Who do you have to screw to get a big bag of French Fries around here?

My kingdom for 200g (now 175g) of French Fries!

My kingdom for 200g (now 175g) of French Fries!

Just how hard should it have to be to get a 200gram packet of Arnott’s French Fries?

Oh, they’re 175grams now – forgot about the downsizing. Same price – 25 grams less in the packet!

So yeah, who the hell do you have to screw to get a 175gram packet of Arnotts French Fries?

Someone at IGA, my local supermarket perhaps? I’ve realised IGA actually stands for Impossible to Get Anything (you really want). I seem to live near the world’s dummest supermarket. It’s more Inconvenience shopping than convenience shopping.

Now if you know me, you’ll know I don’t ask for much in the way of food. I’m hardly Jamie Oliver in drag. I have simple pleasures….Balfours Pasties, Hot Chips made with real potatos and not from a frozen bag, And then there’s Arnotts French Fries. Years ago I think they were Smith’s French Fries. I guess they must have done a deal behind my back at some point.

They were so difficult to buy in my native Adelaide that, on my first trip to Sydney in 1980, I took a train trip to Chatswood (half hour out of town) to go to a vending machine that had them. How sad is that?

If I lived near a Woolworths I probably wouldn’t be writing this post. They usually have them. But I don’t. I don’t live near a Coles or a BiLo either. Not that they matter anymore because they have their own ‘home brand’ French Fries now. They taste like small strips of cardboard sprinkled with salt. Erghh.

I happen to live in the Bermuda Shopping Triangle. This is the centre of un-shopping in the inner west. Barely any shops and the ones that are here all need to be convicted of bad management and closed down. Particularly the local IGA.

The Bermuda Shopping Triangle

The Bermuda Shopping Triangle

Anytime you have a favourite brand of something, they stop selling it. Seriously. You just go there one day and it is no longer on their shelves and never reappears. I have been living in this area for the biggest part of 20 years so I know what I’m talking about.

Take my French Fries for example. The 200gram – er, 175gram – pack that seems too difficult to get. They flew a man to the moon and they can send internet via mobile phones but they haven’t figured out a way to get a regular supply of French Fries in my f****** suburb!

My local deli – ‘The Terrorist Shack’ we call it. And that’s an affectionate term. I go there a lot. You may not be able to get out the door without a discussion of middle east politics, but hey, that’s ‘local colour’, isn’t it? Anyway, they hardly ever have the big packs of French Fries – they know I want them. And I’m dumb enough to pay $4.50 for the privilege. ‘Can’t get them from the supplier’. ‘no, not this week..’, ‘tried another supermarket and can’t find them’….you’d think I was asking for Russian caviar in a crystal diamond-encrusted jar!

The IGA, well they claim to be a ‘supermarket’. There’s nothing ‘super’ about them. Their prices are outrageously high, their range is pathetic and their service is slow. But around here they’re the only game in town so they get all the business.

Once, about a year ago, I spotted a 200gram packet of French Fries in the washing powder section. I did a classic-double take then snatched them up before anyone else could see them. My eyes never left the trolley as I wheeled around doing the rest of my shopping. ‘Jesus, you do love me after all,’ I silently exclaimed.

But that was it. One lone packet. The next few times I went there, nothing. Nada. Nil.

One night, in frustration, I saw an old man in the same aisle as me. He seemed to work there. I collared him, ‘where are the French Fries?, where are they?!!!!’ He replied, ‘Oh we only had them in in once because they were in the catalogue. We got one box in and that was it. Do you want them?’

DO I F****** WANT THEM??? Oi vey!

He promised to order them in and sure enough, about a week later, they were in stock. For a day or two. And then they ran out. And so I had to wait another week. And then they came back in stock. And then they ran out again after a few days. And I had to wait a couple of weeks this time. Seriously, you’d think they were importing them via from Somalian shipping channels.

Then, for the last month, nothing. I happened to be in the city and notice that Arnotts had ‘downsized’ the packet to 175gram. I was enraged but what could I do? How can an addict argue with a monopoly supplier? You take what you get and that’s that.

But the size change seems to have put the local IGA into a spin. Nothing for a month. ‘Next Wednesday, next Wednesday,” the boy says, ‘See the W on the ticket, it means they come in on Wednesdays.” Yeah right kid. I’ve been waiting so many Wednesdays I’ve visibly aged.

Finally, on the weekend, I saw the old man again and asked him ‘Why no French Fries?’ He was confused. Okay, so English wasn’t his first language but it was if I was asking him why he didn’t have mink stoles in stock. Another younger member of staff came along and I poured my guts out to him…’You had them, you used to have them, but then they changed the pack size and then you didn’t get anymore and then they said Wednesday but they didn’t come in on Wednesday and I looked and looked and now the ticket has gone from the shelf. Now there’s nothing there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

He seemed to realise the seriousness of my situation and tried to translate my dilemma to the old man. No luck. So the kid says he’ll speak to the big manager on…Wednesday…about getting them back in stock. I’m not convinced. I think it’s going to end in a big fat nothing. And I’ll have to go back to trawling the streets of greater Sydney again looking for the holy grail…a large bag of Arnotts French Fries.

Yeah sure, I can get 50gram packets in other places from time to time. (actually that’s 45grams now – downsizing again). But they just don’t cut it….I need the big one. All 175 grams.

Is that really so much to ask of the world??????

…..sigh…..

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5 Comments

  1. Samuel

    Not really sure what you’re talking about. But to answer your question, I don’t know anything about what you’ve been doing on the web. I don’t visit any ABBA related websites. That was another lifetime! I don’t have a problem with anyone being a fan or a contributor to fan websites just as long as they leave me out of it. The last thing I need is to be reminded of the ‘A’ word! To quote Tina Arena..’please understand, now I can dance.’

    • So you do not have any association with ABBA and their music anymore. What a shame!

      OK then. We’ll won’t talk about “I am an A, a B, a B and an A” anymore! I suppose that goes for Chess, Kristina and the rest as well.

      What I was talking was that at that party you did some embarrasing things to me like continuing slapping me on the face. But I suppose you had too much to drink! You also did someting else which upset me very much but deep down inside I know you are a really nice guy. Maybe not a complete gentleman though!

      Samuel

      We’ll let ABBA rest in peace wherwe you are concerned then.

      But I will be working on Chess articles soon.

  2. G’Day

    It is good to have you back on the internet! Do you miss ABBAMAIL?

    I suppose this is how life is meant to be!

    Funny ha!

    Guess what? It has been over a year since I first met you! Do you remember that day?

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

    • Hi Samuel

      No I don’t miss ABBAMAIL. It was strange to adjust to not having that workload every day at the beginning. But now I’m on a new road and the whole ABBA thing is in the past for me. Yes, I do remember meeting you a year ago at the Lewisham Hotel – we were having a get together for Neil Hopwood I believe. Just shows you how fast time flies!

      • Hi !!!!!! (OK, sorry I submitted this comment in the wrong place: so this section is where it should be.)

        What I have learnt about you, is that you like and enjoy (experimenting in) playing with fire, but deep down inside, you are a really nice guy.

        You never do mean to upset people when you do let them down.

        IIt’s just that you did burn me, just a bit at that party!

        I did deleted your name on an ABBA article posted to ABBA WORLD BLOG. Do you know which one it was?

        Anyhow,WELCOME BACK with your new website!

        I’ll cherish it!

        I personally do miss ABBAMAIL though!

        But you have done the right thing in closing it down – it was about time! You deserve a break from all that madness or it’ll simply drive you insane!

        You and Grant can both have your life back now!

        What do do think of what I’ve been doing with FABB-IAN COLE’S ‘ABBAWORLD/Phenomenon in Australa’ website these last couple of years. Do you ever enjoy anything from it?

        With Kindest Regards
        Samuel Inglles


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