My regular reader(s) will know that I spend some of the year in France, and at least some of that time is spent drinking wine. Which involves me in visiting the local supermarket or off-licence to select my evening tipple. One thing I have noticed is that it is almost impossible to buy a wine that is not award winning. I used to leap on bottles that offered gold, silver or bronze medal performance at a … what’s the word the market men use … yes, budget price. It took me a while to realise that (a) almost every bottle had such an award and (b) they didn’t seem to be any better than the ones that didn’t. In brief, the awards were not there to raise quality, but to raise sales. My wife and I like rosé wines, so I had a look at the web-site of a rosé wine competition. The award of gold or silver medal does not go to just one wine – they go to a vast range, almost everyone that enters. Talk about ‘all shall have prizes’ !
The awards industry spreads far beyond wine, of course. We are daily offered award winning products, from the best savings account to the winning family car. The award that drew my attention recently, however, was the award-winning flatulence underwear. Think for a moment about the process of selecting the very best fart-pants in the UK. Presumably this must involve drawing up a shortlist of underwear with claims to filtration, and then some sort of comparative trials. Men and women with the ability of at-will gaseous release would need to be recruited, and then some poor devil would have to walk up and down and see how well the competing products were meeting the challenge. The verdict would be argued over by the panel, and secreted in a posh envelope. Then, the great night would come, where a C list comedian or impressionist or regional news-presenter would be the master of ceremonies. I say “C list” as I don’t see Stephen Fry competing for the gig. The marketing managers of the various firms will be at their tables, awaiting the announcement. “And the award for best filter pants of the year goes to …” (insert the obligatory reality show ten second pause “Sniffytrunks” (storm of applause, gracious nods from the losers).
Anyway, I’m on the lookout for any more implausible awards. All help welcome.