Catering merger falls flat

Saint Homobonus
19 January 2015

I’m sure some of you treated yourselves to a few glasses of bubbly over the festive period. But did you pause to consider the quality of what you were imbibing?

It was precisely this worry among peers that scuppered the establishment of a joint catering provider for House of Commons and House of Lords, according to a senior official.

At a select committee hearing in December Sir Malcolm Jack, former clerk of the House of Commons, told MPs: “The Lords feared that the quality of Champagne would not be as good if they chose a joint service”.

Jack Straw, the chairman of the committee, couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing. “Did you make that up? Is that true?” he asked. It was true, he was told.

As one MP pointed out: “You can never underestimate the capacity for self-parody in this place.”

Fries Emergency

A dockworkers strike on the West coast of the US has had an unintended consequence – Japan is now facing a national shortage of French fries.

The industrial action has affected a number of chains in the ‘family restaurant’ sector, which serve a wide variety of foods, including Western cuisine.

The situation has become so acute that the restaurant chain Gusto plans to airlift in 200 tons of chips to avoid supply shortages, Kyodo News reported.

Feast on a Budget

I know procurement professionals love getting the best deal, but I would find it hard to believe any of you got a better one on your Christmas dinner than blogger Lesley Cooper.

On her blog thriftylesley.com, which specialises in providing cheap meals, she managed to put together a full Christmas dinner for just 84 pence per head.

In spite of the low price, Cooper doesn’t skimp on the ingredients. The dinner contains roast pork, potatoes, parsnips, red cabbage, stuffing and gravy.

A notable blaze

It seems the Chinese have taken the phrase ‘having money to burn’ rather literally.

A power plant in Luoyang City in Henan province is burning bank notes to provide electricity. The notes have been returned by commercial banks in China because they are no longer suitable for circulation.

Burning the currency, a first for the country, can generate 1.32 million kilowatt hours a year of electricity, the equivalent of burning 4,000 tonnes of coal.

Lagging and tagging

Hopefully you have by now recovered from any seasonal excess. A survey of more than 2,000 Britons determined that the UK’s ‘peak hangover day’ took place on 12 December, with 9.35am pinpointed as the most hungover moment of the entire year.

The average hangover lasts for a whopping nine hours, 45 minutes. And 30 per cent of those polled said they would spend most of the following day un-tagging themselves from embarrassing pictures posted on social media.

Fancy a cuppa?

If you are still feeling the lasting effects of the festive period, perhaps a nice cup of tea would do you good?

A study by Unilever, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, has found in addition to being a calming influence, a cup of tea can improve the mood and enhance your creative problem-solving ability. The research examined 150 tea drinkers given tasks to complete following a cuppa. They outperformed those who only had water to drink.

“We suspect this effect is down to a combination of elements, including the taste and aroma during consumption and aspects of tea preparation that force you to simply take a break from other activities,” said Unilever scientist Suzanne Einother.

Remain resolute

Almost one in five UK adults plan to change their job or start their own business this year as part of resolutions they’ve made for 2015.

According to a poll of 1,700 people by Angels Den, a firm that links entrepreneurs with potential investors, 18 per cent plan to find a new job or change their career and 11 per cent intend to start their own company.

These resolutions were listed sixth and eighth in a list of the top 10, headed by the intention to get fitter and healthier (63 per cent).

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