Saturday, 11 January 2014

Chaplin and scams

I'm currently sitting on platform 4 of York Station dressed as Charlie Chaplin, waiting for the 23.07 to Leeds.

It was my old university friend's 40th birthday today and she celebrated with a glorious fancy dress party in a lovely bar on Grape Lane. Now, fancy dress, if I'm honest, ordinarily fills me with absolute horror, mostly because my friends tend to be rather brilliant at it. They wheel out witty, detailed, imaginative costumes which make everyone laugh and cheer. It was an Oscar-themed party and Ellen, for example, came as Bette Davies in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Philippa dressed as David Bowie in the Labyrinth and Pete and Rachel came as the central characters from The Birds, complete with stuffed crows sitting on their shoulders!

Here's a little quiz. Everyone remembers Tippi Hedron in the birds, but what was the name of her male co-star? Answer at the bottom of the blog...

There were other really brilliant costumes at the party as well. We had a convincing Cleopatra, Laurel and Hardy, and various characters from Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Someone even came dressed as the red carpet!

Chaplin tends to be my default when it comes to fancy dress, mostly because my wardrobe is full of things that look a bit turn-of-the-century tramp, but also because he was, as Till family lore would have it, my Great Grandfather's cousin, and when I wear a bowler hat, a little moustache and put kohl on my eyes, I'm told the resemblance is striking... Although I'm sure anyone dressed like this would more than pass as Chaplin!

It was fun walking through the streets of York from the party to the train station. I passed rather a lot of groups of pissed up revellers, all of whom thought the sight of Charlie Chaplin waddling down the street was absolutely brilliant. If I had a penny for every time someone shouted "eh up Charlie!" Well, I'd have about 8 pence!

I've spent the day oscillating between Leeds and York after travelling up to Yorkshire from King's Cross this morning. I'm staying in a hotel in Leeds tonight. I like hotels and I like train travel, particularly when I get to sit at a table with my computer open to work and a nice cup of tea.

I often buy myself a baguette for the journey from Upper Crust, and today I bought my train journey cuppa there as well...

Here's a ghastly thought... When you ask for a tea or coffee at Upper Crust, staff are actually obliged to respond with a simple question; "what size would you like? Large or medium?" "Fair enough" I hear you cry, "if that's what they choose to call the two size options." Actually, Upper Crust ALSO sells a small-sized drink, but it costs considerably less, so, as a result, they opt not to offer it. How flipping cynical is that?

Someone in the management team of Upper Crust must have actually come up with this wheeze; "customers are silly!" (He must have said, throwing his arms triumphantly into the air,) "from now on if they ask for a drink, only offer them a choice of the two most expensive sized drinks because few people are savvy people enough to spot the third (less expensive) option. That'll net us about 30p on every purchase... If we sell 1000 cups of tea per day in our 1000 branches across the country, that's an extra £30,000 a DAY, just for changing the script we use!" Oh yes, I can see the greedy bastard running his hands together in glee! And he's right. Most people, if given the choice between medium and large will ask for medium without assuming there's a smaller option. Starbucks cottoned onto a similar customer mentality when they started sizing drinks with confusing names like "tall" and "grand", but I think the Upper Crust approach is perhaps even more crafty and underhand.

So, next time you buy a tea at Upper Crust, do watch out for this scam, and make sure you register your disapproval when you hear the words "medium or large"! This kind of misleading nonsense needs to be stamped out!

And the name of Tippi Hedron's co-star in the birds was Rod Taylor. Never heard of him? Me neither. He also voiced Pongo in the animated version of 101 Dalmatians. Fact!

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