Dear George Osbourne,
Congratulations - your pasty VAT is hotter than a Greggs Steak Bake right now. Everyone's got beef witchu, George! Thousands have absconded from their work duties and have dedicated their time - with admirable public-spiritedness, I might add - to coming up with natty little pasty puns. We're a united front! We're brilliant epigrammatists! We're... we're hilarious! And all in the name of baked goods. I'd venture to say we've not seen such culinary camaraderie since rationing ended.
But not everyone is being jolly though, are they George? I was having a little read on the tinterweb earlier and I noted many people complaining that your hot baked goods tax is just another way of taking a swipe at the working classes, who apparently eat nothing but Greggs's produce. It's alleged that you've failed yet again to tax silly middle class fripperies and have chosen to fire your budgetary bullets at foods so common that you can't even remember eating them.
Between you and me, George, I don't agree. There's nothing the middle classes love more than a dirty savoury pastry. Have you ever - on a cold, hungover morning - seen the turquoise hue of a Greggs outlet looming through the damp mist? If so you'll know that you don't need to be working class to get a disproportionate sense of joy as you walk towards its always-open door; an overwhelming conviction that everything's going to be okay. That the pain will soon be over. Within minutes you will leave clutching a hot little bargain. Warm fat will seep through the paper bag in which it is served, its pastry will melt in your mouth and its beef will explode around your tastebuds like a Tchaikovsky symphony. Rousing, moving and intense. Oh God. I feel quite emotional.
... Sorry, George. I got a little lost there. What I wanted to say was that even though all these middle-class people are accusing you of shafting the working classes (even though the reality is that it's themselves they're angry for) there is a way round it.
Tax all of their own silly foods!
Seriously, George, do it. The middle classes buy millions of tonnes of stupid foods because other middle class people buy them. But these gourmet fripperies either get banished to the back of a cupboard or eaten with the desperate wince of someone who wants so very much to enjoy the mouthful of ming they're grappling with but knows they never will. If you whack a bit of VAT on them, I'm sure the pain will soon be over.
I've compiled a short list of stupid middle-class foods to get you started.
Butternut squash. You will find one of these unwieldy phalluses in the back of most middle-class fridges. We know that we should buy them, because fashionable chefs cook with them, but deep down we know we will never eat them. That is because there is no knife sharp enough to peel them and, once we get to the pips, they begin to smell like rotten chicken.
Sea salt Every middle class house in the world has sea salt. Sea salt, you see, is fashionable and aspirational; fine salt is common and unhealthy. But I bet if you check the sell-by date of your average sea salt tube, George, you will discover that it went out of date at least three years ago. This is because in reality, middle class people can't be arsed grinding that stuff up with their delicate fingers, and it would be far too tacky to serve salt in a grinder. And so it sits there on their nice tables but is used only when other middle class people come round for supper.
Chicory Chicory has always tasted like shit. The fact that the middle classes like to put it in salads and drink it in tea does not change anything. The truth is, they can only really cope with it if it's smothered in expensive roquefort.
Pomegranate seeds Let's stop pretending that pomegranate seeds taste of anything. They do not. They are no more than pink crunchy frog spawn, and yet the middle classes will pay substantial amounts of money to have them cleaned and bagged. Why? What for?
Cacao nibs We know that these are a middle-class must-buy, because they are extremely expensive and packed with antioxidants and wise women who wear pricey linens and chunky silver bangles buy them. But seriously, George. Ask any middle-class owner of a packet of cacao nibs if they have the faintest idea what to do with them. You're unlikely to get a straight answer.
Artesan bread that costs £5.50 a loaf but still goes stale and mouldy within two days just like any other bread. And is normally served by a twat with a moustache. I don't think I need to expand on that. If you're willing to pay that amount of money for something that is already decaying then I'm sure you won't object to paying an extra quid. You deserve a stiff dose of VAT.