View from the Bridge: 32

by John Morrison


32: Blame Someone Else

The government has acted quickly in response to our worries about British beef. Instead of a mild concern we now have nationwide panic. So it's goodbye to beef 'on the bone' and hello to yet more over-priced, pre-packaged crap whose most wholesome ingredient is the sawdust sweepings from the abbatoir floor.

(A Doctor writes... "Lions are carnivores. While they may occasionally pick at a salad, what they really enjoy is raw meat. Cows, on the other hand, are herbivores, and their food of choice is grass. Not each other. Thank you".)

There is a quiz tonight at the Grievous Bodily Arms. The prize for the winning team is traditionally a navvy's breakfast. A heart-stopping plateful of sausage, bacon, liver, kidney, black pudding, spleen and spinal cord. There's not much call around here for tiny portions arranged seductively on hexagonal plates, with a sprig of parsley on the top. What's needed is some solid chloresterol that sends a man off to work with a lead-weight in his stomach and a giddy feeling in his head.

The pub's landlord is not a squeamish man. He only has his meat cooked because that's the best way to make sure it stays on the plate. He has a rabbit's foot hanging behind his bar. It's a lucky charm, though it wasn't so lucky for the rabbit, of course. It serves as a reminder that his views on animal welfare are delightfully uncomplicated. Hunting? "Foxes love it". Dogs? "Just for Christmas". Testing cosmetics on animals? "Jab the needle into that bunny's eye".

His thoughts on dietary requirements echo those of his pitbull terrier, that a proper meal needs plenty of red meat. True nose-to-tail eating: a man's meal. There shouldn't be much room on the plate for anything else. Vegetables aren't food, he insists. Vegetables are what food eats. When a hungry dog ventures into a shop, his reasoning goes, what is it likely to take? A string of sausages or an iceberg lettuce?

Well, it's his opinion, and not worth a bucket of warm spit, but he's happy to reprise it to anyone foolish enough to stand at the bar and feign even the slightest interest. But, in truth, this beef thing has got him rattled. After all, the quiz night regulars look forward to competing for a coronary-inducing trencher of red meat. As he wipes a rancid cloth across the bar-top the landlord wonders what he can offer tonight as an alternative prize.

The regulars at the Grievous Bodily Arms are an obstinate bunch, with unsophisticated tastes. Personal grooming is largely a matter of splashing raw alcohol into open shaving cuts, for the fashionable 'just out of prison' look. If they want exercise they'll hide the TV channel changer. Their idea of outdoor recreation is looting body parts from unconsecrated graves. Sex is for girls, they scoff dismissively. Anyway, they wouldn't know where to find a woman's G-spot; most of them would even have trouble finding their own. In short, these aren't the type of people who will settle happily for a platter of low-fat turkey-style steaklets.

The evening news bulletin comes to the landlord's aid with a flash of inspiration. He grabs a piece of chalk and, with a sigh of relief, writes on the blackboard. 'Tonight's Quiz: the winners will enjoy two weeks on the Russian Space Station MIR'.

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