Thursday, 8 March 2012

Lessons from history

…the real disgrace of England is the railway sandwich, – that whited sepulchre, fair enough outside, but so meagre, poor and spiritless within, such a thing of shreds and parings, such a dab of food, telling us that the poor bone whence it was scraped had been made utterly bare before it was sent into the kitchen for the soup pot. (Anthony Trollope, He Knew He Was Right, 1869)
Still true, 140 years later. Eating anything from a railway station is an exercise in extortion and gustatory torture. For the price of a decent curry in any West Midlands town, you're presented with a rock hard, tasteless lump of 'bread' containing stale and flavour-free substances masquerading as cheese, meat or vegetables. Douglas Adams knew a lot about British railway and pub food. He once speculated that British pub food was meant as 
'a form of penance for some forgotten, but unimaginably dire sin. The sausages are for those who know what their sins are, and wish to atone for something specific'.
This is probably why Arthur Dent retired to an obscure planet to become a tribe's Sandwich Maker. Douglas Adams also had something to say about academia:
“It is often said that a disproportionate obsession with purely academic or abstract matter indicates a retreat from the problems of real life. However, most of the people engaged in such matters say that this attitude is based on three things: ignorance, stupidity, and nothing else.” 

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