You're being forced to use restaurants

Did you see it in the budget? It was well hidden and has had little publicity but it’s going to be a boon to the restaurant industry and make millionaires of all of us restaurateurs. It was that bit, about three quarters of the way through, somewhere near indexed-linked pensions but before the amortisation of foreign debt, just after most people had gone to sleep, where the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that, whether you need to or not, you have to go out for a meal at least once a week. And, if you don’t, you’ll still have to pay for it. It’s a brilliant move and I can’t think why it’s not been done before.
After all, they did it with the motor insurance industry. Even if you’re not using your car, even if you’ve got it stored away in a garage and are prepared to take the risk that a plane might land on it, unless you’ve told the government you’re not going to be taking it on the road, you have to pay insurance on it. Otherwise you’ll be sent to prison or put in the stocks or something.
Seems fair enough to me. If I had an insurance company I’d love the government to force people to buy my product when they don’t actually need it. A product which, also by the way, is increasing in price way ahead of inflation but it’s got nothing to do with my own personal greed, oh no. That’s down to government taxes or repair scams or, er, something else that, actually, ought to be put into the official category of daylight robbery.
I know, I was dreaming but you can’t expect to stay awake throughout a whole budget. But if only our industry was deemed controllable by the government for some reason, you wouldn’t stand a chance and we could make a fortune. Once it’s been decided that you must have our product and the government gets involved, I can start planning more summer holidays and early retirement.
The motor insurance industry is a good example. But so is rail transport – heavily regulated, always moving ahead of inflation, hideously expensive for the 95% of us who can’t plan ahead, lacking in choice and downright insulting to its customers.
What else? Energy springs to mind as does the real biggee, health.
So you must be able to see why I’m so keen on the idea. Let’s get the meddlers involved. They’re already talking about getting us to print obesity potential on all menus. Now that’ll make the dining-out experience a bundle of laughs and our job an absolute delight. Fine for fast-food joints that rarely change the menu but a bit of a so-and-so if, like us you change the menu depending on what’s seasonal and fresh in the market.
But hey, it doesn’t matter because I’m going to be making a fortune. Unless you tell the government that you’re not having to eat for a while, you’re going to have to eat out. Of course, because of these legal changes, we’re going to incur massive costs so these will immediately have to be passed on to you, the customer. In fact, these costs will probably have to be backdated because Dave say’s it was Gordon’s fault and, what with Afghanistan and now Libya, well, what do you expect? We’re going to have to take on extra administration. Why? Well we just do, get over it. You can’t expect me to have to pay for all this from my house in the Caribbean.
I was getting tired of eating out being about the love of food, the quality of ingredients and the desire to experience a bit of luxury every now and then to get away from the pressures of normal life. It’s wrong that anything in life should just be fun without some sort of mandatory legislation.
Motoring used to be fun. You got the car out when you wanted it and insured it when you needed to via nice insurance people who competed for your business and that kept the price down. But that’s all gone some time ago and now, if my nightmare actually happens, eating out’s going to go the same way. You’ll have to do it; you’ve no choice because some daft legislation will say you have to. But the price will triple, the government will take its cut and I’ll be living in paradise with insurance company executives as my neighbours. Or is that an oxymoron? 
25th March 2011

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