I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Friday, September 9, 2016


Brexit means....

I don't know about you but I am already sick to the back teeth of politicians and pundits telling me what Brexit means. Or what it might mean. Or what it is going to mean.

Yesterday our new Prime Minister decided to 'take the fifth' and make like a hard faced Gangsta on the floor of the mother of all Parliaments. The lady was saying nuffink about nuffink, innit. It seems what Brexit is and what it might be and what she hopes it will be is yet another of those British secrets the great unwashed are best off not knowing about.

Instead we need to button our lips and leave everything in the more than capable hands of good old boys from schools costing thirty grand a year. They are bred for it you know. The diplomacy thing. Empires don't just happen you know. It takes time. Experience. The right touch. So stop worrying yourselves about what Brexit might or might not mean, OK? Good. Remember your place. You've had your vote and you've buggered everything up so now just go back to your reality TV and your crisps.

Well, I have feeling I might have accidentally blundered onto something the other day. A hint. An inkling. A clue. A fleeting glimpse of what Brexit might be.

OK. Now I am no kind of picky eater, but I have a few red lines when it comes to cooking the evening meal. I hate and despise lousy pasta. It annoys me. Pisses me off. It just seems so unnecessary to peddle crap pasta when superb Italian pasta can be had for a few pence a packet more. Of course this has become an all too familiar story in the buccaneering, free wheeling Britain Maggie unleashed all those years ago. We head out over the water to Europe and sigh in wonder at just about everything we eat or drink. How can it be that everything tastes so much better that it does at home? The wine, the fruit, the pasta....? Why on earth can you buy super sweet apples and pears for pennies on a market in Riga when at home the supermarkets charge twice the price for stuff that looks like fruit but tastes like water?

Why oh why? Because we get ripped off all the time and we are too polite and too gullible and too dumb to moan about it. Oh, and the fact that the big supermarkets control 80% of the grocery market just like Robert Mugabe controls Zimbabwe. I once watched an interview with a French guy who ran a large vineyard. He talked the camera through the process. You harvest the grapes. You put them in a massive vat and you squeeze out the juice. Then you put the juice in huge wooden barrels and you wait for the juice to become wine. Next he talked us through the various different qualities. The top half of the horizontal barrel becomes the year's vintage and it is labelled up accordingly. The next 20% goes into plastic bottles to be sold in French supermarkets for a couple of Euros a litre. You know the stuff. The stuff we Brits buy and marvel at and reckon tastes better than the stuff we get at home. The next 10% goes to wine vinegar. And the bottom 30%? The dregs? Oh that is sold off for pennies to the British supermarkets who bung on their own label and knock it out for a fiver a bottle. So. In a nutshell the reason why wine tastes great in France, Spain and Italy and rubbish here was explained.

Back to pasta. A few years ago I discovered De Cecco. It is the real deal. Genuine Italian pasta made properly by genuine Italians who have been doing their thing in a genuine Italian factory since 1886. You can see them at the top of the page. Check them out. They look like the kind of guys who know a thing or two about decent pasta, right?

So. I was in Tesco and spaghetti was on my list. I looked and then I looked again. And again. Not a single yellow and blue De Cecco packet was to be seen. They had vanished. All of them. Leaving not so much of a trace. Now the shelves were wall to wall own brand rubbish.

I wasn't particularly surprised. This seems to happen all the time with Tesco. When a company digs in its heels and demands a fair price for its product, Tesco simply turf them out and fill the space left with their own labels. The answer is to start buying whatever it is you want to buy in a different supermarket until Tesco finish their latest game of chicken and put the stuff back on sale. So Morrisons then. But the Morrisons shelves told the same story. Lots and lots of own brand rubbish. Not so much as a single pack of De Cecco. Online to Asda who haven't colonised our town yet. Nope. De Cecco? Never heard of him mate. Who is he anyway? Sounds like he plays on the wing for West Brom....

In the end I found a kilo pack in Bookers. But for how long will that remain the case? Who knows. And why?

Could it Brexit? Surely not, but there again......

Let's assume for a moment that Tesco double the wholesale price when they put their packs of De Cecco on the shelves. I doubt if such an assumption will be too far from the mark.

22 June 2016.

Sale Price - £3.10 per kg

Purchase Price - £1.55p per kg

But of course the De Cecco family want paying in Euros because Italy is very much in the Eurozone.

The purchase price for Tesco in Euros on 22 June was 2.10 euros per kilo. As in £1.55. And then? Then can the big 52/48 vote to become Little Britain and the value of the pound crashed.

So on 24 June 2016 there was a new price for the De Cecco pasta. It was still 2.10 Euros of course. But now it was going to cost Tesco £1.89 to buy 2.10 euros instead of £1.55. So unless they whacked up their prices they would need to sell at a mark up of £1.29 instead of £1.55. Unthinkable!

No doubt they were straight on the phone to the guys at De Cecco demanding an immediate 20% price cut and no doubt the guys at De Cecco told them to go jump in the lake because a 20% price cut would have meant the Italians selling for a loss.

So the supermarket boys faced a hideous decision. They could do the right thing for their treasured customers and offer them the chance to buy De Cecco pasta at a mere 60% mark up or they could take the stuff off the shelves and knock out their own brand junk instead.

A no brainer, right?

Because it seems like Brexit means rubbish pasta. Oh the joys of living in the northern province of an inward looking little island where the bottom line is new God. 


  1. Brexit Means Rubbish Pasta, I think it's guaranteed I'll never read another critique like this one. Great stuff Mark.

  2. Never mind the quality, feel the width!

  3. It'll only get worse, unless we bid goodbye to Westminster.