Friday, 13 February 2009

Friday 12/02/09

It’s Friday the 13th. Also, if you add the 2 and the 9 from 2009 and add the number of zeros, you also arrive at 13. Spooky (cue the theme to The Twilight Zone)!

The Domino's pizza franchise chain has given the go-ahead for a halal-only outlet in Hall Green, Birmingham, where a large proportion of the population is Muslim. Some customers have claimed the new policy discriminates against non-Muslims.

My first reaction on hearing of the complaints was to think they should get a life – if you want a pizza with pork just go to another outlet. However, on reflection there is an argument that says Domino’s is a recognised brand and with that brand comes a certain expectation of what you can buy there – it’s what branding is all about. To arrive and suddenly discover you can only get halal spicy beef sausage, roast tandoori chicken, halal pepperoni and halal cured turkey detracts from the brand experience and what Domino’s is trying to communicate through its brand strategy.

You should be able to visit any one of the thousands of Domino’s outlets and know exactly what they sell and how awful it is. Fine – have a tasty halal-only variant, but for God’s sake don’t call it Domino’s. It’s like going into a Travel Lodge and discovering your bed is comfy and someone has remembered to restock your tea tray with teabags AND sugar; like discovering that your local metropolitan Post Office doesn’t have a queue that takes 45 minutes to get to the front of; that H Samuel’s sells tasteful jewellery – it’s simply not what you’ve come to expect from the brand. Trust me – I’m a marketing expert.

Yesterday, during a moment of ennui, I continued my skimming of other people’s blogs. Don’t women bloggers twitter? With a few notable exceptions, they twitter on about nothing of any consequence whatsoever, yet receive literally thousands of comments in response telling them how clever, witty and beautiful they are. Their sole contribution to the blogosphere for that day may be a picture of a kid having a crap on a potty, or their dog asleep, yet the response is positively effusive and gushing with praise for its artistic merit. I find it incomprehensible. Women seem intellectually impressed by the most mundane and banal trivia about which they simply feel compelled to post a comment of appreciation and start engaging in mutual back-slapping. Men, on the other hand, rarely say a bloody word, lurk in the background like sullen Neanderthals and give the odd sign of grudging recognition when badgered to within an inch of their lives.

One woman whose blog I alighted on and had a vocabulary substantially greater than the average twitterer, had done a psychological profile of women on the basis of the vast variety of handbags they are able to purchase. I can’t do that for men – we have one kind of wallet, and despite a huge variety of possible colours (black or brown) and a vast diversity of leathers (calf or pig), they basically all look alarmingly identical to the example below. Come on - if you have a wallet that’s substantially different from the template above, own up! When all’s said and done, the standard design serves the purpose of virtually every man on the planet (except possibly the French and the Italians, who sport man-bags); it holds notes, it holds credit cards, it holds photos of your kids and at a push you can put a condom or two in one of the pockets in case you strike lucky. What other function could you possibly want a wallet to perform? Adornment is superfluous as the damned thing is sitting in your hip pocket or inside jacket pocket for 99.9% of the time.

Hay corrected the error in my observation above by pointing out that young surfer dudes and students would not be seen dead with an old bloke leather wallet, preferring instead a multi-coloured, hi-viz Gortex device with zips, Velcro and emblazoned with subversive logos and used to store their plaited wrist bands, ecstasy tabs, 20,000 Turkish Lira note and student railcards.

Tomorrow is St Valentine’s Day. I thought I’d just remind the men among my readership so they can rush out at lunchtime to get a card and avoid the icy stares for the remainder of the weekend. I’m not even going to be around for it – buggering off to Cornwall to see one of my sons at sparrow’s fart tomorrow and won’t be back till Sunday evening. Got the card earlier in the week, but it took me ages to find one under two quid. Will arrange this evening for something vaguely alcoholic and fizzy to be discovered in the fridge on the morrow. Called in on two florists yesterday evening but was horrified at the prices they’re charging - I object to being ripped off just because it’s Valentine’s Day. £50 buys you what on any other day of the week would cost half that, added to which the caravan is so warm with the wood burner that flowers would last a pico-second before wilting. No – a good bottle of fizz is much better value for money and something I know Hay will appreciate more.

St Val seems to be a bit of a strange cove in that no bugger actually knows who he was. The Catholics, who are generally acknowledged as the keepers of the saints, recognised some 11 St Valentines, not one of which seems to have had anything to do with cards, flowers or the 14th of February, but everything to do with gruesome deaths as martyrs. Most of these so-called martyrs were topped for no other reason than the fact they were rabble rousers and thoroughly nasty people who went around telling everyone they were sinners and condemned to hell. Not at all surprising they were martyred.

The Romans had an unusually enlightened view of religion; as long as it didn’t frighten the horses and old ladies or subvert the rule of law, you could believe in whatever deity you wanted to and all religions were tolerated in Rome. Strange then that the Christians had such a bad press; there was obviously a reason for it. Most of the supposed Roman persecution prior to Diocletian’s Great Persecution was a complete myth. Certainly there is no verified account of Christians ever being fed to lions. There was too much of a whiff of sanctimoniousness about them for them to be considered compatible with a lion’s digestive system. Diocletian simply had enough of them and got fed up to the back teeth with their meddling and constant whining about atheist chariot adverts.

Iggy Pop! Insurance advert! The words ‘sold out’ come to mind. He’s the last person I thought I’d ever see in an advert for car insurance. It’s unthinkable and utterly preposterous – a bit like the thought of ……… oh, let’s think of the most improbable things ever – say the image of the chamois-leather-faced, flaxen-haired rock God, Robert Plant, singing a duet with MoR, easy-listening jazz-strumpet, Alison Kraus, or parka wearing uber-mod, Roger Daltry opening a trout farm, or glittery, platform wearing Noddy Holder allowing his voice to be used for the lift announcements at the Walsall New Art Gallery - something that simply could never happen in a month of Sundays.

My God, that was a long sentence.

Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician calling for free speech while simultaneously calling for the banning of the Qur’an. Sounds like a logical paradox. I think we have to realise that in an era when cultures are being thrown together, free speech has to take an equal position with tolerance. However, tolerance should not become the altar on which the right to criticise is sacrificed. There can be no such thing as unfettered free speech. Similarly there should be no such thing as total censorship. However, I see no justification for Zillog (see Wednesday’s post) having Wilders deported. Could it have been due to him wearing clogs and eating lots of cheese.

I’m going to give you a kōan to contemplate:

If you have ice cream I will give you some. If you have no ice cream I will take it away from you.

It’s called the ice cream kōan.

It’s Friday the 13th. Also, if you add the 2 and the 9 from 2009 and add the number of zeros, you also arrive at 13. Spooky (cue the theme to The Twilight Zone)! I’m thinking of giving up blogging and becoming a vegetarian mystic. Comments to the usual address.


  1. Today is also 1234567890 in the Unix world (see Rachel Cotteril's post on the topic at:

    And, of course, my birthday.

    Thanks for coming to visit. Since I am charmed by misogynistic men, I will be back.

  2. I'm tempted to say QED, but I won't.


    Happy Birthday Jeanne!

  3. I agree with your sentiment about the Halal-only Dominos, but I would be more inclined to agree with the argument that it discrimiates against non-Muslims. I guess the marketing argument holds true, and after tasting one of their pizzas recently I'd certainly say they needed to keep all the customers they can, but still, I don't see why I should be "forced" to eat Halal meat, or else find somewhere else to eat altogether. I'm sure if someone gave the same ultimatum to a Muslim (using non-Halal meat, of course) they'd be sued for racial discrimination faster than a Bush fire kills squirrels.

    I totally agree with your ideas concerning wallets. I've got a black leather wallet that looks remarkably like the one in your picture, and I have had it (the only one I've ever had, I might add) for the last 11 years. It works, it lasts a long time, and I'm happy with it.

    I have to admit, though, that I do also cary a man-bag. I hate that name, but it seems to have caught on. I was more inspired by Jack Bauer than the pill-popping, crazy-eyed, emo-styled student types, although it was only three years ago that I was one.

    I'm not really a fan of Valentines Day, although I will buy into it for the sake of my other half, if I know that's what they'd like. I just need an other half now, and I'll be sorted.

  4. Dom,

    In what way does halal discriminate against non-Muslims? Does your religion forbid you to eat halal? Does ritual slaying and uttering an incantation over the beast while it's bled to death go against some deep philosophical ideology? Are you perhaps a Bacon Buttyist?

    So you have a black leather wallet - now there's a surprise. Who, pray, is Jack Bauer (I don't watch much Coronation Street)?

  5. I don't think it has to be my religion telling me not to eat Halal meat for it to be discrimination if I'm forced to do so. If I didn't agree with the way animal was killed, for example, then I might choose not to eat Halal meat for that reason. But is that reason any less valid than not eating certain meats because it's against my religion? I just don't agree with the decision to change a product or service in such a way that in order to satisfy the "needs" of the few, the needs of the many are ignored, or at the very least, assumed to be of less importance, which is the impression I get when I hear stories like this. And I know you said that the outlet was located in a predominantly Muslim community, but as you also say, Dominios is a well established brand with outlets all over the country, and before you know it, there'll be Halal meat in all of them, supposedly because "most people won't know the difference". I've heard people actually say that to me in various food places, in areas where there are large Muslim populations. (Un)fortunately, most people wouldn't know or care what they're eating, so most of the meats used are Halal simply because it's good for business.

    I don't watch Coronation Street either. I can't stand any soaps really. Jack Bauer is the starring character in 24, which is an excellent series if you ever get the chance to watch it. Among other things, he just happens to be fairly well-known for wearing a man-bag, although his contains a gun rather than a bus pass.

  6. Ah - there's the rub. The many in this instance are the many Muslims in the catchment area, although I can't say with any certainty as to whether they are actually a majority.

    No-one is forced to eat anything. The choice is yours to eat this particular Domino's pizza or to choose another. The franchisee is merely an astute businessman and hoping to sell more halal pizzas and will have done his market analysis to support the initiative.

    My issue is that unless this is a strategic move on behalf of Domino's, it dilutes the brand and the chap may just as well set up his own pizzeria. He's riding on Domino's reputation - which may or may not be a good thing - but clearly he believes it to be the former.

    Can't see any problem with the ethics (as there is choice), just the dilution of the brand.

  7. (Told you I'd be back.)

    Given your statements on women's blogs (which I more than substantiated today, I'm afraid), I think you need to go read Comedy Goddess's post today (


  8. Mmmm - very American. No Volvo Man.

  9. Hi..visiting from Jeanne's...
    Random comment, after all I am a woman and an American at that...
    Hubby has a tri-fold wallet, brown leather , I think!