Dear Mr Branson
REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008
I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.
Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at thehands of your corporation. Look at this Richard. Just look at it: [see image 1, above].
I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?
You donít get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, itís next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. Thatís got to be the clue hasnít it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in: 'Answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in?' [see image 2, above].
I know it looks like a baaji but itís in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well youíll be fascinated to hear that it wasn't custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. Itís only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.
Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see whatís on offer.
Iíll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine itís Christmas morning and youíre sat their with your final present to open. Itís a big one, and you know what it is. Itís that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.
Only you open the present and itís not in there. Itís your hamster Richard. Itís your hamster in the box and itís not breathing. Thatís how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this: 'It's your hamster in the box and it's not breathing. That's how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this' [see image 3, above].
Now I know what youíre thinking. Youíre thinking itís more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. Itís mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.
Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.
By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to itís baffling presentation: 'I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it's baffling presentation' [see image 4, above].
It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldnít want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.
I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.
Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:
'It was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson's face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen' [see image 5, above].
I apologise for the quality of the photo, itís just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnsonís face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:
'Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this'[see image 6, above].
Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. Iíd had enough. I was the hungriest Iíd been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.
My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations: 'Richard...What is that white stuff?' [see image 7, above].
Yes! Itís another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.
RichardÖ. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them Iíd done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.
So that was that Richard. I didnít eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I canít imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.
As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. Itís just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to itís knees and begging for sustenance.
- Paul Charles, Virginís Director of Corporate Communications, confirmed that Sir Richard Branson had telephoned the author of the letter and had thanked him for his ďconstructive if tongue-in-cheekĒ email. Mr Charles said that Virgin was sorry the passenger had not liked the in-flight meals which he said was ďaward-winning food which is very popular on our Indian routes.Ē
Source: Virgin: the world's best passenger complaint letter? - Telegraph