LuLu’s Festival of Britain

So, I recently visited Lulu Hypermarket in Muscat, Oman (because I live there- it wasn’t some tragic tourist trap trip).

I needed to buy a really vile shirt for a murder mystery dinner character costume and, as you will see, LuLu did not disappoint.

LuLu, for those not in the know, is an Indian supermarket chain that can be found all over the Middle East (well, the parts I have been to, in any case).

It’s bedlam on a Friday evening, chockablock with migrant labourers and extended sub-continental families blocking the aisles with their shopping trollies and pretending they don’t know what a queue is when it comes to getting vegetables weighed.

Midweek, however, LuLu can be quite sedate and gave me a pleasant enough time browsing through some very unpleasant garments.

What I eventually chose was truly revolting. Not even H.P. Lovecraft could adequately convey the horror of the shirt, try though he might. I won’t even try. I’ll just let you look at the pictures: 

It actually looks much worse than this in real life
Taken on its own, this might be considered jaunty
But as one of 7 or 8 clashing panels…

Even though I was buying it just for a laugh, I still felt deeply ashamed as I waited in line at the upstairs tills.

While waiting, however, I was intrigued by a poster advertising LuLu’s festival of British foodstuffs, called “Food is Great Britain”.

Despite the slightly awkward  grammar and upsetting jingoism, I was impressed that the Indian owners of LuLu were doing a themed celebration of British cuisine, so rushed downstairs to check it out. Would it be Toad in the Hole perhaps? Or a nice bit of Spotted Dick? Even Chicken Tikka Masala with chips would rock.

What I discovered was the biggest display of Union Jack bunting I have personally seen since the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, together with all those products that truly put the ‘Great’ into ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Overseas Territories’:

If they did this back home, it’d be banned by the council for racialism. Probably.
She only looks unimpressed because she’s overwhelmed
Drawing nearer, the first item that caught my eye was a presentation tin of tea bags, inscribed with the now-ubiquitous slogan that speaks to us all of the quiet stoicism of the British (had they ever been invaded by the Nazis):
This charming gift set of 10 tea bags was retailing at an eye-watering 2.2 Omani Rials, which for those of you still thinking in old money is £3.39 (and getting more expensive all the time).
The price nearly blew my British cool, but thanks to some breathing exercises (IN with anger, OUT with a muttered ‘bollocks’) I managed- somehow- to keep calm and carry on. 
And what a bounteous feast- fit even for a harvest festival- the next table groaned under:
  • Quaker Oats (pretty sure they’re American, actually)
  • Carr’s Table Water Biscuits (not as good as Cream Crackers, but an essential cheese accompaniment for the aspirational middle classes)
  • Chocolate Bourbons AND Jammie Dodgers
  • Tunnock’s Caramel wafer biscuits (last seen in a school packed lunch circa 1986)

The background is an entire wall of Sharwoods’ ready made curry sauces, proving it’s not just the British who can’t be arsed with cooking.

But the biggest thrill came when I rounded the corner, to realise the end of EVERY aisle had been transformed into a shrine to all that is Great about Britain(‘s food industry).

So, through the prism of an Indian conglomorate’s satellite store in Oman, working to appeal to a diverse bunch of Omanis, Indians, Filippinos, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and the odd European, here is the VERY BEST of BRITISH:

I don’t think anyone would seriously argue with this one

Cup a fucking soup, Britain. That’s what the world thinks of you

And yet more soup. A bit posher, this time. But soup, nevertheless.

And what more could anyone want, really, after all the crisps and crackers and soup, than a nice big British shit, followed by a wipe of the arse on a puppy-soft roll of Andrex?


(Despite the packaging, dogs don’t actually use Andrex. On the few occasions they can be bothered to wipe, they do so by dragging themselves across the carpet.)




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  1. Fucking hell Ron, sometimes I think that this blog must be written by a proper comedian. There’s no way an average bloke (whatever that may be) can be so funny. Roflmfao, as the youngsters of today might say.

    You’re spot on about Lulu as well – I’ve been in both Kuwait and the UAE when visiting my mum when she was expatting out there – pretty decent shop though, on the whole.

    The shirt is cracking btw – I’d definitely wear it.

    • Thanks very much- I really appreciate your comment. I did do a bit of stand up years ago but life was way too chaotic (as the stories on this blog show) to focus enough on it or very much else. I’m glad you find it funny- I’m writing to entertain and not for personal catharsis or anything.

      Sadly, I was way too fat at the time to button the shirt up, despite it being Asian-sized XXXXL so I gave it to one of the cleaners at my then-workplace.

      Life’s a lot calmer now but I’m in Burma so appearing in front of anything other than classes of Burmese kids is unlikely in the forseeable. I may get more into making Youtube videos now I have a decent camera, however.

      Really, I am just another person in this world. I do have a talent for funny writing and enjoy expressing myself this way. I am happy it’s finding an audience.

      Spread the word!


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