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The Insider’s Report is one of my ‘things’, which means it’s something i’m unreaosnably compulsive about for not that many good reasons. But what The Mom fails to appreciate is that I actually have no intention of buying any of the new items they produce each year. Because that’s not what’s enjoyable to me.

What I love about the Insider’s Report is the same thing I love about the coupons: it allows me to imagine a world in which I might eat these things, and it lets me imagine what they might actually be like. From the comfort of The Mom’s kitchen, I am able to enjoy these products much more than I would if I actually had to eat them – because really it’s the packaging and the titling that I find particularly alluring.

I like things that come nicely packaged. The Mom will remind me time and again that I am a sucker for advertising – to which I counter, that it’s not just any advertising I fall prey to but rather very good advertising.

I mean, honestly, when you see these things laid out they look so attractive! I imagine my reaction is similar to The Mom’s when she sees a new pair of beige shoes that look exactly like all the others she has: that she piscutres herself a woman vastly improved, with a beautiful house decorated just so, with three children who have normal lives with easy to explain career paths, and so on and so forth. Obviously this will not be made to happen with a pair of beige shoes nor with an elgeantly presented platter of shrimp but never mind that’s not the point.

The point is to imagine. And that’s where the fun lies.

the Christmas edition is particularly good for this because as a group we tend to not invite Others round at the holidays. Oh, we’ll go to somebody else’s house – begrudgingly as it means putting pants on and going out, which we are none of us terribly fond of – and eat their weird food (whilst exchanging looks that say, this cheese smells funny and why am I eating it) and try to make polite conversation but mostly we’ll go (and I mean us three kids as The Mom’s quite good and making polite conversation) and sit there be seen and then depart.

So, in reading this year’s report, which will feature no end to attractive and wonderfully titled platters of food for people who you see once a year, I might suggest to The Mom:

“New Year. We could invite people here. and serve them this new attractive maple and bacon flavoured sthrimp platter.”

“You don’t like people. None of your friends lives in town anymore. Not even your brother and sister who won’t come even if you did invite them. And who do you know that wants to eat that?”

This might give me pause. I might pull my bathrobe up over my mouth which is comforting and warming. “I know, we’ll invite strangers!”

This might cause the Mom to chock on whatever she’s eating. “Strangers? You hate those people more than the people you know.”

“I know, but if they’re strangers then I could spend the evening coming up with reasons to dislike them which might be enjoyable. Whilst eating attracitvely displayed pigs in a blanket. And by the by, what exactly are pigs in a blanket?”

“One, that’s mean, though I kind of get where you’re going with it. And two, it’s cocktail sausages wrapped in pastry. It’s one of those things you used to like but now that you know what it is apparently you don’t.”

“Interesting. We could put up a flyer on the communal post box.”

“People won’t come.”

“What if I called it a PResdient’s choice insider’s report eating party? I would go to that and I don’t like going to anything.”

“You would be the only person at that party.”

“They have maple cheesecake. People like cheesecake.”

“You don’t. Why would you have that at what sounds like the worst party you’ve ever thrown?”

“People like cheesecake. I’ve seen them eat it.”

“People you know?”

“Yes, the non-allergic non-vegan ones.”

“You’ve made new friends in England I see.”

“No Preseident’s Choice in England. Otherwise I could invite ItalianLady – she really likes prawns. She’s eat the whole thing.”

The Mom would struggle to resist banging her head on the table at this point. “Why would you host a party and serve people you don’t like things you don’t want to eat?”

“So I don’t have to bother eating them but can get a decent report on what they’re like. I keep something of a running league table in my head about these things. M&S is doing the best so far. I even eat their weird shit.”

“That M&S we went to in Bath was vastly superior to anything President’s Choice does.”

“Agreed but they’re a little light on the maple syrup.”

“Well, count me out. I’m not coming to this party and I’m not going to the shop to purchase any of these things, and I’m certainly not eating them.”