Duelling deliveries

When I were a lad, I don’t recall there being any option to have hot food delivered to one’s dwelling – well, it might have been available to the aristocracy but, due to an error of fate, I was born into the forelock-tugging classes.  Food was prepared and consumed in the home, except for very rare occasions: I think I now eat out more often in a typical week than I did in a typical year as a child.

I remember when fast food first came, in the form of KFC, to the provincial Kent town where the majority of my childhood was spent.  My mother did not approve; and I suspect still doesn’t!

So deprived were we in those far off days that fizzy pop was brought to the children (and adults) of Sittingbourne on the back of a small lorry by a man (or shadowy organisation) known as Mr Bacon, much like van-based ice cream continues to arrive in the summer months.  This seemed entirely normal at the time, but now I wonder if carbonated beverages were truly unavailable from the rather basic supermarkets of those days…

At some stage, the range of fast food increased and some enterprising providers would bring it to your door for a small consideration.  I remember working in Madrid in the 90s where a whole range of firms named teleX (for suitable X) would, in response to a phone call and the promise of some pesetas, deliver X via a young lad on a moped.  X could be any type of meal or snack: from a sandwich up.

The world continued in this way for another decade or two, with individual food providers organising their own delivery service.  But then, in the last few years, Deliveroo has appeared and attempted to consolidate the provision of food delivery and, one assumes, make a shed load of money by doing so.  Food outlets, or those not part of a major chain with the commercial muscle to resist this interloper, were forced to use its services, or risk losing sales to their competitors.  All was good for the shadowy figures pulling the Deliveroo strings, but history teaches us that an empire will often invite an upstart seeking to overthrow the current ruler (or be riven by internal strife).  Into the Deliveroo puppetmasters’ rosy world has come the young pretender: Uber Eats.  BTW: I’m not entirely sure that a brand name which loosely translates to “over eats” is giving quite the right message during a soi-disant obesity epidemic.

I like to imagine that the riders of Deliveroo and Uber Eats are rivals in the style of the Sharks and Jets from West Side Story, though I’ve yet to hear any music of the quality of Bernstein’s arising from this conflict.  In my mind, violence simmers below the surface of every encounter in food outlet or street: with tyres slashed and locks sabotaged.  I see each new rider as a “made man” (or woman or LGBTQIA+ equivalent) learning their lessons from Sean Connery’s unexpectedly Scottish (sorry, Shcottish) cop in The Untouchables, “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.”

I became convinced that my fantasy may be close to the truth when I saw a rider in Deliveroo uniform carrying an Uber Eats delivery box.  Was he a a Deliveroo rider who had take out a rival and claimed his box as booty?  Or had an Uber Eats rider flayed one of the enemy and was wearing his skin, like a Scythian warrior, to boast of his prowess in battle?

xipe totec

An Aztec Uber Eats foot soldier (the bicycle had yet to be invented)

Despite the now deadly, if secret, war being waged between the ground troops of the two delivery services, I believe they will still form temporary alliances to tackle the common, four-wheeled foe.  The Domino’s Pizza delivery driver may only be able to offer one type of “food”, but he or she does come armed with a car.  I assume they have orders to pick off any enemy rider that is found separated from the pack – or certainly their driving when I try and cycle past one of their local nests strongly suggests they have standing instructions to eliminate any cyclist (regardless of affiliation)!

Wimp

I talk not of any candidates for the substance of dark matter – though I have been reading about them recently – but of your electronic interlocutor.  Whilst I may be weakly interacting, that is down to my limited social skills rather than any inability to affect electromagnetic radiation – I am, in fact, reflecting, absorbing and scattering it even as I type (and they say men can’t multi-task!).  Nor am I a particle (and so have no fear of the triangle – and there may be a small prize for anyone who – without the aid of internet search – (a) understands that allusion and (b) is willing to admit it) and I do not consider myself especially massive – though I realise the later is very much a matter of your point of view.

No, I refer to my rather limited panoply of the more traditional manly attributes.  I have previously alluded to my need to dash away a less than manly tear at the cinema or theatre – and now admit that this weakness extends to the opera (only once, and La Traviata is quite sad) and the radio, television and books.

However, I don’t, in general, consider myself to be especially squeamish – to be honest, I don’t even know what a squeam is.  I tend not to watch the myriad of hospital dramas that infest our screen not out of any fear of the sight of blood – I’ve seen my own often enough, gushing out of my arm into a small plastic bag – but due to a lack of interest in the genre.  So, when I sat down on Sunday night to watch Michael Mosley’s new 2-part series “Frontline Medicine” I had no reason to fear.  I’ve watched his medical series before – and even made it through his excellent “History of Surgery” with barely a qualm.

Truly, pride cometh before a fall.  Within five minutes I was forced to the adult equivalent of hiding behind the couch – in my case, standing behind the bookcase concentrating on the ironing (the couch is too low, and it backs directly onto the wall).  Even “watching” thus insulated from any sight of the screen, the sound track alone was sufficient to make me decidedly queasy on more than one occasion.  In fact, I seemed decidedly more queasy than a lad whose foot had been mostly blown off by an IED.  Despite my rather eccentric mode of viewing the programme was fascinating and horrifying, depressing and uplifting in equal measure.  Some of the injured required 150 units of blood – nearly 50 years of normal donation for a chap like me – which does make me wonder where they obtain so much blood?  For the interested, O neg is the most useful as it can be given to anyone – my own A pos satisfies only a rather more limited market.

The physical injuries that the quality of medical care rendered survivable was truly extraordinary.  The injured (and, as yet, uninjured) did seem to be uniformly young: the sort of age I normally see wandering around the university or wowing me with their musical prowess – and I suspect the same is true for the enemy combatants as well, though I doubt they are offered much in the way of medical care by their “sponsors”.  I fear it is all too easy for the idealism of the young to be used by their elders – and not always for very laudable ends.  Sadly, it remains far easier – and oft seems more popular – to injure and maim than it does to heal.

Still, as I said the programme was far from unremittingly depressing, in many ways it was a story of heroism, quiet determination and great skill – and as so often with war, lessons are learned that will benefit “normal” life.  It would just be so much better if we could learn these lessons via less pain and suffering.  Next week, will be looking at rehabilitation – so I hope I may be able to return from behind the bookcase to a more typical viewing position (for a start, I’ve not got an hour of ironing – and, before you ask, I’m not offering to take any in!).