Spare us these pretentious menus

Pretentious menus are a feature of modern restaurant life. But the menu for the annual dinner of the children’s charity, Ark, was an outrage even by today’s standards.

Pretentious menus are a feature of modern restaurant life. As Tom Parker Bowles says in the Mail on Sunday, "heinous crimes" are committed daily against grammar and good taste, with tomatoes routinely described as "heritage" or "vine-ripened" and steaks described in excruciating detail. But the menu for the annual dinner of the children's charity, Ark, was an outrage even by today's standards.

The dinner is always a gala event and last week's, hailed as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's "social debut", was no exception. Ark is a laudable charity. It raises huge amounts of money for underprivileged children. So the actors, socialites and hedge-fund managers who cough up £10,000 a head to attend its yearly jamboree may not be over-fussy about the food. All the same, one wonders why they put up with a menu which reads, as Parker Bowles put it, like "a masterpiece of the satirist's art".

For the main course I'll spare you the starters or puddings guests were given a choice. One option was "Pacific Ocean black cod fillet: hand-glazed with a Japanese tamari and manuka honey reduction. Delicately balanced on a sumptuous organic pearl barley risotto, hand in hand with a delightful English courgette flower beignet, teriyaki jus". If you didn't fancy the cod and risotto "hand in hand" with a courgette flower beignet, whatever that is, then the alternative was "roasted fillet of Australian Kobe beef, nestling in a Kent garden pea puree, temptingly accompanied by a succulent spinach and onion compote, to die for triple-cooked Maris Piper chips and Indonesian long pepper sauce".

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It's hard to know where to start with this. Can a compote really be "succulent"? Why does it matter that the peas came from a Kent garden? And why did the beef have to be flown all the way from Australia? Don't we have cows in England? I'm sure the food itself was delicious. I have some advice for the caterers, though: get a new menu writer. As Tom Parker Bowles rightly asks: whatever happened to the concept of trusting the chef?

BBC's bum idea

The BBC has lost none of its genius for spending money. Take the ridiculously wasteful decision to "relocate" five major departments, including BBC Breakfast and BBC Sport, to Salford at a cost of £877m.

Predictably many of the staff don't want to "relocate" so the BBC is doing everything it can to smooth their passage. According to The Daily Telegraph, it has even employed "chair champions" to teach people how to sit down properly. Staff are being offered a choice of three models of swivel chair. Officials then teach them how to sit to ensure they are following health and safety procedures. Dan Walker, who presents BBC One's Football Focus, wrote on Twitter: "Just had a chat with a chair champion. I have to select my favourite model. all of them swivel". Goodness. Surely even BBC employees can decide how to adjust their chairs without professional help.

Tabloid money... Libya costs us £3m every day'

"Every time an Apache attack helicopter or a Tomahawk missile strikes in Libya, something is destroyed usually a care home for the disabled in the UK," says Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror. "Libya costs us £3m every day. Every day. The government cuts savagely at home but goes on a wild spending spree in the windswept sands of North Africa. Libya is the U-turn that David Cameron missed." Even if a Tomahawk "scores a direct hit on Gadaffi what next?" There isn't going to be democracy in Libya any time soon, "no matter how many disabled children David Cameron robs to wage his dirty little war".

MPs are to investigate why British petrol prices are so high, says Fraser Nelson in the News of the World. "Let me save them some time. Unleaded is136p a litre 80p of that is pure tax. Since Parliament voted to raise VAT, the tax is even worse. The biggest enemy motorists face? Tax-hungry politicians."

"RBS boss Stephen Hester has finally admitted our tax money has gone into obscene bonuses for his staff," says Fiona McIntosh in the Sunday Mirror. While grilled by a Commons committee, he let slip that some money had "leaked" into huge payouts. "As Mr Heston himself recently pocketed a £7.7m bonus, why did he use the word leaked' when flooded' is so much more accurate?"

Cheryl Cole claims she is not Simon Cowell's puppet but in fact she is, says Carole Malone in the News of the World. "She's been manufactured, bought and paid for by him. And if she continues publicly to snub and disrespect him he'll turn on her and she'll never work again."