I don't buy newspapers that often, but when I do I seem to have some kind of reflex action which makes me pick up the Guardian. Today, though, I restrained myself and plumped for the Independent instead. "Newspaper of the year", it proudly proclaims on the front page. Well, at first I wasn't impressed - the sports coverage seemed distinctly average, even worse than the legendary Grauniad for careless and glaring proofing errors.
But elsewhere there was much to enjoy, from the coolly measured opinion pieces to the superb range of features: an interview with the bloke who created a "magic" panacea cream in his garage (people who spend too much time in their garage should always be regarded with suspicion...), insightful media pieces on the future of the Mirror and the BBC's coverage of Glastonbury (I'll ignore the lame feature on the Daily Telegraph by a dewy-eyed Peregrine Worsthorne, even though he does have a pop at Daily Mail columnists and SWSL hate-figures Simon Heffer and Peter Hitchens), and fascinating arts articles on Belgian painter Luc Tuymans and documentary film-maker Michael Grigsby.
But, of course, the feature that guaranteed my overall approval was one which focused on that finest of pub snacks, and one to which my addiction knows no bounds: pork scratchings. Apparently, they're becoming increasingly popular among the Atkins crew as a low-carb snack, and now they're being sold in six Pret A Manger outlets as part of a trial: "They're fatty, sometimes hairy, occasionally with an inky hint of a tattoo, and most of them come from the West Midlands. They have names like Mr Porky, and their image is not traditionally a glamorous or healthy one. This week, pork scratchings (what else were you thinking of?) have taken on a bourgeois respectability". Food of the gods, they are. The hairier the better.
Anyway... I'm not alone in feeling that the Guardian has been becoming a bit lazy and dull of late, and when it comes to music features Alexis Petridis seems to wind me up regularly. From this point onwards, I may well be an Independent man - as Destiny's Child didn't sing.