pork scratchings   crisps


Dear Proff,

Settle a bet for me and my mate Dave, Prof. What’s the dullest pub snack? He reckons it’s pork scratchings but I’m sure its crisps. What do you reckon?

Dave Davidson
The Knackered Swan


Thanks for writing, Mr. Davidson. This kind of pointless debate is the bread and butter of Slight Predicaments.

Now, I’m always happy to help settle a gentleman’s wager but I’m afraid neither you nor this “Dave” are quite right on this one.  Lovely and traditional, the pork scratching is certainly duller than some of the more voguish innovations in pub food. An olive, for example, it beats hands down. Also, the scratchings are apt to form in rather irregular shapes, providing much needed fodder for dull pub conversation.

However, it is this very irregularity, inherent in the pork scratching, which is its downfall. Many is the Dull Man who has found the tedium of his snack disrupted by the discovery of a hair still attached to the scratching he is about to consume. We may all look forward to the day when the production of pork scratchings is more heavily regulated, ensuring only a minimal and conversationally useful deviation from the ideal. Until then, however, I would urge all men with a passion for dullness to avoid the pork scratching wherever possible.

This leaves us with your counter-claim, Mr. Davidson, the crisp. If only we lived in simpler times then I might be able to agree. In recent years, however, there has been an alarming trend towards decadence in crisp manufacture. I draw your attention to the Dorito, whose exotic tang has been disturbing the balance of the drinking Dull Man for some years. Sad to say, things seem to be getting worse. Only yesterday my own dear wife was tempted by a pack of hot chilli and marmalade Sensations. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that these jack-a-napes were manufactured by the once reliably tedious Walker’s of Leicestershire.

But fear not, Mr. Davidson. The world is not quite mad yet. My local public house still stocks a plentiful supply of plain and simple ready-salted crisps in a variety of brands. Doubtless, this is the dullest of all pub snacks and will be with us for a long time yet.

Incidentally, you and “Dave” might enjoy a game that me and my chums call ‘Guessing the Crisp,’ a blindfolded taste-test of two competing brands of ready-salted crisps. Be assured, there are few duller way to spend one’s time in a drinking establishment.

Prof Winston
Still Manor