Since the start of all this madness, weird things have been happening to grocery items – toilet paper trading higher than oil on the stock market, anti-bacterial wipes being hoarded like bullion – but the weirdest thing to me has been the disappearance of Oat Brits.
To make matters worse, while toilet paper has made a triumphant return to the shelves and become as sought after as medical advice from Donald Trump, Oat Brits stubbornly persist in their absence.
What makes it doubly puzzling is that for many years I had assumed that maybe four other people and I on the planet ate Oat Brits. I base this on the fact that the Oat Brits shelves were always full when I shopped, and when I took my box, it was almost instantly replaced. It was as if the supermarket staff hid in the crawlspace above the aisle, like the aliens in the movie Aliens1 but instead of jumping out and devouring customers, they discreetly replaced the box I took and slunk away. Indeed I had often wondered whether the other boxes were just Ikea-style props to make it look like people other than me ate Oat Brits.
At first, I thought that perhaps Oat Brits were actually made in a factory in Wuhan and that is why they had disappeared. When I looked it up on the official CCCP website for Wuhan, however, I discovered that the city of Wuhan did not exist and indeed never had and that Coronavirus did not exist either and, even if it did, it was an American bio-weapon made by injecting disinfectant into Donald Trump and then spread around Wuhan, except that Wuhan did not exist and in any case was now encircled by a giant concrete wall paid for by Mexico.
Then I thought perhaps an internet rumour had spread to the effect that you could make toilet paper from Oat Brits, and so when the shelves ran out of Quilton, Uncle Tobys struck gold (or at least 5-ply).
So, why would I be leaping to these odd conclusions as to the absence of Oat Brits? Conspiracy theories – although I have heard the truth is much darker…
According to many recent scientific studies2 63% of internet traffic, and a good 85% of what people under 35 believe, is due to conspiracy theories. Although the most prevalent source of conspiracy theories – defined by top scientists as ‘things only people with compacted Oat Brits for brains would believe – is The White House, they have been with us for decades.
Indeed, one of the most resilient conspiracy theories is that the moon landings were fake, filmed at a secret location no-one will ever find, which means it is probably in my son’s room; Hannibal and every elephant he ever met could be in there and you would never notice. Many highly respected loons in the tinfoil-hat brigade maintain that the moon landings were fake, despite the fact that they were being watched by everyone on Earth, and that you can to this day, bounce lasers off the mirrors Neil Armstrong put there.
This conspiracy theory is not without its benefits, however; one of the conspiracy theorists, then 37-year-old Bart Sibrel, confronted moonwalker Buzz Aldrin and called him a thief and a liar; the then 72-yer-old Aldrin decked him. Whilst of course I do not condone violence, this remains the funniest thing on YouTube.
Strange theories have long perpetuated themselves even without the benefit of the internet. When I was in primary school I read a book called Secrets of our Spaceship Moon, which put forward the proposition that our moon is actually a giant spaceship.3 This was something I, at about nine years old, thought – based on the 100% made-up content of the book – was quite credible, until my Dad pointed out, using specific scientific terms, that it was complete bollocks. In my defence, of course, I was nine and the book was written as if it were non-fiction, rather than the plot to a movie script so bad Ed Wood couldn’t have dreamed it up.
That said, I am starting to think the continued absence of Oat Brits may be part of a conspiracy against me personally, to annoy me by getting rid of all the things I like to buy. For example, I recently had to buy a new pair of jeans, which is always a wrench because men tend to form strong bonds with veteran items of clothing; we will keep wearing a pair of undies even when it has degraded beyond the point that it can no longer be considered made up of complex molecules.
Giving up on a pair of jeans that are only 10 years old is just not something that comes naturally to men (nor does folding the jeans and putting them away, according to my wife). I needed new jeans because my old ones had been repaired so many times that I doubt there is 10% of the original denim left and I was walking around in what is basically a large, jean-shaped patch. Not that I didn’t try; I took them to the local seamstress and asked if she could fix rip number 237. She gave me the sort of look generally reserved for people whose brains have been replaced by cauliflowers and pointed out that in order to fix a rip in jeans we needed at least two pieces of denim to stitch and we were at least two pieces shy of that figure.
So I trooped off to Myer and asked the polite young lady where the Jag Jeans were kept, and she gave me her version of the brain-replaced-with-a-cauliflower look and advised me that Jag Jeans didn’t ‘retail’ anymore. “So it’s the Oat Brits all over again, isn’t it?” I said. She beamed the sort of non-threatening smile people tend to use when some idiot starts raving on about Oat Brits in the middle of the Myer clothing section and began backing slowly towards the safety of her cash register.
So now I have new jeans that aren’t the ones I like and remain Oat Brit less; I am beginning to think the Oat Brits are all jammed into the hold of the space ship we call the Moon, along with thousands of pairs of Jag Jeans, the entire population of Wuhan and the Loch Ness monster, but unfortunately not Donald Trump.
1. They were up all night on the name.
2. Or something I just made up.
3. They, too, were up all night on the name.