A Horrible Story

Gaza, Iraq, ISIS, Syria, Ebola, Ukraine, Ferguson, most MH flight codes: we’ve been bombarded with bad news for the past few weeks. And yet still nothing quite prepared me for what I read yesterday in the Newcastle Chronicle (or “Ronnie Earle” as the street vendors advertise it). It was a tough decision whether or not to share this on here, but I feel that I am writing for an educated, broad-minded and mature audience, and if I’m going to sweep things like this under the carpet, then who else is going to share it, and consequently, how will be people become informed and how will individuals affected by this sort of horrific event find closure?

That said, despite your educationitude, your broad-mindedness and your maturity, I will warn you now that what you are about to read is a no-holds barred, graphic description of a tremendously harrowing and distressing occurrence, so please be ready for what follows.

Jimmy Cragen, of the Fossway, Byker, Newcastle, found his cans of Fosters were empty after being stored in his garage.

Yeah. I know. Deep breaths.

Jimmy opened a case of the amber nectar only to find some of the cans were completely empty and the rest were almost empty with only a few drops sloshing about inside.

I had to stop here the first time I read the story (yes, I’ve managed to get through it more than once). I think it was the thought of Jimmy’s sheer disappointment, together with the lonliness of the remaining few drops in those cans which made me – and I’m sure you too – contemplate the solitude of being. I simply had to take a moment out before I could continue. And then I continued.

There was only one full can but that has lost its fizz and had no pressure.

I’ll admit it. I broke down here as the one last glimmer of hope was cruelly extinguished in a lack of fizz and complete absence of pressure. Can you imagine Jimmy’s joy as he found the one remaining full can in the pack, and then his absolute despair as his happiness was crushed under the jackboot of misplaced dreams of carbonation.

JS45093310Jimmy’s long suffering wife, Can. Sorry, sorry – it’s “Ann

Do this next bit in a Geordie accent and it sounds a million times better.

Jimmy, 53, said 10 cans were affected by the disappearing booze.
“It’s a mystery what happened to the lager but it’s not there. I couldn’t believe it when I went to get a can and realised that every one of them had nothing or almost nothing in.

I am in the habit of stocking up on cheap 50p a can lager and drinking it at home after they banned smoking in pubs. I like to have a big supply and will often have loads of slabs piled up on top of the dishwasher in the garage. These ones were bought at Asda last Christmas and have been sitting around waiting their turn.

I never noticed anything wrong when I carried them home. When I went to open the first few cans I thought nothing of it, crushed them and threw them away but I realised it was a lot of them, not just one or two, and knew something was wrong.”

There are approximately 36 things I need to question in the quote above (who else here has a dishwasher in their garage? “Ah park me car in me kitchen, me.”) but the lager-based ones which stand out head and shoulders of the others include the fact that his lager was bought eight months ago, the fact that there was no appreciable difference in the overall mass of the affected cans at the time of purchase and the fact that when he discovered that “the first few cans” were completely devoid of lagery goodness, he “thought nothing of it”. This suggests that Jimmy has some sort of (presumably undocumented) threshold level when it comes to overall expectation of wholly-filled cans in a pack of lager. I’ve attempted to describe this here:

Number of empty cans in pack of lagerAction required
0-1Crush empty cans.
2-3Think “Something is wrong here”.
4-6Look confused. Swear a bit.
7-9Tell Ann. Kick cat. Swear some more.
10Phone local newspaper immediately.

So when this next happens to you, you now know what to do. I have to say that my “do something” threshold is much, much lower than Jimmy’s. I’ve generally kicked the cat before I’ve even got to the dishwasher in the garage, let alone find a disappointingly empty can of lager.

A spokeswoman for Heineken, which owns the European rights to the brand, said they needed to see some of the cans before they decided what to do:

“We take quality control very seriously and want people to enjoy Foster’s in first class condition. It is very rare that we have problems with our packaging and when Mr Cragen contacted us, we advised him to send us two cans as samples so we could investigate his complaint further and ascertain the cause of the issue. Mr Cragen has yet to send the cans and it is difficult for us to help him further until we examine the products concerned, and understand how they have been stored.”

On a dishwasher. In a garage. Since last Christmas. What could possibly have gone wrong? Listen, pet. It’s either the poor general standard of your canware or the aluminum fairies have been hanging around in Jimmy’s outhouse again, stealing bits of your tins. And then what of the floppy, flat one? What happened there? Was the bubble man off that day? How could you do this to Jimmy? Have you seen how displeased it’s made his wife? Can you even imagine how screwed up his face must be?

This is heinous. Action must be taken.

For Jimmy’s sake – and for your own well-being and enjoyment, I’m launching the #BoycottFosters hashtag right now. I might even organise an online petition.

That’ll learn them.