Thursday, 1 July 2010


Is Cameroon a mightier nation than Denmark? Can a graceless Scotsman beat a Frenchman called Jo-Wilfried Tsonga?

All those of us with little interest in such matters have had a hard time over the last few weeks; television has been pandering to the national addiction to a couple of sports so that these and many other similar questions have been exercising the minds, if that is the right word, of the addicted.

But there has been one consolation: it has been worthwhile to switch the TV on from time to time if only to catch one or two of a series of commercials currently appearing on TV3 which are impeccably written, casted, acted and directed. The fact that it is doubtful if I shall ever be seduced by them and buy the product is irrelevant: they have given me enormous pleasure.

They are for Birds Eye frozen meals, products of a company founded by Clarence Birdseye; the first retail sale of his frozen foods occurred on March 6, 1930, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The principle of these little gems is quite simple: you are shown a scene of violence or romance and it is then revealed that one of the participants is uninterested in the action and is giving total attention to a frozen dinner, presumably thawed and cooked . For example, a line of riot police rattle their shields while the rioters attack them; then the camera pans to show that one of them, absolutely calm, is enjoying his meal. In another, two men crouch behind a car which is being struck by a hail of bullets; one of them is ducking and flinching but tucking in with gusto.

My favourite has a man in period costume entering through French windows with a girl over his shoulder; he looks behind him and gives an anguished cry of "Meredith!". Then he exits right and as he turns we see that the girl clasping him round the neck has a plate of food in one hand and, quite expressionless, is wielding a fork with the other.

What is going on? Who is this Meredith person and why is he or she so urgently required? Now those are questions which really do exercise the mind.


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