Well in our "new normal world" (a contender for most-used phrase-of-the-year, behind front runner "social distancing") of mixed messaging (another contender, with its friend "u-turn"), Eat Out To Help Out was a mixed message I happily accepted.
Although we have been told repeatedly how we Brits are all either currently morbidly obese - or probably on the way to being, our lovely government decided to give us a helping hand down this greasy, slippery slope by giving us the chance of having 3 meals a day three times a week at a huge discount. 🤗🤔
10 McDonalds hamburgers for a fiver anyone 🍔🍔🍔??KFC already discount their 9 piece buckets 🍗🍗🍗to £5.99 on Tuesdays (well so I've heard😉), so we can now get those for just £3 on a Tuesday!!! My arteries are furring up at the thought - though their Finger Lickin' slogan is probably not really ideal at the moment and definitely not on the list of 2020's most popular phrases.
However, as with Brexit (remember that??) and the Wearing Of Facemasks, this one of a kind out-of-the-blue-and-further-into-the-red policy has come with the usual mixed response from jo/joe public and caused the usual flurry of drama and outcry on social media.
It's wound up the indignants, the doom merchants and the greedy f**ckers- "why not take it off fruit and veg instead 😤"; "who's going to be paying for this??😡"; "why not have the discount at weekends too??🤤
It's brought out the rude, obnoxious cretins, demanding tables when there obviously aren't any and harassing fraught staff sweating behind face masks, then there's those doing their best to try and find additional loopholes for even more discount - eg a starter at one place, a main at another; pudding at a third...
Many others though have just been delighted to have the opportunity in this stressful time of furlough and financial trauma to escape their homes and to treat their families for a change.
Some other-level-tenacious folk seemed to have whipped up spreadsheets of the fancy places they'd always wanted to try but hadn't the means to do so and were smugly booked for breakfast, lunch and dinner every week within minutes of Sunak's announcement.
They're probably the ones that manage to always get Glastonbury tickets; the discounted rail tickets and win the best auctions on Ebay.
Then there's those who are oblivious to the whole EOTHO concept who have been wondering why their usual Costa caramel latte and cinnamon whirl has been half what they usually pay on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
EOTHO seemed to start with a slow burn and it was easy to get a table at most places whilst people wondered what the catch was or debated whether they were ready to eat out -and if so, whether they really wanted to eat out, inside if there was no outside. (you following?)
So it was tenacity; pre-planning; booking and being flexible in food choices that helped you take full advantage of the scheme. Those who have wandered in off the streets have been disappointed to find no tables anywhere; some restaurants who don't take bookings have seen queues round the block and other people have tried food groups they would normally turn their nose up at just to get in at a place offering the discount.
Being such a good citizen, and keen to help the economy I have selflessly been doing my part to help out our beleaguered hospitality industry. It has been a chore, but I believe it's important to help the cause 😇.
I dived in quickly from that first Monday before everyone woke up to the fact that this was a GOOD IDEA.
I tried to be all three at the start. Tenacious, pre-planned and flexible. Though I wasn't tenacious enough to secure a slot at Hawksmoor, the lauded steak place who had upped the ante with an additional offer - and not desperate enough to want a steak at 10 pm, the only available slot I could find on any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in August.
The pre planning was too stressful and time consuming due to my 6 sheet list of places I wanted to visit. I thought the Open Table booking system would crash at a vital point due to my trying every possible date and time combo in August with every possible restaurant...
So as the word spread, I quickly lost my booking touch, my keenness for pre-planning and surprisingly even my appetite. There's only so many times even I can eat out and was it really worth queueing in the rain at a favourite cafe to save a couple of quid when it's quieter and more relaxing post-Wednesdays?
On the whole, it seems some restaurants have loved the scheme and reaped the benefits after lockdown; others have already pulled out seeing their places empty towards the end of the week and had a lot of stress for little reward early week and others (mainly chains) have decided to extend it and pay the extra discount themselves.
So while it's been great for a greedy food addict like me, and I have done my best to Help Out where I could, I probably have slipped a couple of rungs down the ladder of obesity and spent more boosting the economy than I should have.
I will go back to watching Masterchef for cooking inspiration and wondering if I have the makings to be a future champion, whilst trying to make a quenelle (had to Google how to spell that) out of my tuna and pot noodle speciality lunch.
(PS EOTHO is till on till Bank Holiday Monday, August 31st for those who haven't entered the fray yet!!)