A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Hooptedoodle #62 - Embarrassment of Riches

First off, may I record my delight that someone has just broken the world record for throwing a mobile phone. Apparently there is an annual mobile-throwing contest held in Finland (since 2000) - an idea which truly warms the cockles of my heart - perhaps there is hope for mankind yet? The young man pictured above managed the astonishing distance of 101 metres, which is a fantastic effort and breaks the previous world's best by some way. I hope that people all over the world will be inspired to have a go at this. The fact that the throw could be measured suggests that the item was not lost in the attempt, but it was probably not in great shape afterwards. Perhaps someone could produce an app to measure the throws automatically (yes - by GPS, naturally). Perhaps the mobile could ring you back on a number of your choice to report the distance. No - just a minute - I don't think I like that last bit.

Meanwhile, on a more mundane level, my wife has won a competition (which did not involve throwing anything), the first prize for which is a meal for two people in a restaurant. The restaurant has to be selected from a list of pretty prestigious establishments - there are two in Edinburgh we could choose from - and they will allow you a maximum of £250 deducted from your bill. £250? For a meal for two? That, you will agree, is a very fine prize indeed. An old but vaguely familiar conundrum raises its head - do you go for the most expensive items you can find on the menu, or stay sensible and select items which you like best, however cheap? This has echoes of the old supermarket "smash and grab raids" they used to hold in the UK - the winner of some kind of promotion would get an empty trolley and five minutes to fill it, on the house. The world wised up pretty quickly - after the first couple of such freebies the stores realised they would have to bar access to the wine and spirits aisles - smart customers were filling the trolley with single malt whiskies and selling them privately. Presumably there would be the odd supermarket winner who was stupid enough to fill the cart with packets of Doritos or similar, but the tendency would be to go for something expensive. We discussed this yesterday, and Mme la Comtesse said a good move would be to concentrate on the fresh meats - steaks and other high-quality stuff which can be frozen.

Anyway, to get back to the particular prize in question - apparently accommodation and transport are excluded from the £250. I guess I could indulge myself with a bottle of Sassicaia, and maybe the odd fancy cognac, but we are going to have to be able to get home afterwards. Left to myself, a nice fresh insalata Caprese with big Italian tomatoes, firm mozzarella and fresh basil makes me a very happy bunny, but that would make a dent of about £6 in our budget. This is an interesting challenge.

The restaurant we have selected specialises in French cuisine. One of their offerings is a Chateaubriand steak for two people, which might be a good idea. It's complicated - one has to worry a bit about what sort of unsophisticated baboon one might come across as. I'm sure people with real class would order something moderately priced that they really loved - apart from anything, that would also suggest that eating out in a restaurant of this calibre is not such a novelty. Yes, that's good. On the other hand, the pricier exotica might be just the sort of thing that a genuine epicure would go for. Tricky.

I'll have to prepare for this, mentally. It is not unknown for me to agonise over the choice between three things I really love on a menu, and then - feeling under some pressure to get on with it - I might just panic and order something I don't like too much. I don't know how this happens, but sometimes it does. Another commonplace in restaurants is that when you see the waiter carrying someone else's meal to them, you suddenly know for certain that that is what you should have ordered if you had only thought of it. One thing is for sure - even with plenty of time and lots of deep breathing, there is no way we can run up a dinner bill of £250 for two people, so the skill will be in making sure we fail in a way which makes us happy.

Not a bad problem to have, though. Well done, Mme la Comtesse - nice one! 


  1. Have you considered bringing friends and passing them food under the table? or ordering 6 or 8 courses and asking for a doggie bag? Is there a time limit?

    Can you show up at 9 am and stay till midnight. This does seem to call for planning and tactics.

    1. This is the sort of area I've been looking into - I considered wearing a very large coat, containing several other people. Or a coat with very large pockets, in which we might hide some courses (in the style of Mr Bean). I'm getting a bit tense about some aspects of this...

  2. "If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please." - Epictetus

    1. I believe this to be true, and it also has a pleasingly Presbyterian resonance. The experimentation required to identify just where these bounds are sounds like it might be fun, though.

  3. I'd be a little worried, if you've got 3250 off a meal, how much is the normal meal gonna cost, you could end up owing the £250!!


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