My partner, sorry, my ‘girlfriend’ to be respectful to her – ‘partner’ is just me accidentally slipping into the Wild West fantasy role-play that I make her do with me: I’m The Sundance Kid, incidentally. Cheers.
None of that’s true. However she does have coeliac disease. What that means is she can’t eat seal meat, or she goes mental.
That’s not true either. People with coeliac can’t eat gluten. What that means is that most wheat based products are out. Bread, pizza, biscuits, cake, battered fish, beer, some crisps, gravy in pubs and restaurants – you name, she can’t eat it. It can be a bit of a faff, eating out.
I do have sympathy for my girlfriend: because she goes out with me. But also in terms of her disease. It’s not her fault. It’s not her choice. I mean, she’s not attempting to make herself a more interesting person by being a fussy eater; although it wouldn’t kill her to try something**. She’s not intolerant. As I’ve said, she goes out with me but also she’s not intolerant of gluten either; she has an auto-immune disease.
I’m not suggesting that everyone shouldn’t be allowed their personal preferences. God knows, if I meet a new person, the main thing I’m looking for, in terms of personality, is someone with an imaginary digestive system complaint that, ideally, makes them a pain in the arse when it comes to finding somewhere to eat their dinner.
I went out with a girl for years who was a vegan. You know, no animal products at all. No meat, eggs, milk or anything else from an animal, thank you. All her friends were vegans too. I asked one of them once what her motivation was for being a vegan. I asked, “Do you not eat animals, drink their milk or wear leather shoes because you love animals, or do you just really fucking hate plants?” Pithy bon mots were my speciality at dinner parties. I still don’t know why she left me. Chicks, huh?
Diversion – Pizza
For my 23rd birthday, my vegan girlfriend said that, instead of going out for a meal, she was going to cook me a couple of real Italian pizzas. I do like a pizza. She’d lived in Italy on a few occasions, for a couple of years in total, so I presumed she knew what she was on about.
“It’s not going to have half a pound of cheddar on it you know, Middlerabbit,” she cautioned me, “This is going to be the genuine article,”
I told her I was looking forward to it. I am a fan of cheese in general, but I don’t like a lot of it on a pizza. What concerned me was the possibility that there might be no cheese of any description on it, but I was too scared to ask after the plant hating comment I’d only just been forgiven for making.
The night came. We went to see ‘Backbeat’, which I enjoyed enormously. Then we went home with some wine where she began to make a couple of pizzas from scratch.
She told me that the first pizza was going to be a spinach pizza which disappointed me because who the fuck wants a spinach pizza? Yeah, alright, maybe Popeye, but give over, eh? Fuck off, don’t make a spinach pizza. I didn’t say that because I was always getting slapped for what I attributed to being northern and she put down to a blinkered, unadventurous and suspicious 19th century outlook. You say tomayto… it’s just a pity you didn’t put any on your bloody looney tunes pizza, isn’t it?
Anyway, there wasn’t any cheese on it either. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the effort, but it was pretty horrible.
Next up, the pièce de résistance: a potato pizza. I know. It consisted of pizza base and sliced, raw potato arranged on it. That was it. No cheese. No tomato. It was a bit starchy.
“I can’t understand it,” she said, still chewing a mouthful she’d taken ten minutes previously, “I made them just like they do in Italy. It must be the ingredients; you can’t get them in this country, you know. Not here, anyway.”
The fucking ingredients? You can’t magic something reasonable out of a pizza base and sliced potatoes.
I kept my mouth shut though; she was off her tits. I knew that, but I quite liked it – until it got a bit much. Which it did, for both of us. But mainly her.
End of Diversion
My viewpoint is sympathetic: you can do whatever makes you happy. You can adopt any ludicrous food philosophy you want. No matter how much of a pain in the arse you’d like to make yourself into, you can do that. It’s legal. Which is more than you can say for mine.
My personal eating philosophy towards food is, unfortunately, compromised. What compromises it is reality. And ‘laws’. What I’m telling you is that I do have an ideal philosophy as regards food which I would like to follow and then there’s what I have to make do with.
What I want – ideally – is to eat any animal at all, providing I like the sound of it. You know, the taste of it. Being a modern man, I don’t like to stereotype because that’s bad, isn’t it? Nazis stereotype, don’t they? All racists stereotype groups of people, don’t they? So, I wouldn’t like to be like one of them and stereotype all the members of one particular breed of animal as being worthy of my digestive tract. What I’d like to do is only eat animals who are arseholes. Not ones that just have arseholes, because that’s all of them. What I’m looking for are individual members of various species who are cunts.
I don’t mean things like wasps, no. There might be some wasps who are as altruistic as it’s possible for wasps to be. That’s why I don’t want to stereotype any species – I’m not German** – I mean specific members of any given species that are arseholes. I don’t literally want to eat their bumholes, I don’t want that. Or their grillocks.
To put it simply, in general, I wouldn’t eat a dog. But, if that dog was an arsehole, I’d be happier eating that than, say, a musically gifted rabbit. Even if the arsehole dog could say “sausages” – the extent of canine verbal utterances with humanity so far.
Occasionally, I’ll be eating a chicken sandwich and the thought will enter my head: ‘What if this chicken was the poultry equivalent of Einstein? Or Gandhi? What if the beefburger I chucked in the bin this dinnertime was the bovine Picasso?’
Diversion – Euan Macphail and the dolphin:chicken conundrum.
I studied ‘Contemporary Learning Theory’ under Euan Macphail and I enjoyed it immensely, despite it also being the most complicated learning I’ve ever had to do. I’m not going to go into it here – or anywhere else, thank you – but I will tell you what Professor MacPhail used to spend his days doing.
Like Mike McAskey, he was a debunker. Like most psychologists, to be honest with you. Psychology is a bitchy discipline in which most of the people who work in it follow exactly the same path.
They come up with a theory, test it and publish it. Later, someone else comes up with an alternative theory to explain the same phenomenon and the two sets of researchers then spend the rest of their lives picking holes in the others’ research.
Euan MacPhail was very selective in terms of what he sought to debunk, because it wasn’t really theories that he was especially interested in.
What he was especially interested in was dolphins, and when I say he was interested in them, I mean he fucking hated them. Genuinely. He didn’t need much encouragement to go off on a half hour rant about how the public’s perception of dolphins was wholly inaccurate.
His trip was this: psychologists were always trying to prove that non-human animals had language. I know. There’s this thing called Hockett’s Design Criteria, which is a list of things that every form of communication must fulfil in order to count as a language. So, for example, one of them states that you have to be able to talk about something that’s not there at the moment. If a dog barks at another dog, it doesn’t count as language. It’s communication, obviously, but not language. So far, no non-human animal form of communication had fulfilled all of Hockett’s Design Criteria. Mind you, neither does any form of sign language, so that probably tells you everything you need to know about Hockett.
Anyway, the animals they tend to use to try to prove that, actually, animals do have language, are dolphins.
Why dolphins? Well, dolphins are one of only two animals with proportionately bigger brains than humans. The other animal is the spiny backed anteater. Beats me.
Euan MacPhail didn’t even subscribe to that point of view. What he thought was that the reason why people thought dolphins were intelligent was because they looked like they were smiling. He said that dolphins were fucking stupid and what he did in order to piss off other psychologists was, I thought, pretty funny.
Whenever anyone carried out an experiment with dolphins that seemed to have proved that they had genuine language, what MacPhail did was replicate it, but with chickens instead of dolphins. Not that he thought chickens were clever; he picked chickens specifically because they’re idiots. And, ludicrously clever bastard that he was, he always succeeded. The result was never that people said, “Oh, chickens have language as well!” of course, because everybody knows that chickens are fucking idiots. But if you can get a chicken to do what a dolphin does, it denigrates the dolphin’s achievements.
I cannot tell you how much I loved that man.
He had one series on television not long after I graduated. It was about animal learning and all that and he was obviously told to be a bit more enthusiastic about various shows of animal ingenuity, but he couldn’t really bring himself to do it. They should have given him a program about dolphins. I’d have watched it.
End of Diversion.
I don’t know how a cow could realistically pioneer a concept such as Cubism having, you know, hooves – although, thinking about it, Cubism seems more achievable than, say, Photorealism. But maybe Abstract Expressionism would be even better for them. I just mean an arts and crafts sort of cow. Just a nice cow. The sort of cow that might win a Pride of Britain award. A cow universally respected by its peers. A heifer who’s dandelion intolerant but dead brave about it.
What I want is for the cows – in this example – to decide among themselves who the arseholes are who are letting them down. And then I want them to tell me which ones are the shitheads, so I can eat them.
But then, if any of these arsehole cows really are arseholes, they’re not going to admit it and put themselves forward for slaughter, are they? You’d need some sort of self policing cattle voting system, or the whole thing would just degenerate into a farce. What if corrupt, arsehole cows infiltrated the system and sent decent, law-abiding cows to the kitchen? You know, you wouldn’t want the cow version of Amber Rudd or Jeremy hunt getting away with being arseholes and ganging up on the cow equivalent of, I don’t know, Elvis, would you?
I’ve heard it said that, “A good plan now is better than a brilliant plan tomorrow,” That’s my brilliant plan for tomorrow but, like I say, seeing as cans of tuna that I buy don’t say anything about whether the tuna therein were a set of wankers, I can’t do it, can I? They all say about being dolphin friendly, but some dolphins are right cunts, aren’t they? Obviously Euan MacPhail wouldn’t agree with me, but that’s him. Not all of them are dicks, ‘obviously’. What are you doing to save the decent dolphins? The Saint Francis of Assisses of the aquatic mammalian world. That’s right, nothing. You sit there and you stereotype them. Like women**.
So, what I have to do at the moment is my good plan for today, which goes like this: if an animal – not an individual member of a species – does something – anything – that entertains me or pleases me in some way then I won’t eat it.
As I’ve said, even though I wouldn’t be averse to eating a dog that was a nobhead, I won’t eat any dogs at all at the moment because, as a stereotype, they do things like eating their own crap and growling at empty cupboards, implying that they have some sort of mystical connection to the spirit world that they’d love to share with us if only their vocabulary stretched beyond the solitary word, ‘sausages’. When they’re not too busy licking their own cocks, of course.
I wouldn’t eat lamb because they do that kicking thing with both back legs; I wouldn’t eat a kangaroo because I enjoy their hopping, their pouches and their disembowelling hind leg moves. I wouldn’t eat a giraffe, because I like those deely-bopper antennae they have on their heads and their tongues move pleasingly. I wouldn’t eat a horse, because you might as well eat a cow as horses can run faster. Cows are nature’s safety horses. I wouldn’t eat most animals, really, and I don’t.
I don’t eat shellfish because if they lived on land we’d call them insects and I don’t want to eat insects either. I don’t like the way they move. They’re alright, I don’t wake up sweating about insects, but nor are they appetising.
Cows, chickens, pigs, on the other hand, I don’t give a fuck about. I’ve said, if they’d like to point out the twats in their number, I’d just eat those, if it wasn’t for the potential abuse of a democratic voting process by some right wing clucker.
They’ve only got themselves to blame, haven’t they? If they can’t be bothered to single out the troublemakers in their ranks… If they’re not interested in promoting any reliable and valid forms of democracy that could save the lives of decent, hardworking cows and get rid of the wankers… And people – like my vegan ex-girlfriend asked me – “How can you be so callous about a beautiful creature like a cow?” Well, if they’re not prepared to help themselves even a little bit, why should I fucking put myself out?
I wouldn’t eat a gerbil – or any other rodent. First, because of that standing on their hind legs thing while they hold something in their little hands and nibble it endearingly. Second, because it’s just not worth the hassle, is it? They’re too small. You might think that their shape might lend themselves to a kebab/skewer arrangement but that’s just typically stereotypical again, isn’t it? You get fat weasels you know. Honestly. You people.
The next natural step is, of course, people. Cannibalism. It’s a ‘terrible’ thing but, you see, it’s where my entire food philosophy emanates from.
During my Fresher’s week at university, we had to play The Lifeboat Game. Sometimes it’s a hot air balloon, but they’re no different really. There are a load of people in a hot air balloon – or a lifeboat – and you get told who these people are and what their jobs are. The lifeboat is sinking fast and you have to chuck someone out or you’ll all die. You get assigned to one of these roles and your group has to decide who you’d eat first. Or, if it isn’t that, it’s who you would chuck over the side first. My version’s more eco friendly, I think; what with mercury fillings and the sea and all that. And yes, if I was provided with independently ratified details of a number of tuna who were ‘loveable rogues’ who nonetheless wreak havoc on their estates, maybe I’d single them out and concentrate any initial form of devastating, orally expelled metallic pollution of the oceans – initially – on those bastards. The dickhead tuna who ruin it for everyone else.
When we played it at university, everyone kept saying things like, “Oh, we’ll need to keep the architect alive in case we need to build skyscrapers out of bananas on a desert island,” and, “Ooh, we’ll definitely need a lepidopterist if we get marooned on a tropical island because we won’t be able to tell the difference between moths and butterflies without them, will we?” Pfff. Yeah, right. Like lepidopterists can do that.
Anyway, my first question in the game was this: “I don’t care what job they do, I don’t care how old they are, I don’t care how useful they are, or even how tasty they’d be cooked with some bananas that we weren’t utilising as construction materials, with a moth/butterfly gravy. What I want to know is which one of them is the biggest arsehole,”
The person who was running it said, “No, Middlerabbit. We’re imagining that they’re all the same size. Nobody’s going to sink the boat because they’ve got a big backside.”
I said, “No, I don’t mean who, literally, has the biggest arsehole – that would be ridiculous. And anyway, I’m not even convinced that there’s a direct correlation between the size of a person’s buttocks and the size of their actual arsehole, is there? Even so, wouldn’t they float better as a result of their fat arse? Fat being less dense than muscle. What I mean is, who is, metaphorically, the biggest arsehole?”
I didn’t get a reasonable answer to that because, apparently, I was being “fatuous.”
I said, “That’s not the word for people who abuse the overweight and anyway, I’m not saying that,” It’s funny how people can wilfully misinterpret the obvious, isn’t it? Well you’d think.
Anyway, my point was, on a hypothetical lifeboat, I’d talk to everybody and my vote would be to eat the person who I thought was the biggest arsehole. And you know what they say, don’t you? They say, “You are what you eat.” Which would mean that some of us could eat arseholes from now until Kingdom come and they wouldn’t have changed a bit.
The arseholes I’m thinking of today are the arseholes who decided not to ban flammable cladding materials for use on blocks of flats following the deaths of 71 people last year in Grenfell Tower.
There’s another saying. “If you give a starving man a fish, he will eat for a day. Give him a fishing rod and he’ll feed his family for life.”
Yes. And if you put a decent, starving man with my philosophy of food in a sinking lifeboat with the Conservative party front bench, along with a cow who has a friendly disposition and a nice look on her face; well, let’s put it this way – he’s not going run out of milk at any point is he?
*N.b: not that sort of diet.
** N.b: satire.