Pleased to eat you

We have a lot of indoor markets here. It’s kind of a thing in these parts. Amazing places. Looking for something? Go to an indoor market. If you can’t find it, you probably didn’t need it. They have everything. One stall that I never, ever shop at (you’ll see why) has this brilliant slogan – ‘We’re pleased to meet you and we’ve meat to please you.’ Clever. I don’t eat meat, but dang, I can appreciate a good play on words.

To each, their own. Live and let live. That’s my motto. It kind of has to be, really. Just let me get on with my life, and I’ll return the favour (for some reason, the predictive text suggested ‘book’ rather than ‘favour’). As I’ve said before, I have multiple allergies to animal-based products, so I’m vegan by default. Although, I have gradually made it a principle thing too. At least that way, I can pretend I had a choice.

I don’t even bother explaining anymore. The few people in the past I’ve tried to explain it to think I’m just being awkward. The number of comebacks I’ve had… look, you can give me all the anti-plant-based rhetoric you like, chum, it’s not relevant to me! Why do people want me to eat something that’s going to make me ill? And why do you think the legends all bang on about vampires not eating? Here’s a couple of the top irrelevant statements…

“Animals in the wild eat meat!”

Well, when was the last time you saw a lion picking up its weekly shopping in Tesco/Walmart/Aldi? I tell you what, they’d be absolute nightmares at the till. A coupon for everything and guaranteed they’ll want an assistant to pack for them. Plus they can’t park for toffee. They always end up taking up two spaces with their customised jeeps.

“Where do you get your protein from?”

Try asking a gorilla that question. Go on, I dare you. I double dare you. Just be grateful that I tend to avoid blood which, ironically, is the one thing my tummy is happy with. Well, human blood, at least. I can’t remember, to be honest. It’s been so long. Surprised? Shocked? Hello..! Vampire… Nah, we’ve covered this before.

”But it’s what our ancestors used to eat!”

Tricky. And do you know why? Because it kept running away from them. Now I don’t know about you, but if I’m about to have lunch, and my food runs out the door, I’m guessing that stuff ain’t cooked properly. I’m letting the sucker run.
I prefer food that doesn’t have the ability to run away from me. Take a potato, for instance. And when I say take, of course I mean ‘get your own’. You come anywhere near me with the intention of nicking my chips/roast potatoes/mash, I will stick a fork in your hand.

And sometimes, it didn’t run away. Sometimes, you would have been the one running.

Anyway, the potato.

So versatile. So tasty. And they just wait there for you to come to them. In the soil. All nice and cosy. Flash a little bit of skin in the autumn. ‘Ooh, give me a bit more soil, you bad bunny.’ Let’s face it, the potato is a multitasker par excellence. It’s given us mash, chips, crisps, hasselbacks,  those twisty fried things (apparently they’re called Tornado Potatoes? Makes sense), even vodka. It makes the other veg look like total slackers. It doesn’t even brag, does it? It’s always referred to as the ‘humble potato’.

Have you ever actually come across a conceited vegetable though? I’ve often thought asparagus had ideas above its station, but then I realised that’s just a defence mechanism. Rocket/Arugula is another misunderstood plant. I mean, imagine being named after a starship or the sound a klaxon makes in an emergency.

But, our ancestors…

It can’t have been much fun, knowing your food had the capacity to chase you. I mean, certainly nowadays, food choices can kill you but in this case it was literal. ‘I’ll rip off your head and poop down your neck’ – said no veggie burger ever. Okay, so I imagine the animals that our ancestors hunted never said it either, given that they didn’t have the power of human speech. And the fact that they were too busy dealing with indigestion while also trying to find the loo roll.

These days, of course, too much of the wrong food will still kill you. But it’s gotten sneaky. Rather than going with the whole head-biting thing, it’ll do it from the inside. ‘You just wait. I’m gonna fur up your arteries. I’m gonna fix your gut so you can’t be trusted in a crowded lift.’

Seriously, though, I’m plant-based.  Because I am one of those people who can’t be trusted in a crowded lift. I’ll only eat stuff that grows in the ground. Let’s face it, we’re all going back there someday, so I’m getting to grips with my potential neighbours now. Good thing is though, potatoes, carrots etc aren’t known for their revenge tactics.

Hollywood has never made a film called ‘The Usual Saucepans’, or ‘Kill Dill’.

You get what I’m saying.

You keep using that word

Consequences.

Happy New Year! Yes, I know I said that last time, and I’m saying it again – for a very good reason. All will become clear. We all blether on from time to time about consequences, usually those of staying out too late, or watching just one more episode on that DVD, or the one more doughnut that-surely-wouldn’t-hurt. But in this regard we’d probably be better off using a more appropriate word: regret. The actual word ‘consequence’ has been superseded by another, more explosive word – fallout.

It doesn’t matter what the word or action is, there will always be consequences; there will always be fallout. Of course, things like social media have amplified this up to the nth degree. Essentially though, putting your foot in it, or saying / doing something stupid / dangerous / ill advised ‘for a laugh’ or because you’re cheesed off with someone / something is a concept as old as feet or mouths.

Example 1: A number of years ago I was out with a friend, her husband and her small son. We were in a small market town in the south of England, which had a real butchers shop. As it was the boy’s birthday that weekend, my friend and her husband asked me to take the little boy into the butchers shop to buy some sausages while they went to buy him a birthday present. All very secret, hush-hush.

So into the shop I dutifully went with this three-year-old child hanging on my hand. The shop was crowded; there were shelves and packages everywhere. It was unusual in that it had two of those big glass display counters. In one unit was the standard array: mince, chops, chicken legs et cetera. In the other was a side of beef. And I mean an entire side of beef. It spread along the whole counter. Being at his eye level, the little boy (let’s call him Bob) was immediately drawn to the scene of carnage.

“What that?”  asked young Bob.

“Beef.” I said.

He repeated his question. I repeated my answer. He tried the question again, slightly more forcefully this time. I thought I couldn’t really unleash the truth on such a small child. However his insistence left me with no option.

“What that?” came the question again.

“It’s half a dead cow. Okay?”

At that point, I had to take him hurriedly out of the shop as he burst into tears rather loudly. I did not tell his parents exactly what had happened: only that he had gotten a little fractious in the shop. The consequences only made themselves apparent a few years later.

Fast forward four years and one sibling later. I was at the christening of their second child. Bob was now seven years old. The proud parents gave a speech about welcoming the new baby to the family. In particular, they were singing the praises of young Bob, who apparently was the ideal older brother. He was a young man of honour and conviction. For example, out of the blue, at the age of three, he had decided to become a vegetarian, and still was one…

I shrunk down in my seat and said nothing…

I have my own scary butchers shop story, which left me with Spectrophobia – you’ll hear about that next time.

Example 2 – and this is where I was leading with my initial salutation. ‘Calan Hen’ is a Welsh tradition that is celebrated on the 6th January. It’s when the Christmas decorations come down, and you have to stop telling people ‘Happy New Year’, because the New Year just ain’t that new any more.

That’s what my mother told us.

Deciding to read up on this nationwide tradition, I uncovered something quite alarming.

None of it is true.

Calan Hen is indeed a celebration of the old New Year, just not what we were all brought up with. It started back in 1752 when the British dumped the old Julian calendar in favour of the new and shiny Gregorian calendar. Consequence? 11 days got lost. The previous New Year’s Day fell on what was now January 12.

But, undaunted, January 12th continued to be celebrated (two for the price of one, if you like), with children going from house to house with apples skewered with sprigs of holly, wishing the householders Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (I’ll leave you to work that one out!!) and collecting calenning (a few coins) as a reward for their good wishes. Oh, and of course there was the football match between one village and the next, with the churches of each serving as goalposts. I think they still do it, although in these days of Health & Safety, less people end up dead or maimed.

And there was something else, too. It wasn’t a nationwide celebration at all. It is a celebration that is exclusive to my home village. Which explains a lot of weird looks I got years later from fellow Welshies that I met.

So, be careful what you say or do – it might just come back and bite you on the bum…

Talking of bums and consequences: on a lighter note, I had one thing happen to me today that (I think) had a positive consequence, if rather painful. I had gone to the market to stock up on all the ingredients I need for my A+ juice and as usual overdid it a bit. So, as I bent over to put things into my rucksack, someone whacked me sharply on the backside. Standing up, I was expecting to see one of my friends. Imagine my surprise to see a completely unknown and random female grinning at me.

“You’re a cute little minx,” she said, “you do know that, don’t you?”

Consequence? I’m gonna have a bruise tomorrow, but it still made my day!!

Genetics Schmenetics!

Before I start my tangent-ridden ramble, I thought I better put your mind at rest.  There’s that one question, isn’t there? The one you want to ask. The fangéd elephant in the room…

Can someone be turned into a vampire?

Actually, the real question is, if we were to meet, would I bite you? You just didn’t want to upset me by being that direct..? Well, we’re back to genetics again. It’s like anything, I suppose. It can live dormant in your cells and you may never ever know you are a carrier. Until of course, the right bite comes along. I guess in that respect, it’s a bit like a cold sore. A cold sore with benefits.

And, while we are at it, let’s get a few more stereotypes binned. No, I do not waft around brooding mysteriously. I am not lovesick for some mortal. In fact I am happily married, thank you very much.

I do not drink blood. I mean, imagine that: every meal, every day – yuck? Dull. In fact I can’t even eat red meats, or any meat -or any milk, even. I used to when I was a child, but then it started getting weird. I went from liking steak as a burnt offering (which was just as well, as my mum used to use the smoke alarm as a timer to tell her when dinner was done), to gradually preferring medium steak and then getting progressively rarer, until one day I found myself eating it raw. And craving it. That’s when I realised I had a problem and I stopped. It was making me ill.

No surf and turf for this baby.

So… no brooding, no blood, no real sparkling, no spontaneous combustion, no wafting around in gloriously Gothic garments while listening to Lacuna Coil. Okay… perhaps I’ll admit to that last one. But then, I am equally likely to be found listening to Imagine Dragons or AC/DC. I’m eclectic.

Oh, and of course, I don’t rip anybody’s throat out. But that doesn’t mean I’m not tempted to, on occasion. Let’s face it, who isn’t?!  That temptation is not unique to vampires! Generally, if anyone gets annoyed with me, I like to say ‘why don’t you bite my head off? It will make jumping down my throat so much easier.’

Garlic. Love it. It’s just the papery stuff on the outside that I can’t stand. Smells all dusty and shroudy plus it hurts like a bad ‘un if you get it stuck under your nails when you’re cleaning it. And I prefer to keep my nails short. I can’t stand long nails. Oh, we’re back to the talons again. But these beautiful girls you see with those long nails (Banksy should hire those nails out by the yard)…. How do they live? How do they wipe their bums? I guess they can toast marshmallows well. Unless of course that shellac stuff is flammable…

People’s views of my eating habits are wide and varied. My carnivore friends think I’m a vegetarian. My vegetarian friends think I am a vegan. My vegan friends think I am a raw vegan. I have never asked my raw vegan friends what they think I eat. I’m running out of links on the food chain.

I remember, one day, my mum catching me down in the cellar, licking my broken umbrella. It tasted deliciously metallic. The same day she had decided I was old enough to have my first cup of tea. That was a thing in my family. It was some kind of right-of-passage thing. Anyway. I was presented with this steamy cup of milky oblivion (milk? Really, Mother!) and was expected to drink it on front of this baited-breathed audience. The Roman Coliseum had nothing on this.

So I took a mouthful. Hmph. Not impressed. It had a metallic tang, but nothing as satisfying as my umbrella handle.

And that’s when I said it.

“I’d rather drink blood. “

Needless to say, I was never made to drink the stuff again. And my little TMI moment was never mentioned again. It was a relief, to be honest. At least they never sat me down as a self-conscious teen and gave me the “Have you tried not being a vampire?” routine.

I know my parents did blame themselves when they finally realised I wasn’t like my brothers and sisters. Still, I guess they have their own demons to deal with. Mine just happens to be me – if you listen to all the occult ‘experts’ and people who’ve watched way too many movies on Netflix.

But luckily for me, no one has staked me through the heart. Although you’d be surprised at just how many things that will kill. And no, I’m not counting that unfortunate time when I went to the Ideal Home Exhibition and got a cocktail stick stuck in my foot while wondering through the aperitifs bar. That was painful and, far worse: it was downright embarrassing. Imagine being slain by Buffet the Vampire Slayer… Oh! The shame! I still can’t look at mini sausages without wincing.

I didn’t answer your question, did I? The one about biting you?  Oh well…

 


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