Idle Eye 106 : The Meat of the Issue

I stopped eating meat in April 1991. I remember the exact moment pretty well, lying on the floor of my front room in Herne Hill and watching a rerun of the Animals Film as part of the Channel 4 ‘Banned’ series. I was half-cut, destroying a lamb phall directly from its foil container and in no condition to take in the gravity of what I was seeing, but take it in I did. Somehow, the message managed to penetrate the grotesque caricature of youth I had become and made me ask myself a few searching questions I couldn’t answer. Not then, and not when I had sobered up the next day and was paying the ultimate price for the 100k+ Scoville monstrosity I had ingested. And the thought that living creatures had been killed in order to make me feel that shit was truly appalling.

For me, it was about personal choice. That anyone else would give a flying one about what went into my sorry mouth never actually occurred to me, and for a brief moment the new diet of dry-roasted peanuts, Beanfeast pasta and Rioja seemed to have passed unnoticed. But then came Christmas, traditionally the flagship occasion when families unite, discuss politics and implausible career paths and revel in the ritual mastication of an ugly bird no-one gives a stuff about for the other 364 days of the year. I opted for a plate of green veg (the root ones being, as any fule kno, Satan’s little helpers) and a couple of potatoes, without gravy. And by doing so, I unleashed a Pandora’s Box of vitriol so strikingly at odds with the innocuous vegetables themselves, I felt duty-bound to pitch in and protect them. It was Twelve Angry Men vs the Chives with me as ’70’s TV lawyer Petrocelli, backing the voiceless oppressed against all odds. And they flayed me alive.

Perhaps it was the notion of underdog I found so appealing rather than the ethics themselves (a much less challenging justification to digest for those who had taken so violently against my new-found stance). But it wasn’t. The simple truth was that I could no longer turn my head away from such unnecessary suffering when there were/are so many alternatives. My decision, not exactly of seismic significance. And despite the odd hole in the argument (I own some leather shoes and have, on occasion, enjoyed a wine gum), I’ve stuck to it ever since.

Last year, Carol Midgley wrote an excellent piece in the Times stating her reasons for giving up meat and was bombarded with snide remarks in the comments section which were completely beyond me. If she’d said she was giving up catching the train to work and had started cycling instead, would an army of indignant commuters have taken to their keyboards to vent their spleen? I don’t think so. Carnivores, you have nothing to fear. Now, get on with your day and leave us alone.

Idle Eye 5 : The Party

I must say, I’m enjoying this hack business enormously. Seems you just bang out a few well-chosen words when you’re pissed, turn up at an Idle Hour party and everyone smiles at you in that ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of way. Splendid! And while we’re at it, I thought it would be wise to jot down a few muddled thoughts from Nibs’ anniversary bash at IH Barnes because a) it was a fabulous, bonkers evening, and b) I’m being paid for it. So here goes :

10 years in any old game is quite something. It demonstrates that you have stamina, balls and a willful refusal to fail. These are qualities I have long admired in girlfriends, employees and whiskey, the obvious exception being that I have never employed a single person in all of my years on the planet. And that’s as it should be, as any fule kno. But when it turns out that Squitly Junior, who used to nick sweets from the Shackleford shop and (very much later) roger his nanny while his elder sibling was getting off on Starsky & Hutch downstairs is the one who fits the bill, I have to concede that despite my obviously superior looks and intellect, a tip of the hat is due here. So, well played bro, here’s to another ten..

It probably is also timely to introduce whatever readership we have here to Da Mudda. Back in the 1960s, Nibs and myself decided to give birth to someone who would eventually become our mother, half woman, half Nazi, never, ever wrong. And out of respect we let her raise us, send us to expensive schools and attend functions, bar mitzvahs, parties etc.. So it was indeed a pleasure to see her there in the crowd on saturday, listening with pride as her god-given parents murdered ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him’ and ‘Oliver’s Army’ as backing to the ever-forgiving Roland Rock and his band. We have a photograph of her weeping, although it is not yet clear whether this is out of despair or joy. Time will tell.

A small but grateful word to the bar staff : Being a vegetarian, lily-livered, ex-art school renegade comes with its’ set of not unsubstantial hurdles when it comes to nibbles. (You know when you have reached your middle years when you can say ‘nibbles’ without a hint of embarrassment. Although I have long since reached them & my ears have just turned red. No-one tells you this stuff.) My undying thanks goes out to the young lady who left me with a plate of crudités as the carnivores sought their quarry.

For anyone who was there, it was lovely to meet you and thank you for, well, for being you. Who’d have thought we’d hit it off so well, eh? Let’s hope this crazy old vehicle stays on the road for a few more. And mine’s a large one, if you’re offering..