Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Vegetable Matters.

 " Meat, meat, meat, that's all we get these days.." Never was a truer word spoken in light of the unfortunate death of the vegetable; spoken as it was - with unerring predictability -  by one Albert Gizzard.
Gizzard eyed the tableau set upon the table with resigned hostility and pined for the day when  his meals were accompanied with a humble carrot or  perhaps a parsimonious parsnip or perhaps even a great dollop of mashed potato parked on his plate like a dollop of angel shit. Instead he had before him what looked like liver; the mass of monotone matter taunting him in it's ubiquity. Who'd have thought that life could become so dull post legume, he missed the delicate interplay of colours that the vegetable brought to the plate: the warm orange of the carrot set against the sporting green of the Brussels sprout had profound and beautiful resonances for him now. His reverie continued and he began to become nostalgic for the interesting contrast between shapes and texture; the gnarly phallus of the parsnip juxtaposed with the less endowed runner bean.
 The death of the vegetable had happened so suddenly and with out warning; signs and notices had appeared at local retailers and supermarkets across the land warning of a shortage of this or that, in fact  the first casualty had been the utilitarian potato. Government scientists had been brought in to investigate and with much umming and erring and grave sound bites they concluded that the potato, that staple, that national institution had been ravaged by some unknown blight - the symptoms of which were a rapid discoloration a wilting of leaves and an ignoble death.
Of course the logistical implications of this were huge: the diaspora of migrant eastern Europeans were laid off and so as well as being jobless had nothing to eat; chip shops became chop shops and the vegetarian lobby began crying - well, they began crying. Dark forces were suspected: alien bacteria, the impact of GM methods and practices, global warming, there was even a theory perpetrated by an obscure far right group who called themselves Das Boot, that it was a militant Muslim conspiracy, their dark scheme rendering the collective West constipated and in turn prone to  horrible cancers of the colon and anus. The Prime Minister  had assured his bloated public that this was "unlikely.."
After the potato, the blight was rapid and merciless in it's scope and the whole vegetable genus was eradicated. R.I.P.
As Gizzard sat upon his much put upon toilet bog, straining and groaning and pushing - his temples straining with the exertion, a thin bead of sweat probing his arse cheeks - he began wistfully recalling the happy times he'd spent on his allotment, tending his tomatoes, hoeing the earth in preparation for a fresh consignment of radish or leek, the wind in his face, muck caked to his wellies and callouses - oh the callouses.
After half an hour of his futile labors he dejectedly rose from the pan glancing down at his non-discharge. He pulled the chain, more out of habit, for the toilet was as empty as their vegetable rack.
He clumped back down stairs where his wife, Mable, was busy concocting some hell brew to induce a peristaltic movement, a potion that would dislodge his own and indeed her own internal Stone Henge.
"It's no use love, we've tried everything, we need roughage and shit loads of it.." Whimpered Mable, her face a sickly yellow color. "I know love, if we don't..well that's it - we'll go the way of, of my bloody allotment. Reg were saying that his Gladys had been cooking their meat in  WD40 , don't know what that will do though, probably helps the lubrication." Gizzard gazed out of the window and thought he saw a potato man sitting on the garden bench reading a copy of The Times'
His wife came over and sat down beside him and clasped his hand and they both looked at the potato man. Maybe they could just wait, wait for the rapid discoloration, the wilting of the leaves and the ignoble death, yes that would be best.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

"I smell the Gibbon!"

   Many years ago when I was a  young lad, school was an endless hokey kokey of jocularity, of misadventures and a seemingly endless opportunity for mirth  and pre- pubescent ideas of anarchy and rebellion. Hardly a week went by when I wasn't standing outside the headmasters hallowed door awaiting retribution and six brisk flicks of his cane. Ah the cane, an almost mythical object, rarely seen and only brought out in the most dire of circumstances - his Excalibur you might say. Scotty as we used to refer to him, kept his cane discretely stashed away behind a sort of trophy cabinet that housed one or two "cups" that looked like Roman relics with the addition of a few mummified flys; such was my schools sporting achievements.
My main fear in these times was that old Scotty would leave us waiting too long, indeed this would have been a more apt punishment: to stand, waiting, waiting..With no end in sight, for eternity - well for at least fifteen minutes. Soon when a more liberal feeling pervaded the staff room, public humiliation was the weapon of choice. Bloody liberals.
While we waited we'd coach each other in the protocol of the condemned; the do's and don't's, the why's and why not's, the ayes to the left and the no's to the right which basically consisted of not laughing or farting - the latter was an absolute. It was absolutely absolute, it was as inviolable as burning the school down, smoking or cheating on cross country - however the latter two were often combined. " Whatever you do don't laugh or fart.." Ha ha, to be young again, to be without fear, without responsibility, the certainty that we're going to live forever, that my body won't tire or break down, that I won't become an alcoholic or a Big Issue seller,or live under a holly bush and so on and so forth..
We're ushered into his inner sanctum; it's just as I remember : the fly cabinet  is still defamed by the sporting bibelot; there's a smell of stale cigarettes, the window overlooks the sport field where under- enthused kids in games kit run hither and thon, catching things, kicking things or throwing things - or perhaps they're all retarded.
He lines us up before the desk, pauses for long moments, the clock ticks. I can feel that I'm going to lose it, I'm going to burst like a loon, a mad boy and fall on the floor and become the first boy to ever die of laughter in Scotty's office. They'll place a little blue  plaque reverentially on the spot where I die and all the future miscreants who step over Scotty's threshold  will stand solemnly and respectively...and then piss themselves with laughter!
But no, I have it under control - I'll just concentrate on icebergs or deep space. Just look straight ahead and concentrate. But the bastard is taking so long, he hasn't even opened his mouth. I think he's daring us to laugh, to succumb to the pressure, he's enjoying this. The moments pass like centuries.
And then the bastard goes and says: " I smell the gibbon!"