Two of the ten things the internet loves are baked goods and grumpy people*, so everyone got extremely excited when Gazette Live reported on a North-East couple apoplectic with rage that their local Morrisons wouldn’t sell them pies before 9am.
Linda and Tony Gilkes went into the Berwick Hills Morrisons at 8:45 wishing to buy eight large sausage rolls and two steak bakes, but were told they’d have to wait 15 minutes. This made them very angry, so they contacted the newspaper.
As a story, it has everything - a vastly-too-large order for two people at that time of day, a wait too short to really be that angry about, and the great British tradition of angry people in local papers and angry people being photographed posing with the thing that made them angry.
However inconvenienced one might feel waiting fifteen minutes for a pie or ten, they absolutely spent more time than that contacting the Gazette, waiting for the photographer to come out and perfecting their grumpy faces.
(They have pies, in the picture. They should be smiling. Pies are what they wanted.)
Tony felt that something more sinister than “We don’t sell pies before 9am” was at play, telling the paper:
“There’s more to this. Morrisons have got their own agenda. They don’t want people to know about it, They have given too many ridiculous stories about why. They contradicted themselves over and over. Who do they think us customers are? We are the people paying their wages.”
Morrisons have apologised to Mr and Mrs Gilkes, and said that the pies should have been available for them to purchase.
(The thing that’s slightly uncomfortable is, there’s definitely an element of snobbery in how excited people online get about stories like this. The story wouldn’t have held anywhere near such appeal for Twitter if the couple were from Brighton and shopping in Waitrose. It’s the “Ha ha ha, of course they want ten baked goods first thing in the morning from a cheapish supermarket outside a town in the North-East!” element people enjoy, a wankerish “Gosh, imagine what it must be like having such a shit life that you can be angry about this” thing. And then the photo is the greyest thing imaginable. Like, it’s all a bit of fun and everything, but there’s definitely a hint of something rather unpleasantly sneery beneath the surface. When people talk of bubbles and elites and stuff, isn’t this what they’re talking about? Is gleefully jumping on the miserable old gits complaining about their pies actually reinforcing the divides that are causing this country such pain? It’s hard to say. Snobbery is bad, but so is being incredibly petty about not being able to eat ten pies for breakfast. Life is complicated. But maybe this explains Brexit.)
As it turns out, Linda and Tony Gilkes are quite unpleasant. Twitterer Paddy Sisyphus, a fan of local newspapers, recognised them and revealed they received a court injunction for harrassing their neighbours with over one hundred complaints and filming them without permission.
I'm unduly irritated by the meat pie couple story going viral via the Gazette. A THREAD.— Paddy Sisyphus (@PaddySisyphus) April 16, 2018
I thought this pair looked familiar, and then I realised it's the same couple I had on the side bar of the local news blog I ran from 2010 called The Nether Regions. Tony and Linda Gilkes. pic.twitter.com/WjQliNCyU1
Here are a couple of the Gilkes' previous local news appearances, when they were given a court injunction for harassing their neighbours with endless complaints (106) and filming them on CCTV. They're probably not nice people. They're serial complainers. pic.twitter.com/eKhjD55Etk— Paddy Sisyphus (@PaddySisyphus) April 16, 2018
When serial complainers win a complaint, especially via the media, they feel vindicated and will complain more. Now pies are on sale pre-9am, how long until the Gilkes are back harassing their neighbours? This time with pies thrown at neighbours' windows at the crack of dawn.— Paddy Sisyphus (@PaddySisyphus) April 16, 2018
Paddy describes it as “contrived bumph fed to the Gazette by two egomaniacs with a track record of trying to get in the local paper. The Gazette have lapped it up and written a story with the aim of going viral”.
Stuff like this does go viral, of course, and this was undoubtedly the most-read story on the paper.
So, the Gilkes are bad for being cantankerous grumpy complaining old gits, the Gazette is bad for cynically running a non-story in the hope that the internet would laugh at it (which it did), and everyone who laughed at it is bad for being snobby metropolitan elitish types.
Are… are Morrisons the only goodies in this story, for thinking nobody needs to eat a meat pie for breakfast? But then, they went back on that.
Is nobody good? What a world.
(* The other eight are racism, pornography, movie spoilers, child stars who grew up hot, weight loss, misattributed quotes and lists with the wrong number of items on them)