BOXING DAY SALES: Thousands of UK shoppers queue up from midnight

Newcastle – VIJAY SHAH via ED RILEY and Mail Online/Daily Mail

Today sees the launch of special Boxing Day sales promotions on high streets and shopping centres across the United Kingdom, with thousands of keen bargain hunters said to be queuing up outside shops from midnight in some places, reports the newspaper Daily Mail.

Ahead of an expected bumper day of GBP 4.75 billion flowing through the tills of Britain’s retailers, reports came in from Newcastle and Birmingham of massive queues in the dead of night, when most people would be sleeping off their Christmas roast dinners. In the northern city of Newcastle, shoppers were seen sitting on the pavement, huddled in blankets and decked in warm clothing.

In Newcastle, around 2,500 shoppers formed a queue at the Silverlink Retail Park, eagerly awaiting the opening of the Next superstore, which sells clothes, at 6 A.M. Next issued 1,300 tickets per shopper, as many as the store could legally contain, yet a 1,000 more will still waiting outside in the bitter north English cold. The store is reducing some of its lines by a hefty fifty per cent especially for the 26th of December.


One shopper told the Mail: “We ordered pizza at 3am to warm ourselves up.

‘Some people might think it’s extreme to wait for five hours for a shop to open, but we don’t want all the best deals to be gone by the time we get inside.

‘I am sure it will be worth it!’

Large early morning queues were also reported in Manchester’s Trafford centre. Across the country, many shoppers took their queue positions from as early as 12 or 1 AM, it was reported. Queues stretched around the block, with hundreds of participants.

Out of the projected £4.75 billion spend today, 3.71 billion is expected to come from purchases at physical stores, with the remaining £1.04 billion coming from online sales, according to research published by the Centre for Retail Research in tandem with Vouchercodes, a UK shopping discount website. Research from credit card company Barclaycard supported the Centre’s own findings, stating that that four in ten UK adults plan to shop in the sales over the Boxing Day period, anticipating an average spend of £188 each. Boxing Day is the most popular day to shop during the Christmas sales period, according to Barclaycard, with three in ten Britons planning to hit the sales on December 26 specifically.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “Boxing Day was the biggest spending day ever last year, and will be bigger again this year.

‘Spending of £3.7billion in stores and a billion online will be so high because shops and customers keep saying that almost all shoppers will focus on day one of the sales, to get the best deals.

‘Research also shows many shoppers will spend all their money in one go, unlike a few years ago when people would go to the sales several times over a week or two.

‘Now it’s a Black Friday-style rush on the first day.”

The operations director for major shopping centre owner intu, Gordon McKinnon, added: “The Boxing Day bonanza will see many shoppers brave early morning winter weather to have first pick of the bargains.”

Konrad Kelling, managing director of customer solutions at Barclaycard, said: “Whilst most plan to spend Boxing Day with friends and family, Brits also don’t want to miss out on the best deals to be had.

‘Surprisingly, men plan to spend more than women in the sales this year – whether that be staying up late to buy that must-have item or even browsing online during the family festivities.”

Kelling also acknowledged that not all shoppers were prepared to go to the extreme length of waiting in the hours of the early morning in freezing conditions, adding: “Boxing Day remains the most popular day to shop for bargains over the Christmas period. However, this year the majority of consumers plan to shop online from the comfort and convenience of their own home rather than braving the winter weather and crowds on the high street.”

The British high street industry has suffered numerous setbacks over the past year, with significant store closures and collapses of some famous high street names, as more people opt to shop online. Though the record-breaking Boxing Day sales of 2018 could temporarily halt this decline, many store managers and CEOs are still feeling uneasy about the future of the big chain store in the face of online competitors.


Sherrie Bachell/Facebook.

“The biggest Boxing Day sales ever! Thousands of bargain hunters queue from MIDNIGHT at shopping centres across Britain as they try to beat the rush ahead of £4.75BILLION festive spending spree” – Ed Riley, Mail Online News/Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group/Associated Newspapers Ltd (26 December 2018)


“London December 24 2016 (17) Sale Starts Boxing Day” – DAVID HOLT, Flickr (24 December 2016)


NUTS ABOUT NUTELLA?: French shoppers riot over heavily discounted chocolate spread

Paris – VIJAY SHAH via CHRIS BAYNES and The Independent

Everyone loves a bargain. But on the negative side, a shopper’s paradise can very rapidly turn into a shopper’s nightmare when people turn ugly over bagging cut-price goods. Just ask any retail worker on a Black Friday in Britain. That free-for-all mentality became very obvious this past week in France, when local supermarket chain Intermarché heavily reduced the price of Nutella hazelnut and chocolate spread, only for riots to ensure and people reported injured in mad scrambles and store fisticuffs.

Intermarché unveiled a special promo on the popular spread, manufactured by Italian firm Ferrero SpA, reducing the price from €4.50 (£3.90) to €1.41 (£1.23) for the 950 gram jar. Customers keen to get their Nutella crepe fix practically fought over the jars in the aisles, causing police to be called to several of the chain’s outlets. There were reports of people pushing and shoving, with one woman left bleeding and a supermarket worker ambushed as they brought fresh stocks of Nutella to the shop floor.


According to UK newspaper the Independent, French social media users shared footage of shoppers swarming around shelves of the spread, jostling each other. “Seriously? All this for Nutella,” remarked one stunned bystander. Another commented: “This is not normal.”

One customer was said to have suffered a black eye during a fight that broke out over the sweet spread in a store in the town of L’Horme, in the central Loire region. That store sold out of Nutella in only fifteen minutes, a store employee told newspaper Le Progres. The manager of another Intermarché in Rive-de-Gier, central France, said 600 pots were sold within five minutes. One customer described shoppers as “like animals”.

“A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a blood [sic] hand,” they said. “It was horrible.”

Some extremely desperate Nutella fans in the town of Montbrison, also in central France, went to the extent of hiding Nutella jars in secret places in the shop, ready to harvest them the next day, while keeping the precious foodstuffs out of the sight of rival shoppers. The manager of that store, Jean-Marie Daragon, tried to remedy the madness by bringing in a Nutella rationing scheme, limiting customers to three jars per person.

Alba, Piedmont-based manufacturer Ferrero condemned the violence across the border but also distanced itself from Intermarché and its controversial promotion. “We wish to clarify that this promotion was decided unilaterally by the Intermarché brand,” it said in a statement. 

Nutella is extremely popular in France, with 100 million jars a year consumed by citizens, making France one of the hazelnut and chocolate flavoured spread’s biggest markets globally.


The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc.

“Nutella ‘riots’: Sale on chocolate and hazelnut spread sparks chaos in French supermarkets” – Chris Baynes, Independent (26 January 2018)


“File:MAD OVER NUTELLA.JPG” – Raginianand, Wikimedia Commons (3 June 2015)


HIGH STREET TV – New senior team appointed at media company

York – VIJAY SHAH via Entirely Yorkshire

A Yorkshire-based retail channel company, High Street TV, has announced the creation of a new team of senior executives which it is hoped will help boost the profile and success of the company, reports the website Entirely Yorkshire.

High Street TV operates five television channels dedicated to shopping in the UK, and is described as the country’s most successful and longest running multi-channel DRTV Home Shopping Channel, diffusing around 3,000 hours of viewing time across its platforms, along with advertising on another fifty channels including major outlets like Channel 4 and Five. The media firm specialises in selling home and fitness goods, such as food preparation devices, electronics and fitness machines. 


The company has already enjoyed considerable success in a highly competitive industry, making it to the The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 business rankings of fast-growing firms. High Street TV has also being named the third fastest growing in its native county with a 42nd place ranking in the national league.

The company’s most significant appointment is Andy Haywood. Previously involved with High Street TV as a creative consultant, Haywood will commence a new role as Head of Creative. He has worked in a  creative capacity for several high-profile media companies, agencies and other clients. In a comment attributed to him by Entirely Yorkshire, Haywood said: “The opportunity for me to leave my own footprint on High Street TVs brand identity and creative portfolio is really exciting. We’ve already begun assembling a fantastic team with the knowledge and experience to really push the company’s brand and creativity to another level so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve for High Street TV.”

Alongside Haywood, the shopping channel firm have also hired three other executives who will bring more original content and creativity to High Street TV. Jill Ford, formerly of baby products company Mamas & Papas joins as Senior Designer. Will Parkinson , previously a graphic designer at electronics firm Siemens, will start a new job as Middleweight Designer; and James MacDonald, a Dublin-based medical animation specialist and television director, will take on the mantle of Lead Animator.

High Street TV’s marketing director Francesca Woodward told Entirely Yorkshire: “We were continuously impressed by Andy’s innovative approach to his role as Creative Consultant, so when we were looking towards appointing a Head of Creative, Andy was a natural fit.’

Along with Andy, we’ve welcomed three new employees to the High Street TV team. Will, James and Jill have brought a wealth of experience to the company, and they will work together to strengthen our brand identity through fresh and innovative creative content”


Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc.

Business Talk RTG, Twitter, Twitter Inc.

Entirely Yorkshire‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc.

“Newly appointed team at High Street TV” – Entirely Yorkshire

High Street TV


“Free illustration: Shopping, Final Sale, Shopping Cart – Free Image on Pixabay – 1163506” – Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay (28 January 2016)

BLACK FRIDAY: Don’t let it become ‘black eye’ day

VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digitalhub

The American commercial tradition of Black Friday has made its presence felt on our shores and high streets these past couple of year. One of the most important days for sales and footfall in the retail calendar, Black Friday is when shops slash the prices of items like white goods, clothes and electricals by as much as 50-70%. While Black Friday is a blessing for bargain hunters, it has also become notorious for scenes of absolute mayhem, with videos surfacing of shoppers tussling with and climbing over each other to hook that last widescreen smart TV. In some cases, stores participating in Black Friday sales had been forced to call police in to quell fights and near riots.

Despite the bad publicity around some incidents on Black Friday, a recent survey of 2,000 adults produced by the Nationwide building society found that one in ten Britons is still prepared to brave the crowds and stand toe-to-toe with fellow shoppers to bag those once-a-year heavily reduced must-haves. The study also found that many shoppers are prepared to tough it for the best bargains, with many survey respondents expecting to awaken their aggressive streaks as they hit the high streets for this year’s Black Friday events on November 27.

(c) SWNS digital/72Point


The Nationwide survey figures also show that in 2014, one in three adults made a trip to the shopping centre on Black Friday. This year, the average shopper is expected to spend £176. Altogether, customers are predicted to spend £120 million on debit cards alone, more than on December 19th, the last Friday before Christmas, when shopkeepers and retailers expect to recieve the most takings as people scour the shops for last-minute festive gifts.

Phil Smith, head of current accounts at Nationwide, which commissioned the study, said: “For many, Black Friday coincides with the last payday before Christmas, so they use it to kick-start and supplement their Christmas shopping.

“And with only a limited number of the best deals available, tensions can spill over, resulting in arguments over goods usually associated with panic buying.

‘’This means that in the cold light of day, what seemed to be a good bargain could end up being a waste of money.

“Customers should consider doing a little bit of research and planning beforehand, as many stores will advertise offers ahead of time.

‘’In doing so, we can ensure we’re buying the goods we actually want at a discounted price rather than being tempted by the lure of a bargain on something we don’t particularly need.”

The Nationwide survey also predicted the most popular Black Friday items shoppers will want on their lists include home appliances such as microwaves, coffee machines, and blenders, laptops, computer and video games and televisions.

However reduced items often quickly run out of stock, leading to customers duking it out in the aisles and jackets and hair being pulled. The Nationwide’s shopping poll discovered that men are nearly twice as likely to clash over stuff on the shelf as women. One in eight (13%) were prepared to get into an argument with another shopper, compared with 7% of surveyed female respondents. Ironically for the arguments over the last television or CD player that will be occurring in stores up and down the British Isles, the poll also discovered that one in eight adults (13%) will end up returning goods for refunds.

In fact, Black Friday could result in thousands of returned items, as more than half confessed to surrendering to impulse purchases on the day.

Nationwide’s Phil Smith added: “This Black Friday, people should consider putting money aside for something they actually want rather than simply buying something because it is listed as a bargain.

‘’The benefits of impulse saving can have a positive impact on our finances. And for those who make big home appliance purchases, consider extending your warranty to cover all eventualities.’’

Several leading high street names including Curry’s, Argos, GAME and John Lewis are already gearing up with in-store Black Friday linked promotions and figures for online shopping too are expected to reach stellar proportions. Last year, £810 million was spend online alone by UK shoppers.

“Don’t Let Black Friday Turn Into Black Eye Day” – SWNS digital/72Point (25 November 2015)

GIFT FOR A BOY?: Young child gets supermarket to remove sexist sign

Maggie Cole, a seven-year-old resident of Poole, Dorsetsouthern England has struck a blow for gender equality in the war against gendered stereotypes after managing to get her local supermarket to bin what she considered to be a sexist sign advertising a clock in their toy department, the Metro newspaper reports.

She stumbled across the sign while shopping with her mother Karen at the Tesco supermarket near their home in the seaside town. The cardboard sign, which was affixed to a shelf in the children’s’ toy aisle, had been erected by the retailer to advertise a Marvel Comics alarm clock. Underneath a picture of the product were the words “Fun gifts for boys” printed in bold type. Maggie was so annoyed by the store’s biased suggestion of the suitability of the clock, that she alerted her mother who took a picture of her daughter with the offending sign and tweeted it.

The plucky youngster then complained to Tesco, saying that she would “not stand for the notion boys and girls liked specific toys” the Metro reported. The supermarket responded by removing the sign, scoring a victory for gender equality and many parents’ struggle to remind retailers of the right for children to choose toys and games according to their preferences, not their gender. Maggie is said to be a huge fan of superheroes, in particular BatmanSupermanSpider Man and Wonder Woman, and was quoted by Metro as describing the supermarket as ‘very stupid’.

Karen Cole tweeted a picture of Maggie looking displeased next to the sign, along with the caption “My superhero loving 7yo daughter not impressed when she spotted this sign in @Tesco today @LetToysBeToys” The @LetToysBeToys handle belongs to an activist group, Let Toys Be Toys, which campaigns against gender-based stereotyping in the toy and marketing industries. Maggie herself has long made it clear that she believes that toys are “for all people”, according to Metro.

A Tesco spokesperson later commented “The sign has been removed and we’re sorry if it caused any confusion“.

In February 2014, another seven-year-old, Charlotte Benjamin, wrote a letter to manufacturer Lego criticising the Denmark-based firm for gender segregation and the heavy bias of the company towards young male customers, while having few, and inevitably pink, options for young girls. In the letter, which went viral after it was republished on the internet, Charlotte wrote eloquently “All the girls (in the Lego play sets) did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks.

Retailers selling toys and children’s gifts have traditionally marketed different toys to boys and girls, while many toy manufacturers usually market blue toys to male children and pink ones to female children, although increasing activism against differential gender roles has reduced the appetite for this form of marketing among consumers. Many British parents now opt to bring up their children with gender-neutral toys and games.

Increasingly, parents and advocates of gender rights have brought toy manufacturers and purveyors to task for enforcing what they believe are stereotypes of men and women via only marketing different toys to boys and girls. The backlash against ‘dolls for girls and trucks for boys’ has seen many UK shops no longer stock toys by gender. Studies have shown that forcing children to play with toys ‘expected’ for their gender can have an impact on their career choices as adults, as well as pressuring them to follow societal stereotypes.

In June this year, UK Equalities Minister, Jenny Wilmott, appealed to the country’s retailers to stop sorting toys by gender, claiming such segregation would put off girls from entering traditionally male-dominated career paths such as science and engineering, according to The Guardian newspaper. In an interview with the paper, Wilmott said “Children should be able to make their own choices over which toys they want to play with, without them being labelled as ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’“. The minister also proposed that toy and other product catalogues should categorise playthings by topics such as construction, science or beauty, rather than in broad categories for boys and girls. Other Members of Parliament however, have accused toy firms of ‘aggressive gender segregation’ and that their obsession with pink kitchen sets, princess dresses and vacuum cleaners for girls is putting them off dreaming of being mathematicians, scientists or professors and harming their confidence levels, says the Daily Mail. Many toy aisles in the United Kingdom are little more than shelves of pink or blue, with one particular gender being aimed at, while toy manufacturers have been accused of using pink and blue themed and gender biased marketing techniques to put pressure on parents and carers to buy into stereotypes and also to charge premiums on certain products.

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Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc.
“Girl, 7, gets Tesco to change sign that says clock is ‘gift for a boy’” – Jimmy Nsubuga, Metro/Associated Newspapers Ltd (25 November 2014)
“Stop shops sorting toys by gender, says equalities minister” – Rowena Mason, The Guardian – News – World News – Gender/Guardian News and Media Limited (27 June 2014)
“Toy firms accused of ‘aggressive gender segregation’ with pink obsession blamed for putting girls off maths and science” – Matt Chorley, Mail Online News/Associated Newspapers Ltd (5 February 2014)
Karen Cole, Twitter, Twitter Inc.


TESCO CUSTARD CREAM SPREAD: A new take on a nation’s favourite biscuit

The humble custard cream biscuit is a much-loved institution for teatime in the U.K. Consisting simply of a vanilla custard flavoured filling sandwiched between two elaborately-decorated oblong biscuits, the custard cream has long been loved for its wholesome flavour and its duplicity in eating methods. Many just simply take a bite out of the biscuits while a significant minority will separate the biscuits in half and lick off the filling. The custard cream biscuit also lends itself superbly to that other British teatime institution – being dunked in a cup of tea or milk.

Supermarket retailer Tesco has decided to make its own take on these homely custard delights by launching its own custard cream spread based on the filling. A single jar contains 400 grams of the sweet custardy goodness and is being retailed for the price of £1.99, according to Tesco’s website. The main ingredients of the product if you are curious are custard cream biscuits (37%), rapeseed oil, sugar, palm oil, natural vanilla flavouring, and hazelnuts. Various media outlets have already hailed the spread as a revolutionary change for the average British lunchtime.

The new product, which comes in a peanut butter style jar, has a yellow plastic lid and carries a label emblazoned with the Tesco logo on a background of the highly ornate face of a custard cream biscuit. It has already become a huge hit with the store’s customers and also has practically blown up the internet as well, with popular news feed site Buzzfeed describing the spread as “a revolution in biscuits”. The spread understandably makes a good filling for custard cream biscuits, but Twitter users have reportedly used it to stick together two Digestives too, while one particularly adventurous person added porridge oats to the jar to make a custard cream oatmeal breakfast. It has also been seen in currant buns and in bagels. It also looks like it would make a good filling for sandwiches or a dip for other kinds of biscuits as well, if Twitter is anything to go by. 

Not everyone has been so enthusiastic about the spread. Some has criticised the spread’s nutritional value and its soft consistency, while one critic claimed that the supermarket chain was trying to imitate the United States. Another described it as “all kinds of wrong”, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

Tesco have also launched other spreads in its British biscuits series, including a chocolate flavoured version replicating the inviting taste of the Bourbon biscuit, which is similar to custard creams but in an entirely chocolaty format. However apparently this spread has not been as popular. You can also buy one that tastes of chocolate chip cookies or Oreos. Basic chocolate spreads made for use in sandwiches have been long established in the UK, with Nestle and Cadbury’s being leaders in the field. The Italian hazelnut concoction Nutella, manufactured by Ferrero SpA, also enjoys cult popularity among British shoppers, but Tesco are the first food manufacturer to market a spread directly influenced by the U.K.’s culinary traditions.

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“Tesco Is Selling Custard Cream Biscuit Spread And Life Will Never Be The Same” – Patrick Smith, Buzzfeed/BuzzFeed, Inc (31 October 2014)
“Tesco Custard Cream Spread 400G” – Tesco
“Is Tesco’s new custard cream biscuit spread genius or madness?” – Leah Hyslop, The Telegraph – Home – Food and Drink – Food and Drink News/Telegraph Media Group Limited (31 October 2014)
“New Tesco Custard Cream Biscuit Spread” –  Katherine GG, Grocery Gems (5 September 2014)
BuzzFeed UK, Twitter/Twitter Inc. (31 October 2014)

BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: Vijay turns 30

Say R.I.P. to your amazing twenties

As you enter your boring thirties

Say goodbye to your crazy ways

Say hello to monotonous days

Bid adieu to irresponsibility

As you strive towards accountability

Don’t worry, I am just fooling around

Don’t let this rhyme bring you down

You will have the best time at thirty

So chill out, relax and take it easy

Happy 30th birthday


Yesterday, Saturday 4th October 2014, I officially kissed my eventful years of being a twenty-something goodbye and said “Oh hi…er…Hello” to my third decade and thirtieth year of milling around on this green, green planet. Needless to say, while you cannot have a cat in hell’s chance of stopping the advances of age, it still was a bit of shock to me. I am actually going to be 30. Thirty!!. That’s a big chunky number. Part of me was telling myself that now I’ve reached the big Three-Zero, maturity and reflection on life was the name of the game, then there was a part of me that felt almost geriatric. Fair enough that I already got my first few white hairs some years back and being tall brings some aches and pains, but this morning I woke up with some noticeable leg cramps. I’m surprised I wasn’t dreaming of dusty suitcases from trips to the hospital, long post office queues and those god-awful 50+ life insurance adverts that infest daytime TV. But thirty is hardly old-age pensioner. It is a decade that will hopefully bring big changes into my life. Marriage, settling down and starting a family, being hired into a better-paid position (hopefully in the media), moving into my first flat,…and many smaller milestones that will turn when and whether. Being thirty is a transition point, a halfway house between the carefree and carelessness of youth and the responsibility, organisation and enhanced maturity of older adulthood.

My thirtieth birthday was a small and private affair with family, with of course many well wishes from friends and acquaintances new and old, and special greetings messages from the extended family in Mauritius. On Friday night (the 3rd of October) I visited my mother, who is recovering from a recent leg operation, to see how she was doing and to have a special dinner with the family. We ordered the food from a local takeaway and I made sure to get my favourite. A lamb doner kebab. This one was tasty but did reek of onions. Sadly there was no cake but I got lots of dosh and a gift box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and most importantly the love and best wishes of my family together. My 5-year-old niece even pulled out a little gift from her jacket pocket as she came to hug me and wish me a happy birthday in advance. The gift was a small blue toy car. She must have chosen it especially for me. Once I get a decent-sized place of my own to live in, her toy auto is going on the mantelpiece or shelf. I then went with my niece and my sister to her place, where I spent a short while with her and her husband, before heading off to my home.

Come the big day I was as happy as Larry. I don’t know who Larry is, but I was feeling great. On Facebook, I arranged with my brothers to go to the nearby Westfield Stratford City shopping centre to go bowling and then later, the cinema. It started off a bit crazy though. My brother didn’t have his phone with him as it was in a repair shop having its speaker fixed. He had been having no end of problems with that phone. While chatting to him on Facebook, I had also forgotten to say to him exactly where we were going to meet up as Stratford is  a big place. Cue me waiting like a bum at the area’s bus station for one and a half hours wondering where the hell my brother was. He had been dropped off by car and was also planning to get some clothes shopping in, with the money he received for his own birthday, which falls one week before mine. After frantically Whatsapp messaging my other siblings to try to get to the bottom of this missing persons inquiry, I decided to head up the short walk across the glass-sided bridge to the Westfield shopping district. I started hunting around the nearby clothes shops to see if I could spot the missing brother. No luck. I scanned the crowds, hoping for a glimpse of him. Nah, not happening. Then something told me to head to the Vue cinema that sits on the third floor of the shopping mall. I thought it unlikely he would be there, but I took a chance anyway. Long story short, once I arrived at the picture house, I saw my brother on the balcony of the cinema’s courtyard. He had borrowed another shopper’s phone and was calling home. At the same time as I saw him, one of my sisters messaged me to say where he was. A very strange and almost psychic experience I think. Thankfully we was reunited and went to the bowling alley. All Star Lanes, which is based a very short walk from the cinema, is basically a bowling alley for all ages. It also has an American diner-themed cocktail and milkshake bar with a restaurant serving typical diner food. We booked our lane for the two of us (my other brother was sorting out transport to arrive later to watch the movie). Unfortunately we were told by reception that there would be a twenty minute wait before the lane would be free to use and they armed with a buzzer that looked like an oversized car alarm key. Me and bro decided to kill time by going to the clothes shops. We visited adidas, Topman while my brother tried to find a hoodie he liked. We saw a lot of cool and ridiculous stuff. Ridiculous in both price and aesthetic appeal. Sadly brother could not find the hoodie he wanted. The buzzer apparently went off, but I felt and heard nothing, though I was holding it in my hand to the point my palms were sweaty and probably fusing with the plastic. 

(c) via Giphy

We reported back to All Stars and because we had missed the buzz, we had to wait another ten minutes. Me and little brother went to the milkshake bar and ordered a shake each. He ordered vanilla, I got one flavoured with Oreos, in keeping with the American theme. Well mainly really because I have a primal weakness for Oreo-flavoured milky beverages. It was delicious. I was even scooping out the cookie dough like sludge from the bottom of the glass with my straw and eating it because, blimey, it was THAT good. Me and little bro had the third lane from the left and while he was a bowling veteran, this embarrassingly was my first time. I even had to figure out which fingers went into which holes in the ball. I had fortunately played enough bowling of the virtual variety that that experience helped me pick the real thing very quickly. Although little bro triumphed over me, beating my score of 74 points with his haul of 96, we both managed to do I think around three strikes combined, with myself demolishing all the pins on my third go on the lane. It was quite stuffy in the alley though and not even the ice-cold shake could cool me down, but it was a brilliant time.

We sauntered around some more outlets selling designer garments. This time we hit up the Nike Shop and admired their sportswear, their mind-boggling array of trainers, including a ‘trophy case’ display of them pinned to a wall. We saw lurid pink ones, technologically-advanced ones, stylish ones and even ones with holograms and ones that were fitted in material that looked like the metallic skins of bluebottle flies. I saw a few Nike brand basketballs lying around and was tempted to dribble like the great Shaquille and score a triple-pointer. But being booted kicking and screaming (haha, booted) out of Nike by security is not the best way to remember your 30th birthday.

Towards the end of the night, my other brother finally arrived after catching a train from further east and we had booked our tickets. The film we got into was “A Walk Among The Tombstones” starring Liam Neeson. Obviously as it’s a new film, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I will say that he plays a washed-out former policeman. Divorced and trying to stay sober, he operates as a private detective. A drug trafficker calls on his services to help locate the kidnappers who took his wife. If you are planning to see this film, keep an eye for TJ. He’s hilarious.

My thirtieth birthday may not have been as monumental as other peoples’, but it was a tight family affair. It put a smile on my face and joy in my heart. Reading the many social media messages from my friends and family, plus the texts and calls was the real icing on my birthday cake. Thank you to everyone who made it special. You all made my thirties much, much sweeter.

P.S. For the Half-Eaten Mind’s regular readers on WordPress who were wondering what happened to my usual Saturday article, now you know why!!

Here is a small selection of pictures from my birthday:-

Photo 1: A birthday ‘e-card’ made by my cousin Vipul using some of my Facebook pictures. The theme he ran with was ‘shisha’. One of my hobbies, although it’s been a while since I made an acquantaince with a hookah (stupid snigger). If you’re wondering, my usual flavour is double apple, but I’ve done everything colour in the flavour rainbow, from chocolate to melon.
Photo 2: The toy sports car (Cadillac…Lambo?) gifted to me by my niece Shaniya.
Photo 3: An ‘old chap’ greeting card given by my sister and her family. She just loves to call me ‘grandpa’ now *rolls eyes* *laughs*. I really like the vintage look though, even if it makes me feel a smidgen dessicated.
Photo 4: Another greeting card from my Mum and siblings. Nice blue metallic finish that matches well with Shaniya’s car in Photo 2. I’m seeing stars!!
Photos 5 and 6: Some night time pictures I took of the buildings at Westfield Centre in Stratford City as we waited for my other brother to arrive. The shopping centre does look amazing at dusk.
“30th Birthday Poems” –
“Happy Birthday 30th” –
The Half-Eaten Mind/Vijay Shah, Flickr

HUMOUR MOMENT: A cheesy joke from the Co-Operative

(c) The Co-Operative Food


Q. What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

A. Nacho Cheese!

This Saturday’s Humour Moment is dedicated to the cheesy joke. These are the sort of mildly hilarious jokes that make you titter and groan in equal measure. Humour-wise they smell worse than an entire overturned lorry of Stinking Bishop fromage on the North Circular, but are incredibly useful for entertaining the little ones as they grapple with their Cheestrings, Babybels and Dairylea Lunchables.

This picture was originally published by the Co-operative group of companies from the U.K. The Co-operative Group is an ethical company that is involved in various services such as funeral care, insurance, banking and retail. It was shared on the Twitter account of the Co-operative’s Food division which runs a chain of low-cost supermarkets in Britain. The Co-Operative Food are running a competition for ‘Tell A Joke Day’ where customers are invited to contribute their own food-related jokes, with the best ‘culinary comedian’ receiving a voucher entitling them to a discount on their groceries. Employees and shoppers often affectionately call the institution the ‘Co-Op’ for short, and their supermarkets are a well-loved and long-established face on the British high street. I used to live in Forest Gate (east London) for two years and our nearest supermarket was a Somerfield branch in Woodgrange Road. The Co-Op bought the Somerfield chain in around 2009, and the Somerfield stores took on the conglomerate’s branding and shopfront design. I always found their food to be cheap and usually of high quality although there was not much choice in the Woodgrange store, due to its smaller than average size. I began following their Twitter account a year after I moved out of Forest Gate for nostalgic reasons.

While not the biggest fan of cheesy jokes, I would rarely say no to a warm bowl filled to the brim with cheesy nachos drizzled with salsa and herby sauce. When I was working at my old office in Victoria, central London, a group of us colleagues would visit a local pub, the Witton Arms, where we would share our company with a complimentary bowl of nachos infused with melted cheddar, salsa and chopped jalapenos. I relished these nachos, as the softness and creamy taste of the melted cheese was an intriguing contrast with the crunchy texture of the crisps. The salsa helped to give a Mexican taste sensation with its spicy tomato aroma contrasting the more subdued flavours of the cheesy nachos. The nachos were high in demand as the beers made us hungry and were a good conversation starter as well as a food starter – although thankfully not the inspiration for any dodgy jokes. I haven’t yet tried to make this delicious, yet simple Mexican dish at home, but I can tell you this sort of snack would be ideal for any party, especially birthdays and informal get-togethers. Goes great with movie nights too, so you can give the popcorn and microwave a rest.

Here’s a bunch of more incredibly lame cheese themed jokes that will melt your mind….:

Q: What happened after an explosion at a French cheese factory?

A: All that was left was de brie.

Q: What do you call cheese that is sad?

A: Blue cheese.

Q: How do you get a mouse to smile?

A: Say cheese! 

Q: Which genre of music appeals to most cheeses?

A: R’n’Brie

Q: When should you go on a cheese diet?

A: If you need to cheddar a few pounds

Q: What is a cannibal’s favourite cheese?

A: Limburger

Q: Which is the most religious cheese?

A: Swiss, because it is holy.

Q: What hotel do mice stay in ?

A: The Stilton

Q: What did the Cheese salesman say?

A: That cheese may be Gouda, but this one is Feta!

Q: What group of cheese has been known to fly?

A: Curds of prey! 


Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter
“Cheese Jokes” –
The Co-operativeFood, Twitter



TESCO BROMLEY-BY-BOW: A fresher, brighter store

By Vijay Shah

Once again we at the Half-Eaten Mind decided to investigate what the postman/woman left for the office on the doormat (as per usual). As it so happens I am a loyal Tesco shopper. Although I do like to take my chances with the large Morissons in Stratford Central, my family usually swears by the store where ‘every little helps’..and that is a tradition that I have dutifully kept up. Well as we all know, loyal customers need loyal loyalty card schemes, and I have been a member of Tesco’s Clubcard service for a good many years. Every month, Tesco’s Clubcard marketing division likes to send a few money-off or extra points vouchers my way. Which I don’t mind at all, after all it’s marginally better than the reams of junk mail my bank always send. It’s a good thing I am a firm believer in recycling!.

About 3 days ago, a leaflet came to my attention announcing the revamping of Tesco’s Bromley-by-Bow store. I have never been there, so unfortunately I can’t tell you what it was like before. There’s a few branches closer to me, as flooded with supermarkets and pound shops as we are here, but the senior executives and developers at Tesco plc HQ have made a substantial effort it seems…they even enclosed £18 (around $28 US) of coupons…unfortunately they cannot be used at the nearby Tesco Metro in Green Street 😦 .

But HEM is meant to be useful and informative…so if you live in Tower Hamlets or can be bothered to drive a few extra miles to do your shopping, then this brief article will tell you what the new store has to offer.

Tesco Bromley-by-Bow new store mailshot
The mailshot announcing Tesco’s refurbished store in E3. (c) V. Shah/HEM

The paint is dry and the shelves are filled. We’re delighted to announce your new look store is now ready.Your fresher, brighter store means we can now offer you even more choice under one roof. From your weekly essentials to treats for your family, you’re sure to find whatever you’re after…” (Stuart Dickinson, Store Manager)

So there you have it, Mr. Dickinson proudly announces that Tesco’s supermarket in Bromley-by-Bow, east London, has had a makeover. The most likely reason is that as much of east London has been spruced up for the Olympics this month, they thought to do up Tesco here as well. Along with the blindingly brand new buildings, stadia and roads that have sprung up in this area, it is all to attract and stupefy not only the locals but also Olympics visitors and tourists. The newly refurbished store now boasts the following shoppers’ treats:

A ‘World Foods’ section boasting selected product ranges from west Africa, the Caribbean islands, Asia, Ireland and Latin America. This is one of the perks of living in such a vibrant, multicultural city, and foodies and aspiring chefs will be smiling from ear to ear. It will also mean that athletes and tourists from abroad will feel a little less homesick.

A halal meats counter for local Muslim communities. The in-store butchers offers a wide variety of meats and poultry, slaughtered under Islamic rites, and judging from the leaflet picture, looks very fresh and affordable. The facility is run by staff from the National Halal Centre in conjunction with Tesco. NHC were established in 1954, and claim to be the pioneers of halal meat trading in Europe. They are definitely worth a look if you are stocking up for a family dinner or a sizzling summer halal BBQ!.

A fishmonger and obligatory well-stocked fish counter. If you like your fish boneless and carefully filleted, the expert in livestock of the sea will happily attend to your every whim.

Wannabe Homer Simpsons will want to make a beeline for the Krispy Kreme Doughnut cabinet with its delectable range of glazed, iced, and packed-to-the-gills-with-raspberry-jam round cakey offerings.

In addition to doughnuts, there are also snacks, sandwiches and drinks available for people who need to eat on the go.

You can also expect your usual Tesco fare and a wide choice of private brand foods, household items and other goods. Tesco are adept at giving customers a varied choice. Expect to see brand-new fittings, lots of space, and clearly demarcated shelves…and hopefully a comfortable shopping experience that will leave you walking through the car park with several heavy bags of shopping and a great big grin on your face.

The store is within easy walking distance of Bromley-by-Bow Underground station and is near the new Olympic Stadium in Stratford. There should be ample parking space and the store also has its own on-site petrol station whose kiosk for cash payments and additional purchases is open Mon-Sat 8 am to 10 pm, Sunday 8 am to 8 pm. The PayatPump cashless service is however open 24 hours.


Hancock Road, Bow, London E3 3DA        Tel: 08456 779085


Monday-Saturday 6 am – midnight; Sunday 10 am – 4 pm

An artist’s rendition of the new Tesco site. (c) 2011 CABE