Peter Rhodes on old sandwiches, Scotch eggs and a bumper Christmas for the US guns industry

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

God Bless America
God Bless America

What is the attraction of cricket teas, as discussed yesterday? I suspect it is the curious fact, discovered by all kids on their first school trip, that sandwiches made and brought by other people always taste better than your own. I never figured out why.

However, a few days ago I prepared a packed lunch which, owing to a change of plan, was put in the fridge for use the next day. There is something undeniably fine about a 24-hour aged cheese and tomato sandwich.

It's beginning to look a lot like carnage. On Black Friday last year, Americans celebrated their Thanksgiving period by buying 200,000 guns, a one-day record. It's likely that staggering total will be eclipsed by gun sales over Christmastide, marking the end of what has been a magnificent 2020 for the gun makers.

While many of the 2020 customers already possessed weapons, this year has seen five million Americans buy a gun for the first time. Sales have been spurred by the national trauma of the pandemic, paranoia about the breakdown of government and the deep, vicious divide between Trump supporters and the rest. In October 2020 alone, 1.7 million background checks were carried out on people wanting to buy guns, a 60 per cent rise on the same month last year. To use a Trumpism, America is tooling up, bigly.

One significant question is whether 2020 will break records for the number of Americans shot on Christmas Day. Grisliest yule so far was in 2015 when 27 were killed and 63 wounded. And still, proud American families pose in front of their Christmas trees, or even at Santa's grotto, brandishing their shiny new assault rifles.

The perfect accessory for your new AK-47 must be the T-shirt on a pop-up advert on my computer. The charmingly seasonal slogan reads: “Back off. I've got enough to deal with today without having to make your death look like an accident.”

On this side of the pond, the closest thing to a lethal weapon most of us handle is the 180-calorie, artery-blocking Scotch egg. But what is its legal status? Does a Scotch egg constitute “a substantial meal” as required by the tier-two regulations for pubs to open? “I think it would . . .if there were table service,” was the hesitant verdict from Environment Secretary George Eustice. Cook them as I once did, as a hard-up hack in a bleak little Northern bedsit, and you'd have no doubt that it's substantial. I had two Scotch eggs, deep-fried in lard and didn't need another meal for 24 hours.

George Eustice? If the Environment Secretary's name seems familiar, you may be thinking of Claud Eustace, the hapless, gum-chewing Chief Inspector in Leslie Charteris's books starring The Saint. Let us hope Eustice is luckier than Eustace.

And anyway, what is it about sausage meat and yellow breadcrumbs that bestow Scottishness on an egg? A great culinary puzzle of our age.

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