates from the breakfast bar out of the kitchen and onto the table just in front of the sofa. Just for you know, hygiene. We closed the kitchen door so if you want to see the breakfast bar, it’ll have to be another time. Remember the wine. And flowers. And bring a gift voucher. As high a denomination as you have in stock. And a machine to give me points, I have my Clubcard right here.”

He says he is still waiting for an explanation. He added: “I would really like someone from Tesco to sit down and explain to me how an animal so large got into a bag of salad. I have just been gobsmacked by the whole thing. The magnitude of this was disgraceful and I find the offer of compensation a bit of an insult.”

Look he fucking took the gift voucher, there is no way he refused £200. He took it instantly, the wife snapped at him talking about the principle, argued that principle was definitely worth more money, the manager told them he was only authorised to give them £200 because the main manager refused to come round and pick up the dead bird, and eventually he accepted the £200 and the Clubcard points. The wife then said “The cheek of it, only £200. Go to the newspapers this instant! But before you do, let’s talk scallops and a breakfast bar.”

Tesco said: “We were concerned to learn of this issue and have investigated thoroughly with our supplier.

If that was me, I’d have called the supplier and got him to fly over from Heidelberg or wherever to dispose of the bird.

“Both we and our suppliers have robust measures in place to prevent incidents such as this, and our salad leaves go through complex filtering and washing systems.

Some daft bastard pressed the fishcake salad filter button instead.

“We have been in contact with our customer to reassure them how seriously we have taken this matter, and offered them a gesture of goodwill.”

…”which they accepted just to point out, in case they tell you otherwise. And another thing, that wife of his necked that bottle of wine in less time than it took me to identify the bird as a blackcap warbler, which was not long, in fact I’d recently found an injured one shortly before returning to work at the fishcake salad filtering plant…”

So Mr Watson has his £200 to spend on scallops for the wife and gristle and microwave chips for himself, and is right now sitting at home on the sofa, using this incident as a reason why they should never eat salad again – all the while hoping that his bird salad story (mostly lies as we have seen) becomes an internet meme like the horseburgers, to make up for the fact he never gets sex any more from his wife because she just keeps saying “all I can see is that dead bird’s face…”

If it’s taken you at least two minutes to read this post, that was two precious minutes you could have spent staring in amazement instead…

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2 Comments

  1. Tremendous. You should make a semi-regular feature of dissecting what really happened in similar news stories.
    The Watsons eh? Wonder if they have a relative called Dave…

  2. I might do, I am a whore to public opinion so if people would like more of this shit I’m happy to oblige.

    And yes, the couple along the road that the Watsons were so envious of, with the kids and the breakfast bar, were definitely called the Bonhams.

    (To everyone else, this is an in-joke between us from when we were writing partners).

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