Best Before


If ever there was ever a term of recent times that absolutely makes my blood boil it is the title of this post – best before, or its equally nonsensical and totally misleading other incarnation – the sell by date.

How many people today throw away perfectly good food products simply because they see these words on the package, dreamt up by businesses in collusion with the EU and other controlling enterprises to maintain the turnover of stock? Sadly in the western world the answer is in the billions. Landfill sites in practically every western nation are full of unused food products, which prior to being dumped were perfectly serviceable.

Here in the UK from time to time I read about people seriously down on their luck being prosecuted as thieves for raiding the bins of supermarket chains in order to make use of perfectly good food discarded because it has gone beyond its sell by date. Bringing charges against starving homeless people for making use of the food in question boggles the mind.  After all, no one gets arrested when those self same people go to a food bank!

Now we move to a subject which I have had bitter personal experience of – being thrown on the scrap heap, made redundant in my mid fifties due to a breakdown; considered by the business world to be far too expensive to remain in their employment because of my age and experience. In other words, people like myself who had reached their own best before date. I’m happy to say that since finally reaching the legal age of retirement, I’m finally free from the endless financial worry inflicted upon me by tight fisted employers refusing to consider me for anything other than a low paid job, usually labouring on a building site.

My generation, the baby boomers born at the end of World War Two, have got our government seriously worried. So much so that they want to raise the retirement age to seventy, because according to them we cost far too much to maintain. What the ingrates conveniently forget is that we were paying taxes long before they were even a twinkle in their father’s eye.

Retirement is our reward. But judging by my own recent experience fighting with cold hearted bureaucracy in the form of the UK Department of Work and Pensions, to get them to pay me what I was owed in the form of the State Pension, official recognition for a lifetime of paying tax (granted not all of it here in the UK), really hurt them – bless.

What the tossers in the various government departments need to realize is that unlike food products, humans don’t go off until we naturally expire. We merely continue to enrich ourselves as we grow older. While my body may have now slowly but surely broken down, my mind, the thing that controls my every function, act and thought, has never been sharper. I had my first novel published when I was sixty-two. I also write short stories, blog posts like this and articles on a daily basis.

Since I retired earlier this month, I am now free from the incessant and unwarranted meddling in my daily life by the world of governmental bureaucracy. I no longer interest them thank goodness since I passed beyond my own sell by date.

In most non-western countries the older generations are venerated for their experience and knowledge gained during their lifetime. They are listened to and learned from by the younger generation, but not here in the UK.

We of the older generation have much to offer the young, despite what government bureaucracy believes. While we may no longer play any active part in the workplace we still have a lot to offer. As an OAP here in the UK, if you are lucky you will usually be ignored or barely tolerated, or at best considered a nuisance – I think you get my drift here.

That term should actually read – best after, not best before…

4 thoughts on “Best Before

  1. True in New Zealand too Jack, as you know..We also have the bonus of no apprentice schemes here like there used to be, so the mature worker doesnt get to pass along great skills. Another short sighted so called money saving scheme.. Dumbasses.


    • Over here Graeme the concept of apprenticeship has altered dramatically. I saw an example recently where a well known coffee shop chain offers apprenticeships in coffee making. What the hell happened to the traditional skills requiring an apprenticeship, like engineering, electrician, plumbing etc?


  2. Dead right Jack. There is far too much waste in Western Society. As you point out not only food but people. It is sad to see so many brilliant minds being wasted. As you also point out, you are spreading the good word with your writing. But the trouble is, even with this, there are so many other people in the same market place (some of whom are producing apallingly bad works) that your work is hardly a blip on the radar screen. How to get your work noticed is the biggest problem.
    The other issue you raised about food waste. Recently, in New Zealand, some of the supermarkets have started donating short dated products to charities. Long may this continue.
    The bigger problem that needs addressing is the dating of medicines. These do not actually stop working after any given date, but dating them has become a legal requirement. A doctor friend of mine, spent time in the Pacific Islands and arranged with a drug company to have outdated medicines sent to where he worked. This helped on many levels – the drug company got rid of excessive old medicines, the locals had free access to medicines, and it saved the problem of what to do with these old (often toxic) substances. I just hope that this programme continues today.


    • Starting on April the first Peter, millions of people over here will be worse off when the government’s ‘bedroom tax’ kicks in. You know the politicians are desperate to get their hands on ready cash when they bring in such a stupid law.

      Our banks will also be highly nervous today (27/03/2013), because today is when they find out how much money they need to find to balance their books – a repeat of Cyprus perhaps???


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