Religion, Discrimination & Percy Pigs

Percy Pigs

Percy Pigs

I Heart Percy Pig

Percy Pigs are my all-time favourite sweets. And, rather interestingly, they’re actually made from pigs. These ridiculously moreish strawberry and raspberry-flavoured gums contain pork gelatine. I guess you could say they do exactly what they say on the tin – or in this instance, the packet.

Anyhow, whenever I pop into Marks & Spencer, a bag of Percies always seems to end up in my shopping. There I am, patiently waiting my turn in the check-out queue and, before I know it, a packet of pink deliciousness has somehow, inexplicably made it into my basket.

‘Next customer please…’

The recent furore regarding M&S and my penchant for Percy Pigs got me thinking. Will I get told to wait for another till if my Percy reflex has kicked in? Now, just in case you’re not up to speed, apparently Marks & Sparks has decreed that any member of staff who is Muslim and does not want to serve customers buying alcohol or pork (and I’m guessing Percy Pigs) can politely refuse to do so.



Booze & Bacon Embargo

I find Marks & Spencer’s stance beyond ridiculous. To my mind, this is a case of fear of religious upset gone mad. Surely I should be able to go into any M&S store and buy any M&S products on offer and be served by any M&S staff without let or hindrance. I don’t believe that an employee should be able to refuse to serve me because I happen to stick a BLT and a bottle of chianti in my shopping trolley. Particularly when said products are a) legal and b) sold by M&S!

Sainsbury’s & Waitrose Common Sense

Thankfully, some big supermarket chains, like Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, don’t hold with such craziness. They’re of the view that if you take on a job with them, you have to carry it out fully. Unfortunately, some British heavyweights, like ASDA and Morrisons, seem to be happy to propagate this notion of religious intolerance and discrimination in their food halls. Mind you, there’s little chance of me doing my weekly shop in either of those institutions but that’s not the point.



No gammon. No gays?

The idea that a staff member can decide not to provide certain customers with a service because of their religious convictions raises other questions. For instance, would it be permissible for someone to refuse to serve a gay couple because the said partnership offends their religious sensibilities? Flip it round on its head and it begs the question can customers refuse to be served by say, a lady wearing a headscarf, because they find some of her religious beliefs and rituals retrograde, medieval and offensive?

CV Stupidity

What’s more, shouldn’t people be a little more savvy when applying for a job? If your religious convictions hinder you from carrying out your role, then shouldn’t you reconsider what it is you’re doing? It’s like a devout Catholic working at a Durex factory and expecting not to have to deal with condoms. Or for a Hindu to rock up at a McDonald’s and point out they have a problem with flipping beef burgers.

Similarly, I would never pitch up for work at a halal or kosher butcher’s shop and then tell my new boss I find the practice of ritual slaughter utterly barbaric and deeply offensive to my moral code and so will not be able to manhandle the goods on sale. I just wouldn’t put myself – or the employer for that matter – in that position.

Pigging Out

So next time you pop into M&S at lunchtime for a sarnie and you hear a clattering sound near the check-outs, that’ll probably be me throwing down my basket and marching out in protest. But you can rest assured that I’ll be looking back forlornly at the pink smiling faces of Percy Pig and co scattered across the floor.

Curly Kale, Objets d’Art & Loo Brushes

I say! A farmers' market!

I say! A farmers’ market!

Jesus Christ on a bike. I’m turning into one of those smug-married, middle-class tw*ts that I used to despise so much. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised. After all, I am the boy that’s so Home Counties I thought the word ‘turd’ was spelled ‘terde’. I kid you not.

Yummy Mummy Territory

Anyhow, last weekend I sank to new middle-class lows. I found myself mooching around the Saturday morning farmers’ market in leafy West Hampstead. So there I was, a still-dusted-with-flour baguette stuffed under one arm, a copy of the Guardian under the other, chatting to a Starbucks-swilling yummy mummy about the virtues of sun-blushed baby plum tomatoes as I waited in line for some venison and leek sausages. I even bought some curly kale. I wouldn’t mind but I haven’t got the foggiest what curly kale is yet alone how to cook it.

Kale and other posh stuff

Kale and other posh stuff

Middle-class Mecca

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the next day I could be seen swanning around that Mecca of middle-classness, Habitat. Reason being, I was on a mission for ‘objets d’art’. Since moving in to my new pad with Monsieur P, I’ve felt like we’ve not really put our stamp on the place. For weeks now, our home has felt a bit cold and unloved.

Bargain Hunter

While I’m still in denial about my trip to Habitat, it did unearth an interesting dynamic between me and Monsieur P. When we first arrived in the store, he instructed me to only buy items in the front section of the shop. I couldn’t work out why browsing frontiers had been set but then the penny dropped. Dangling above our heads was a sign emblazoned with the message ‘25% Off’. I should have realised – Monsieur P is a bargain hunter extraordinaire. If there’s a deal to be had, he’ll sniff it out with that French hooter of his, trust me.

The Habitat evidence

The Habitat evidence

More de Gaulle Than Gaultier

Suffice to say I ignored his directive and proceeded to pirouette around the shop, sweeping up as many over-priced vases as I could. It wasn’t long before I had a shop assistant in tow, ferrying my selections back to the cash register. At this point, Monsieur P realised he was fighting a losing battle and so retired to the comfort of a showroom sofa to play Candy Crush. Now, despite being a Frenchman, my fella isn’t the most artistic or creative of souls – he’s more de Gaulle than Gaultier – and so was happy to defer the interior design choices to me.

Two Fingers a la Loo Brush

After I’d gone around the ground floor like a carp gulping in, well, just about everything, I figured it was time to ascend the grand staircase up to Bathrooms & Bedrooms. I suggested to Monsieur P that he may wish to decamp to one of the cushion-plumped beds on the first floor while I devoured the next wave of goods. He graciously declined and instead suggested that I send him a photo of anything ‘expensive’ to his phone for verification purposes. This irked me greatly so I proceeded to send him a picture of a loo brush.

My Habitat-Matalan Objets d'Art

My Habitat-Matalan Objets d’Art

Matalan Wake-up Call

Fast forward to Monday back in the office. I recalled my middle-class weekend to one of my colleagues who was aghast at just how middle England I’d become. “I know exactly what you need”, she said, and proceeded to frog-march me to her car. Before I knew it we had pulled up in front of a shop I never even knew existed – Matalan. In case you’ve never been to one, it’s the homeware equivalent of Primark. To say I went wild in the aisles is an understatement. For the same price as two Habitat vases, I had kitted out my flat with more objets d’art than I knew what to do with.

Old Habitats Die Hard

Me being me, though, I transferred said objets from my cheap and nasty Matalan carriers into, yes, you’ve guessed it, Habitat bags. I mean, what would the yummy mummies of West Hampstead say? As the old adage goes, you can take the boy out of the Home Counties, but you can’t take the Home Counties out of the boy.

Exasperdating | Mr Wet Lettuce

Exasperdating Logo

Exasperdating | Mr Wet Lettuce

Age: 39
Height: 5’10″
Build: Toned
Hair: Grey
Eyes: Brown
Job: Teacher



I’ve always had a bit of thing for fellas with salt and pepper hair. Granted, this guy’s barnet was more on the salty side, but it just made him look all the more distinguished. And the fact he was a piano-playing music teacher was a big plus point, too. I’ve always been in awe of people who can tinkle the ivories (learning to play the clarinet at school was a major-league error on my part – it’s really hard to sing along at the same time).

Now, I should mention something quite important at this point. When I spotted this guy’s online profile, I couldn’t help but think ‘I know you from somewhere’. I actually asked him outright if we’d met before, but the closest we could get to crossing paths was that we used to go to the same nightclub years ago. Anyhow, the date had the potential to be good – a riverside walk with takeaway coffees on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

However, it wasn’t long before I realised this guy was a bit beige – he really didn’t have much to say for himself. Our rendezvous finished rather bizarrely with him taking me to a Marks & Spencer food hall. I had to follow him around while he loaded up his shopping basket for his dinner. Hardly the stuff of a romantic encounter.

Just before we parted company – somewhere near the cucumbers – I had another I’m-sure-I-know-you moment. “So you used to go to Ghetto nightclub?”, I quizzed. “Well, once or twice. And not really through choice. A guy I dated used to drag me down there.” All of a sudden the supermarket shelves melted around me, my insides churned in exam-style panic, and an invisible film camera whizzed down the aisle towards me for that penny-dropping close-up. OH. MY. GOD. This guy used to go out with my best friend! How could I have forgotten? Fair-dos, it was really going back some, but it was me that had branded him Mr Wet Lettuce.