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Posh supermarket triggers sense of humour failure

The Cambridge branch of Waitrose has landed itself in hot Essential Ironing Water by underselling the Tour de France in a warning about disruption likely to be caused by the race.

On July 7 Cambridge will host the start of the last of the Tour’s three days in the UK as it heads to a London finish before returning home to France.

The stage route heads south from the centre of Cambridgedown the A1309, and turns left on to the A1301 almost at the store’s entrance, so anyone who finds themselves in need of an emergency restock of black summer truffle  or hard-boiled, ready-peeled quail eggs may just have to suffer. Or — the horror! — go to Sainsbury’s instead.

Warning shoppers of the likely problems a sign at the store said: “Just to let you know...

“Due to a local sporting event a number of roads will be distrupted around our branch causing difficulty shopping on Monday 7 July.

“We will be open as usual but ui may find it easier to do your shopping earlier in the week.”

Calmer heads might take this with a pinch of Anglesey sea salt and see it as understated, tongue-in-cheek British humour, but that hasn’t stopped local councillor Ian Manning from taking it seriously.

According to the BBC, Manning, who in November called for the council to offer workers flexible hours so they could watch the race, said that calling the Tour a local sporting event was “bizarre”.

“Given that Cambridge is the UK’s number one cycling city and the Tour de France is the world’s number one cycling event - if Waitrose believes this to be a ‘local sporting event’ the phrase never knowingly understated springs to mind, let alone undersold,” he said.

“To have the race in the city is just incredible - describing it as a local event is bizarre to say the least.”

Mick Draper, president of the Cambridge Cycling Club, said: “It’s totally the wrong way to describe it.

“It’s an international event that’s been all over the world, so you can’t call it a local event.”

A spokesman for Waitrose, said: "We're very sorry that we got it wrong."

We do wonder if perhaps Mr Manning and Mr Draper need to sit down with a nice cup of Early Grey and a chocolate biscuit and relax a little. It’s only a bike race after all.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

22 comments

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jmaccelari [237 posts] 1 year ago
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Yep - couldn't agree more. Talk about a storm in a teacup! These two seriously need to get themselves a life.

The race IS local! If it wasn't it would be in France!

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Colin Peyresourde [1637 posts] 1 year ago
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They say the same thing around the Olympic park....look I'm trying to set myself with a prime spot to view the race. The less people know about it the better. Sheesh.

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Quince [382 posts] 1 year ago
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'Local sporting event' distinguishes it from most sporting events that have their own dedicated venue, rather than taking place of local roads.

For those unaware of what 'Le Tour de France' entails, it seems like a relatively accurate description of the kind of disturbance people should expect. It's not what I'd stick in the TdF publicity brochure, but as a way of flagging up the arrival of 'a sporting event on local roads that may one's shopping routine', it seems fairly reasonable.

It's not gushing with praise or romance, but I don't think that's what it set out to do.

Just as well it's completely inconsequential, eh? Hooray!

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fictional wilson [8 posts] 1 year ago
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To be fair: it IS local to the shop, and it IS a sporting event. Bit of a pathetic whinge by the councillor.  37

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 1 year ago
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This is a local shop for local people.

I think Waitrose called this right. The tdf is a minor event. Everybody knows that the Giro is the leading Grand Tour. Followed by La Vuelta.

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Gizmo_ [1333 posts] 1 year ago
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Funnily enough, I saw that in my local one the other day and while I thought it was amusing, didn't feel it was worth complaining to the manager and getting my free coffee in a froth.

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BighugeMonkeysuit [15 posts] 1 year ago
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Check you out with your fancy club card!

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FluffyKittenofT... [1114 posts] 1 year ago
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This is great news!

Clearly there's a shortage of cycling-related things to complain about if a local councillor and a cycle-club chair are reduced to moaning about this complete non-issue.

Everything else relating to the subject must have been fixed in the last few days without my noticing. Hurrah! The promised land is here!

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nortonpdj [114 posts] 1 year ago
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Waitrose? Apparently it's a grocery shop.
One had ever heard of it.  4

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aprilpudsey [1 post] 1 year ago
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Waitrose & partners John Lewis might perhaps think harder about cycling as both an international sport and as a daily activity. There's a petition here to request they stop using those dangerous "Cyclists: DO NOT pass on this side" stickers on their vans (which even tfL have now been forced to abandon):

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/john-lewis-do-not-pass-the-buck-o...

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700c [819 posts] 1 year ago
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Slow news day?

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levermonkey [646 posts] 1 year ago
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Aren't we being constantly extolled to 'embrace' the Tour de France and to 'make it our own'? Isn't that what Waitrose has done? After all isn't the TdF starting in Cambridge that day? Doesn't that make it a 'local' sporting event?

Well done to Waitrose for taking what could be a contentious issue, i.e. people not interested in the event forgetting it is on and being annoyed their lives are interrupted, and giving them a gentle reminder with a little humour.

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skippy [408 posts] 1 year ago
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Perhaps the " moaners " could get around to speaking about THIS Petition :

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/john-lewis-do-not-pass-the-buck-o...

Since TFL has admitted they were WRONG to use " Cyclist Stay BACK " stickers , it can/will only be a matter of days before " John Lewis " decide that their Waitrose Consumers deserve BETTER treatment ? Didn't know that J L was doing so well , that they can afford to antagonise people ?

Anyone wearing these " Signs " on a vehicle , should be immediately STOPPED and inspected by the Authorities , have their vehicles inspected , their Eye sight tested , their Cell/Mobile phone checked , perhaps even breathalised ! After all if you advertise your Stupidity , you deserve what follows ?

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Ramuz [140 posts] 1 year ago
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I think this is a standard poster. I don't think there is a big problem. Plus this Waitrose lets shoppers hire out bike trailers for 3 days to take their goods home!

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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Wow, it's amazing what some people will get their knickers in a twist about.
The article however I found quite funny, I mean seriously how can anyone describe "Ironing water" as essential with a straight face and actually sell it to people for a pound?

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Flying Scot [908 posts] 1 year ago
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Get a life FFS.

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Gizmo_ [1333 posts] 1 year ago
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drfabulous0 wrote:

Wow, it's amazing what some people will get their knickers in a twist about.
The article however I found quite funny, I mean seriously how can anyone describe "Ironing water" as essential with a straight face and actually sell it to people for a pound?

"Essential" is Waitrose's 'basics' own-brand range.

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DoctorDee [9 posts] 1 year ago
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If they had named the event in question, would they not have risked censure from the event's lawyers for "piggy back marketing"?

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Nick T [913 posts] 1 year ago
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It's a sporting event, and it's happening locally on that day. What's the problem, exactly?

The only part I struggle with is the suggestion to do my shopping earlier in the week. What's earlier than a Monday?

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Beaufort [270 posts] 1 year ago
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Hilarity all-round. Maybe they meant 'Local' to the Milky Way ? That would be accurate.

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dp24 [201 posts] 1 year ago
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Nick T wrote:

It's a sporting event, and it's happening locally on that day.

Exactly. Sad people getting worked up over nothing.

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fustuarium [106 posts] 1 year ago
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A much more balanced view than Harrogate neighbourhood watch.....