Paschal Donohoe’s great walks, Brexit’s ‘Project Batna’ and ubiquitous pumpkins
Planet Business: The cult McDonald’s sauce that made fans angry and other madnesses
Pumpkin up the volume: Tom Hoggard harvests Halloween pumpkins at a farm in Yorkshire. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA
Image of the week: Not so smashing pumpkins
There’s no escaping pumpkins in October – they’re the Donald Trump of Halloween. There they are, these giant, gungy, orange orbs, looming by the supermarket entrance, destined to be carved into jack-o’lanterns for no good reason whatsoever, or perhaps converted into soup that no one really wants, but it’s damn well going to be on the menu anyway because it’s almost Halloween. Last week, SuperValu said it expected to sell 120,000 pumpkins, all Irish grown, this year, while this mildly terrifying picture of a pumpkin operation in Yorkshire proves the madness is not confined to Ireland. It’s everywhere. Pumpkin beer. Pumpkin lattes. Pumpkin cupcakes. This sinister business must stop.
Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
In numbers: Sauce stunt
Number of packets of Szechuan sauce that some McDonald’s restaurants had in stock last weekend, while others had none. This proved too few to satisfy angry fans, leading to protests and police involvement – all in the US, obviously.
Years since this dipping sauce last made an appearance in McDonald’s as part of a tie-in with Disney film Mulan. It has been since been given cult status by animated television show Rick and Morty.
Price on eBay earlier this week for an unopened packet of McDonald’s “really, really limited” edition Szechuan sauce. The fast food chain now says it will bring it back again.
The lexicon: Project Batna
Batna is an acronym, standing for Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement, and it was coined way back in 1981 by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their popular book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Without Giving In. Essentially, a Batna is the best outcome that can be achieved without the other party. So if a negotiating table the width of the Champs-Élysées is separating the two sides, and the Zopa (Zone of Possible Agreement) looks like shrinking to the size of a golf ball, it’s time to start thinking about a Batna. This week, Newsnight political editor Nick Watt said Westminster’s “no deal” plan in the event its talks with the European Union go nowhere was being labelled “Project Batna”. Unfortunately, in the case of Brexit, the Batna is so rubbish for the UK that calling it a Batna is a euphemism of the grimmest order.
Getting to know: Lewis D’Vorkin
After ousting the last editor, the Los Angeles Times has found its new man in Lewis D’Vorkin (65), chief product officer of dedicated wealth-trackers Forbes, where he introduced a system whereby contributing bloggers get paid according to the web traffic they generate and advertisers pay to write editorial (or “authentic storytelling”). “I’ve always preached the power of change – and the need to peer through the nostalgic fog of what was,” D’Vorkin recently posted in connection with Forbes, which he joined in 2010. “Now comes the seven-year itch to do what’s next.” It turns out what he’ll be doing next is blasting through any remaining nostalgic fog at the Times. Meanwhile, in a separate development, its reporters are in the process of unionising.
The list: Great walks with Paschal Donohoe
Government “news service” MerrionStreet.ie has been working overtime following Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform around the corridors of power. Here are some Paschal Donohoe specials they have treated us to this week.
1. Lever arch stroll
The Minister, armed with a thick blue file, is filmed making the journey from his office to Cabinet to seek approval for the budget.
2. Sanguine descent
Donohoe, surrounded by the cast of Veep, skips down the staircase as he leaves his office for a pre-budget photocall outside Government Buildings.
3. No-escape march
The next part of the story is disappointingly told via still images rather than video, as the Minister crosses the cobbles and happily reaches the assembled media.
4. Dirty-job shuffle
Donohoe is ushered into a post-budget press conference, though his face suggests he’d just as easily be at home with a good book.
5. Montrose stride
It’s the morning after the budget day before, and Paschal looks cheery as he does a solo race up the steps of RTÉ radio centre for the annual phone-in.