RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Lose £££s on Dishi Rishi's 3:4 diet

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Lose £££s on Dishi Rishi’s 3:4 diet

Dishi Rishi’s ‘Money For Nothing And Your Chips For Free’ deal has been a runaway success, depending on your point of view.

More than 35 million half-price meals have been served and the Chancellor is coming under pressure to extend the scheme beyond the end of August.

Restaurants report record takings on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when diners are eligible for a discount of up to £10 a head, courtesy of the British taxpayer.

Sunak’s £500 million injection has certainly given the Covid-crippled hospitality industry a much-needed shot in the arm.

Rishi Sunak places a Eat Out to Help Out sticker on a restaurant window during a visit to Rothesay, in the Isle of Bute, Scotland, this month

Punters have been packing in to cafes, curry houses, fish and chip shops, pizza parlours and burger bars.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that when the discount ends at midnight on Wednesdays, business falls off a cliff.

Weekends, when you’d expect pubs and restaurants to be rocking and rolling, are eerily quiet in many areas.

Not only that, but some establishments have already pulled out of the scheme, which they accuse of attracting the ‘wrong kind’ of customer. Upscale restaurants have been besieged by riff-raff determined to take full advantage of half-price menus.

‘Oi, luv, double lobster and chips over here. And make it snappy!’

‘What do you mean, you’ve run out of caviar?’

(Sounds like that marvellous scene in The Blues Brothers, when Jake and Elwood invade the dining room of a snooty hotel to persuade the maitre’d, Mr Fabulous, to rejoin the band. 

After offending the other, regular, diners — ‘How much for the little girl, for your women?’ — they threaten him: ‘If you say No, we will come here for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day of the week.’)

Restaurant owners complain about staff being abused by impatient punters who fail to appreciate they are being run off their feet because of the increased demand.

More than 35 million half-price meals have been served and the Chancellor is coming under pressure to extend the scheme beyond the end of August. Pictured: Diners enjoy pizza as they sit at a restaurant table in London

Dishi Rishi’s ‘Money For Nothing And Your Chips For Free’ deal has been a runaway success, depending on your point of view

In Leicester, which was supposed to be in lockdown during the first two weeks of the scheme, police were called to break up huge crowds queueing at food outlets.

Social distancing guidelines have gone out of the window. Funny how people don’t mind cramming cheek-by-jowl into a cut-price kebab house, but are allegedly too frightened to go back to work.

Inevitably, greed has taken over. The maximum £10 discount was intended to apply to the total bill.

But some chancers have attempted cynically to play the system. The proprietor of a restaurant in Torquay said: ‘They are trying to get round it by ordering a starter, then asking for the bill; then ordering the main course after they’ve had the bill, so they get a double discount.’

Something which began as a modest, temporary stimulus, designed to put the hospitality sector back on its feet, is now viewed as an entitlement.

Sunak’s £500 million injection has certainly given the Covid-crippled hospitality industry a much-needed shot in the arm

I’ve heard contributors to radio phone-ins boasting that they’re eating out three times a day Monday to Wednesday.

Is that all? It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that there are thousands of gluttons waddling from one restaurant to another, filling their boots.

They kick off at breakfast with the full English and follow up with coffee and cakes for elevenses, before it’s time for a four-course lunch. 

A quick snooze, then afternoon tea, chicken tikka masala for dinner and a sweaty doner kebab on the way home. If they play their cards right, they can ‘save’ £60 a day, Monday to Wednesday. That’s £180 a week, which isn’t to be sniffed at — especially if you’re on furlough, or ‘working from home’.

Treble Big Macs all round!

Despite the Government’s ban on junk food advertising, there’s no restriction on what you can buy. I don’t suppose a lot of quinoa is being shovelled down under this scheme.

A few years ago, I remember going to a chippie in Blackpool, round the back of the Imperial Hotel, which was offering a ‘Recession Beater Special’, consisting of two beefburger patties and two slices of processed cheese in a large bap, dipped in batter, deep fried and served, naturally, with a generous helping of chips.

Never mind beating the recession, eat a couple of those coronaries-on-a-bun and you’d be lucky to see the end of the recession.

If that chippie’s still in business, it’s probably offering the same delicacy as a ‘Covid Special’, complete with a complimentary can of full-fat Corona.

Regular readers will know I’ve always had my doubts about the wisdom of Rishi’s rash scheme.

Surely it would have been better to give the hospitality industry, say, a prolonged rates, National Insurance or corporation tax holiday and let cafes and restaurants decide for themselves how best to manage their businesses. 

Then they could have chosen to spread out any discounts across the week, rather than trying to pack everything into a three-day, Monday to Wednesday swill.

And how does subsidising fried chicken and chips for millions possibly fit in with the Government’s latest anti-obesity drive?

Now, though, I realise it’s a stroke of genius. Rishi has invented a new diet, the 3:4 — modelled on the popular 5:2. 

Obviously, by encouraging people to eat out as much as they can between Monday and Wednesday, the hope is they’ll be too stuffed to face any more food until the scheme kicks in again.

By fasting for four days, those excess pounds will fall off, the remote chances of catching Covid will vanish altogether and Our Amazing NHS will be saved to fight another day.

Brilliant.

Pig Out To Help Out!

On Tuesday, I brought you news that the woke brigade had turned their attention to the names of birds they found offensive, including the Hottentot teal and the obscure McCown longspur, named after a 19th-century Confederate general. 

A number of you have written wondering when they will get round to the common-or-garden blackbird.

Barbara Occleshaw, from Conwy, and George McKie, from Warrington, both suggested using the blackbird’s proper Latin name, Turdus Merula.

Then again, perhaps not.

Rugby Union has been dragged into the Black Lives Matter madness.

South Africa’s sports minister has attacked a number of his country’s leading players who refused to take the knee before the start of play in England’s Gallagher Premiership at the weekend.

At least they demonstrated commendable independence of mind. Whatever happened to keeping politics out of sport? It was bad enough when professional football clambered on the BLM bandwagon

Then Exeter Chiefs rugby club was badgered into dropping its Red Indian mascot. It can only be a matter of time before the ‘anti-racism’ fanatics turn their attention to Saracens and Wasps.

After all, we obviously can’t have a club named after Muslim warriors, let alone one which celebrates White Anglo Saxon Protestants.

Scented candle in the wind

Call me old-fashioned, but who thought it was a good idea to bring out a candle which smells like a portable khazi at Glastonbury?

Hollywood’s Here We Go Looby Loo Lifetime Achievement Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow really started something when she launched an intimately fragranced candle called Smells Like My, er, Wossname.

Bizarrely scented candles seem to be all the rage these days. You can now buy The Festival, which evokes, among other aromas, the ‘shimmer of distant Portaloo’. 

Call me old-fashioned, but who thought it was a good idea to bring out a candle which smells like a portable khazi at Glastonbury?

Imagine trying to interest the Dragons’ Den gang in that idea. ‘And what do you call your invention?’

‘I’d Give It Five Minutes.’

Loved the couple from Dorset who have turned a fairground bumper car into a road-going vehicle, powered by a mobility scooter. It might just come in handy in our hands-free motoring future.

When I read that drive-in movies were booming because of Covid, I assumed you had to be stationary, in a field, in front of a giant cinema screen — not able to watch a film on your dashboard or an iPad on your knees while travelling at 70mph in the driving seat.

Would you trust a computer to navigate your way safely round the M25? Let’s hope it doesn’t use the same algorithm that worked out this year’s A-level grades.

I’m all for new technology, within reason, but this sounds like a recipe for a motorway pile-up waiting to happen.

Hands-free and . . . bumps-a-daisy!

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