PIE FURY on Teeside

Following hot on the heels of other local news stories like GRASS VERGE MESS LEFT and SPIDERMAN ORNAMENT STRUCK IN ARSE BY FIREWORK comes the latest installment of local newspaper gold from the UK:

Mmhmm. How do stories like these get as far as the pixels of the local news websites? Is there really nothing more important or newsworthy going on there?

Look, the story is summed up nicely in the headline, but there’s so much more once you dive into the scary verbiage beneath.

“I wanted eight large sausage rolls and two steak bakes,” said Linda, 62, from Thorntree.
“It was 8.45am and there were no pies at all displayed. I could see bags and bags of pies, all wrapped up on cages behind the counter. The trolley was ready to be pushed out. But when I asked for the pies, I was told: ‘We can’t sell the pies until 9am’. I could have had a fruit pie, but not a meat pie.”

u wot m8?

Morrisons… what are you playing at? Sometimes your bowl of cornflakes just isn’t enough and you need to grab an early morning snack like… well.. like eight large sausage rolls (not technically a pie, but never mind) and two steak bakes (closer to pies, but still a bit dodgy, IMHO).

But not before 9am, it seems.

Look, let’s cut to the chase here. There are three main things we need to address about this situation.

Firstly, what sort of nonsense rule is this “no meat pies before 9” thing?
There’s no need for these petty rules. Not ever. But especially not in the North East of England where meat pies are an important and integral part of life. I mean, I hesitate to use the word “vital”, but it’s really not far off.

Linda added: “They are dictating to me when I can buy pies and when I can shop.”

They are, Linda. They are. Of course, those are actually a couple of the fundamental things that all shops do: telling you what you can buy there and when you can buy it. So you’re right, but your indignation is rather misplaced on that one.

And then secondly, I’ve already posed the How does this get into the newspapers? question – although I comprehensively failed to answer it. That’s probably because I am regularly bewildered by the sort of trivial crap that seems to be classed as important enough to get published. But then, when you think about the details, you realise that Linda (and/or her husband Tony) must have made the decision to get in touch with the Teesside Gazette because they felt this was a big enough story to share.

“I can’t believe I wasn’t allowed to buy a meat pie before 9am. I know who needs to know about this: everyone in Teesside. I’ll phone the local paper.”

You learn a lot about Linda and Tony just by that one act.

But you learn a lot more because of point three.

Point three is all about how the story is written. And local journo Keane Duncan (for it is he), has ticked all of the indignant-local-people-in-a-non-story-in-a-local-newspaper boxes:

Plenty of puns:

It should have been a simple case of pie and sell.
The supermarket chain has now swallowed a piece of humble pie and issued an apology to the couple for the mi-steak.

A dodgy pic of the couple, holding pies and looking sad, disappointed, irritated, angry(?) outside a Morrisons:

Sadly, what Keane giveth us in his wordsmithery, he taketh away with his ‘togging skills. Either that or Tony does actually have some weird, Teletubbie-esque cranial projection. Oops.

And then some wholly unconnected information about Tony that’s actually far more interesting than the actual story:

Husband Tony, who eats fish and chips three days a week and rarely touches pastry, branded the decision “stupid”.

Three days a week? That’s almost half the days that there are in a week. That’s a lot of fish and chips. Which days? Is it always the same days? Do you just eat fish and chips on those days? Morning (after 9am), noon and night? Why don’t you like pastry? And if you’re not a fan of baked goods, who were the ten so-called “pies” for?

We’re left guessing.

And even given Keane’s excellent article, it’s pie-despising Tony  who makes this story work. Not just for the fish and chips but for this remarkable allegation:

Morrisons told The Gazette there is no “hard and fast policy” and meat pies are simply baked for 9am to match customer demand.

But Tony suggested a more sinister explanation.

“There’s more to this,” he said. “Morrisons have got their own agenda. They don’t want people to know about it. They have given too many ridiculous stories about why. They contradicted themselves over and over.”

I wonder how sinister we’re going here? Is this something to do with the Russian Spy Drama in Salisbury? Exactly what agenda does Tony think Morrisons have? Some ideological program to restrict their own pastry sales? Why would they do that, Tony, and why would you care anyway? You rarely touch pastry. I mean, if there was some wild plan to limit the hours during which the retailing of fish and chips was permissible, I could understand your indignation and concern, if not the reasoning behind the original idea. But you seem to be in possession of some information that we simply don’t have.

For God’s sake, Tony. What is Morrisons’ agenda here? I ask, because while not selling meat pies until 9am might not seem like a big thing, the hyperbole employed in your response here and your actions reminded me of Martin Niemöller’s infamous, salient words:

First they came for the Early Morning Meat Pies, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Early Morning Meat Pie eater.

Which begs the question

Which leaves me wondering: what are they coming for next?

Is it apples, Tony? It had better not be, because I like apples. Although the whole meat pie thing is of limited concern to me, I shall speak out for the meat pies if they’re planning to cut the times when I can buy apples.

Or beer. Or lettuce.

Or cheese. I mean, I rarely touch cheese, but if anyone tries to stop me buying a Camembert before noon, there will be real trouble…