Help, I think my Deliveroo habit is out of control. I cant stop ordering tasty takeaway treats to be delivered straight to my door. Or even non-tasty things that make you feel as though your insides have been grouted.
It doesnt have to be Deliveroo. It could be Uber Eats, Just Eat Takeaway delivery companies have been very active during lockdown, and should be commended for supporting key workers. However, theyve also become increasingly active at my house. What used to be an infrequent occurrence, chez Ellen, has turned into Moped Food Delivery Central.
Sometimes, its like a gathering of a low-end Hells Angels chapter at my kerb. Once, after some particularly shameful over-ordering, I realised that two separate delivery bikes might end up arriving simultaneously in an unseemly vegan junk food collision. Im going to call this rock bottom, even though I know it could easily get worse.
How did it come to this? Like many Britons, I started lockdown with high hopes for delicious, well-balanced, home-cooked meals, perhaps with harp music playing in the background, as I mused wisely on world affairs. Instead, its been a two-month downhill slide from self-improvement to self-debasement. For all my pompous vegetarian yakking, too often Ive descended into a trance-like state, ordering from the depleted selection of local restaurants. In my area, well-known names regularly vanish into the mists, and all that remains are places with names like BurgerChipsCheap, PizzaChipsCheap, or WrapsChipsCheap. And often it is cheap; much cheaper than eating properly. Thats the problem. Its delicious too. Thats the other problem.
I always tip, socially distance and thank the delivery person profusely. Im not an animal. I genuinely dont want anyone risking anything for me, and certainly not to sate some base urge for a lukewarm jackfruit burrito on a Wednesday evening. And yet still I order. Why? Clearly, at some point, I mentally rebranded takeaway food delivered to my door as a treat. While past generations could go stoically months, even years, without a food-based indulgence, my pathetic 2020 western brain cant handle even a brief period of pressure, cant be dissuaded from spoiling itself with a damp veggie burger from a freaky-looking food-fusion company Id never even heard of before lockdown.
I didnt behave like this before, so something must be going on and that something is my own lack of self-control. In a way, thats fine. Perhaps, those hopes were unrealistically high at the start of lockdown: people envisaged a halcyon time of renewed passions for art, culture and the human spirit. In reality, the most creative thing some of us were going to do was find ever more bizarre ways to process our escalating stress. If my way of coping is a sudden predilection for food prepared by a strange hand, delivered on a strange moped, then whos to judge? Still, it cant go on. Deliveroo, we need to talk. More specifically, we need to stop talking.
Prince Andrew must have thought the pandemic had pushed his association with the convicted sex offender, the late multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, out of the news cycle. Even though the FBI and US prosecutors were still pressing him to talk to them. Even though the famously non-sweaty royal had made such an armpit-gushing mess of that Newsnight interview. Now the public was otherwise engaged.
Then up pops Netflix with the documentary series Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich. The series is due at the end of this month, and, going by the trailer, looks set to give the Duke of Yorks chief accuser, Virginia Giuffre (she of the cosy photo with his arm around her), a pivotal role. As she says: You took our freedom, now were going to take yours. Ive yet to see a clip of staff from the Pizza Express in Woking (I did not knowingly serve warm dough balls to this man), but it doesnt look great for Andrew.
Its all very modern, isnt it? Time was, even huge stories would fade as news cycles moved on. Of course, newspapers could be trusted to revive interest; hard-hitting documentaries were made. However, these days, theres also the phenomenon of Netflix to contend with. Anything interesting, especially with a criminal and/or topical angle, and Netflix is all over it before you can say: Big-budget four-part true crime mini-series.
It was inevitable really. Michael Jackson and R Kelly are just two of the famous faces to have been Netflix-ed in recent years. Not that anyone wishes to encourage a culture of trial by Netflix the legal process is as important as ever. This is just about extinguishing that last bit of hope that certain people may harbour that their ignominy may miraculously float into the ether. In the era of the Netflix documentary series, big stories have less chance of conveniently expiring than ever before.
Nadine Dorries is a Tory minister, whos been the MP for Mid Bedfordshire for 15 years. Id be inclined to think that she knows how to behave, on social media, and everywhere else.
So, why did Dorries retweet a video of Labour party leader, Keir Starmer, which had been doctored to make it look as though he was reluctant to prosecute grooming gangs, when the truth was the exact opposite? It would have taken a dim-witted child precisely nought seconds to deduce that retweeting this item was a stupid, dangerous and unprincipled thing to do, not least because the video came from a far-right Twitter account.
Dorries wasnt alone in retweeting the video fellow Tory MPs Lucy Allan (Telford) and Maria Caulfield (Lewes), also did so, and all three were rebuked by No 10. However, is this good enough? Surely its beyond fake news, or even abject stupidity? Dorries, above all, isnt some Westminster ingenue. Nor is she an amusing character, whose actions could be dismissed as harmless eccentricities. Dorries is a health minister and seasoned parliamentarian, with enough experience to know exactly what she was doing, and why. When youre ready, were all ears, Ms Dorries.
Barbara Ellen is an Observer columnist
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