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Martin Kelner, Journalist, Author and Radio Presenter.
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Screen Break

Screen Break - Number 2
By Martin "Screen Break for free, gawd help us" Kelner on Feb 29, 2016 - 8:48:50 PM

The latest weapon in the war on obesity is Walkers Tear 'n' Share crisps.   All right, it's the other side's weapon, but know your enemy and all that and, be honest, what a concept.

I saw them advertised during yesterday's Manchester United - Arsenal match, a bag of crisps that turns into a bowl, they said.   Yes, that's right, a bag of crisps that turns into a bowl.

How it works is that you tear off the top of a flat-looking bag, which opens up the whole shebang into a bowl-like shape, enabling you to hand them round, and your companions to take a handful without the tiresome business of reaching into the bag, or indeed plunging their mitts right into the crisps, with all the attendant health risks - although personally I try not to associate with the kind of people who can't be trusted to wash their hands after the toilet

In the advert, the crisps are being shared by much-loved TV personalities and former international footballers Jamie Redknapp, Alan Hansen, and Gary Lineker, dipping into the magically transformed bag without taking their eyes off the screen.

See, when someone passes round an ordinary bag you have to look away for an instant to check on the exact position of the bag, width of opening and so on, and you could miss a goal.   And if you do, there's, er, very little chance Sky Sports will show it again.

What impressed me most about the ad was the thought that now that every single possible combination of flavours has been exhausted - chipotle and lime, anyone? Manchego and olive? (these are real); sea salt and cracked black pepper ("Are you sure this pepper's cracked? Perhaps it's just happy) - some dark genius at Walkers has come up with another strategy to tempt us into more high fat snacks.   Of course, different shaped bags.   Why didn't we think of it before?

Unusually, in honour of the newly relaunched Screen Break, I watched the football as well.   I was unimpressed by Arsenal's  limp surrender, but not as unimpressed as pundit Graeme Souness, from whose ears metaphorical smoke plumed as he embarked on an extraordinary rant, branding Arsenal's performance as "bordering on a joke."

What you need, in order to compete in football matches, said the former international, is "a word I can't use here."   Arsenal, he said, didn't have it.   "They lacked it, they lacked it in abundance."   Whether it's possible to lack something in abundance is a moot philosophical point, but I assume what Arsenal were short of according to Souness was "balls," which is a word I can use here.

In fact, I can use any word I want.   That is the joy of appearing purely on my own website.   Sure, I miss out on a freelance payment, and the prestige of appearing in a well-respected national newspaper, or even The Guardian (I'm joking, I'm joking), but I am free to use any words I wish.   Cockmonger, arse-biscuit, minge-rabbit, even foreign terms like Scheissenpilf, are all there for me, should the necessity arise.

Free at last.   Readers who have followed what I laughingly call my career through its various sackings will know that among the invaluable collection of reference books I keep on my desk is Viz comic's Roger's Profanisaurus, one of whose saucy euphemisms I have very occasionally managed to smuggle into a column.    Well now the whole volume is fair game, quite literally an open book; gobbler's cough, grumblehound, festival flange, I can pick where I like.

No longer need I spend Sunday afternoons debating with Guardian sub-editors the relevance of some salty colloquialism I had decided to sully its pages with in pursuit of my art, although in fairness to the fine folk at that paper, it was more likely to be a dispute over the position of the apostrophe in 'gobbler's cough.'

Meanwhile, if you're looking for the most otiose three-and-a-half minutes of television, and you can't face BBC Breakfast or The One Show, may I direct you to the post-match interviews of the indefatigable Geoff Shreeves.

It's Geoff's job to lurk in the tunnel interviewing whichever muddied oaf has just been awarded the Barclays Man-of-the-Match trophy.   Responses in these dialogues have barely moved on from the Monty Python parody (kiddies, ask your dad), "I hit the ball Brian, and there it was in the back of the net," but Geoff, bless him, still has to fill the unforgiving three-and-a-half, so cleverly beards the uninterviewable with the unanswerable.

For instance, his opening question yesterday to the young boy we are contractually obliged to call two-goal hero Marcus Rashford was: "How much is this the stuff of dreams?"

"On a scale of one to ten, I should say about 6.5," replied young Marcus, "But was it not Shakespeare who said 'We are such stuff as dreams are made on'?"

I made that quote up, but here's one I didn't.   Commentator Martin Tyler, over a shot of injured rivals Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw sitting together in the stand: "It's lovely to see two young men enjoying each other's company."   And as I've been consulting Viz, I simply say fnarr, fnarr.

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