Real meals: Me and my (subversive) spoon

Yup, you read me right: one of the “names” the Kellogg’s website actually suggested that punters might like to personalise their free cutlery with was . . . Butt Munch.

There was, for a while, a certain amount of tension; then it faded, as tension does. We’re all experimental animals, really, subject to vivisection by means of a scientific method we ourselves promulgate. The electric plate is charged, we yelp and try to struggle over the wall – but once we realise our struggles are futile we collapse, and lie whimpering as we’re subjected to shock after shock.

Stacey Solomon: ‘what a lovely young woman’

When the first British series of Big Brother aired in the early 2000s, the commentariat fell over each other’s Hush Puppies to condemn this storming of the cultural gatekeepers by Essex girls and Scouser boys intent on fame at any cost. As the Observer’s TV critic at the time, I was among these Cassandras, all of us reaching into our grab-bag of quotations to pull out the same, shopworn one by Warhol: “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” We decried the way Peter Bazalgette, the boss of Endemol, the production company that had developed the format, was severing notoriety from renown once and for all so that the talentless could take their place on the winners’ podium. Those of us who had wasted our youth on cultural theory went further, calling our readers’ attention to Guy Debord’s characterisation of “spectacular fame” in his collection of Marxist-Zen koans The Society of the Spectacle.

Real meals: Red Ochre Grill

The atmosphere in the Red Ochre Grill is distinctly chilly – not exactly what you would expect in the middle of a desert. There was an early-bird discount of 20 per cent for guests of the attached hotel, if you booked before 6pm for a table before 7pm; but we screwed up by 15 minutes and the maître d’ was emphatic: we’d have to pay full whack. Now I’ve been sitting over the remains of my kangaroo and macadamia salad for a full half-hour, waiting to pay the inflated bill, and my temperature has been plummeting the while. There’s nothing more real than this sort of tourist gouging – and Alice Springs is a tourist town, among other things. A tourist town serviced by tourists: mostly backpackers, most of whom in turn are from Britain.