Et tu, Hugh?

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall thinks it’s time we all went veggie (River Cottage Veg; Channel 4, Sunday).

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall thinks it’s time we all went veggie (River Cottage Veg; Channel 4, Sunday). Coming from a man whose favourite dish is human placenta marinaded in fruit-bat extract, who slaughters his own pigs with a pocket knife and dances naked in their gore as he turns them into 2,058 varieties of artisanal black pudding, and who recently confessed he wouldn’t mind eating the odd puppy if push came to shove, I suppose this is something we should take quite seriously.

Personally, I feel betrayed. As betrayed as I felt all those years ago when my most heavy-duty smoking friend Ewen gave up fags, which was so unfair because I’d been relying on him to die of lung cancer, not me. ‘Et tu, Hugh?’ it made me think. Because I like my meat, an awful lot. Not only does it taste good but it’s also the thing that has made us great. If it hadn’t been for meat, we would probably never have discovered fire. And it was that fire/meat combo which gave us the brainpower to become the dominant species we are today. Otherwise just imagine what might have happened: maybe we’d now be governed by sheep or lemmings or other similarly brain-dead herbivores. Imagine!

Anyway, Hugh’s vegetarian adventure started off quite poorly, I thought. He has many fine qualities, does Hugh, but his tendency to pontificate in that mannered, up-and-down trademark TV voice of his is not one of them. Pontification is not in and of itself a bad thing: I do it all the time. But for it not to be off-putting, there needs to be at least a hint of a suspicion that the pontificator is slyly, engagingly aware of his own fallibility and absurdity. Success has killed that in Hugh, as of course it does in everyone.

Consider the bacon sandwich stunt. Hugh bids his farewell to meat — his carnevale — by frying some of his best home-cured bacon and putting it between two slabs of fantastic-looking sourdough bread, slathered with Riverside Cottage (TM) organic über-butter, hand-churned at dawn by nubile Dorset maidens with accents just like the sexy rabbit in the Cadbury’s Caramel ad.

You think he’s going to eat it. But then he changes his mind and gives it to his gardeners instead. If he’s going to go veggie, he should do so in a positive frame of mind rather than dwelling miserably on what he’s about to lose, he declares. But though I can see that trope working, just about, in print, on film it looked stagey, portentous and a bit pompous. . . .

 

(to read more, click here)

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2 thoughts on “Et tu, Hugh?”

  1. Velocity says:29th October 2011 at 10:52 amWhy doesn’t Hugh just eat himself?Seems like the only ‘humane’ thing to do… afterall how many plants is he going to murder and torture to keep himself alive?Do it Hugh, top yourself mate, do us all a friggin favour and push up the daisies you bleeting retard
  2. NC says:31st October 2011 at 1:47 pmThe veggie idea scientifically is that it’s more efficient to eat vegetables than to feed them to animals to make protein. However, that’s a terribly flawed argument. I first got into trouble with science dogmas when trying to make sense of the calorie measurement of food. The theory is too simple: you dry and burn food in a special metal can called a calorimeter, and measure the temperature rise. Every 1 degree C temperature rise in a gram of water indicates the release of of 1 calorie of energy. Hence, you measure the calorie output from the temperature rise when burning food. Foolproof?No so. When you eat vegetables, you don’t convert it into energy it with the efficiency of a fire. Obviously the fibre which passes through the gut isn’t broken down. Cows can’t directly break down grass, they use bacteria in the rumen to do so for them. It’s not just indigestible cellulose fibres that’s wasted when we eat veg. Suppose you eat “high protein” beans. A lot of it is still bound to the fibre and only gets broken down in the gut, releasing methane gas (CH_4).So all Hugh is suggesting is a massive greenhouse gas emission by turning everyone veggie. It’s highly efficient if you fiddle your accountancy and pretend that eating vegetables is good for you. Sure, some fibre helps give avoid getting bunged up, but only because it passes through the gut undigested, keeping things moving. Sure, you get vitamin C and minerals from fresh veg and fruit, especially if they’re dirty (you can get loads more minerals by eating soil). But you don’t need to eat veg, a few fruit each day gives you what you need. It makes more sense to eat concentrated protein in the form of fish and meat, and leave the lower forms of life to eat vegetables. Hugh should start trying to convert animal carnivores into vegetarians as a clinical trial, before moving on to humans. If he succeeds in getting polar bears to survive on lettuce, I’ll admit I’m wrong and give up meat.

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When the world ends, will I know how to cook our cat?

‘Oh God, you realise if it gets really bad we might have to end up eating that,’ I said, meaning our fat cat Runty.

The Fawn started making upset noises. She’s very fond of Runty. My problem wouldn’t be so much the sentimental aspect as the practical one. Just how do you go about skinning and cooking a cat, when the power’s most likely to be gone and you’re long since out of barbecue charcoal? Which bits are safe to eat? Does it taste like chicken?

‘Don’t be ridiculous. It’s never going to get that bad,’ she said.

‘How do you know?’ I said.

‘Well London would need to be under siege for that to happen.’

‘Not necessarily. They ate cat in France during the War. Lapin sans tête.’

‘There’s not going to be a war.’

‘How do you know?’ I said.

I expect that all over Britain there are couples having similar conversations. All over the world, in fact, because it’s not as though they’re any better off in the US or Greece or even China. Armageddon is coming and it’s no longer a question of ‘What if?’ but ‘Just how bad will it be?’ and ‘Exactly what form of particular vileness will it take?’

Not, I would concede, that this is the majority view at the moment. Or at least the acknowledged majority view. I rang my uncle the other day. I said: ‘Do you realise how stuffed we are and have you made plans?’

He said: ‘Oh, I can’t be bothered with all that.

If it happens it happens.’ Our lawyer friends down the road take a similar line. But then they belong to that class which has grown so rich off the fat of the state that they’ve long been cushioned from economic reality.

Mark Steyn has the number of this parasite class in his brilliant and magnificently depressing new book, After America. He deconstructs a letter quoted by President Obama in his first State of the Union address, from a schoolgirl named Ty’Sheoma Bethea.

‘We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world, ‘ it said, in between begging for more federal aid for her run-down school.

Why, Steyn wonders, should such a missive should be cited as any kind of model?

For one thing, instead of trying to change the world, shouldn’t this girl trying to concentrate on more practical, realisable issues like trying to improve her crummy school and rundown town? (As P.

J. O’Rourke once put it: ‘Everybody wants to save the earth. Nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.’) And for another, what’s with this lawyer/ doctor/congressman stuff? ‘Is there no one in Miss Bethea’s school who’d like to be an entrepreneur, an inventor, a salesman, a generator of wealth? Someone’s got to make the dough the government’s already spent.’

This is a problem, perhaps the great problem of our times: the increasing gulf between those who actually create value and those who merely leech off their backs.

What makes it so intractable is that so few in our heavily socialised post-war entitlement culture are even aware that it’s a problem. We’re beginning dimly to become aware of at least some of the unwelcome passengers our economy is carrying: the union officials we pay £68 ­million to devise new ways to charge us more for public services; all those people off work with ‘back trouble’ splurging their welfare on green fees and gym club membership; local councillors and their expenses. But these are just the tip of the iceberg.

The figures quoted by Steyn from the US are terrifying enough: in 2009, the average civilian employee of the United States government earned $81,258 in salary, plus $41,791 in benefits. Total: $123,049. The average American employed in the private sector earned $50,462 in salary plus $10,589 in benefits. Total: $61,051. So you can imagine how things worse are in Europe, where the size of the economy taken up by the state is a good 10 per cent higher.

Is this sustainable? Well it might be in its more commonly used Marxist redistributionist sense of the word, as in ‘sustainable development’. But in its original sense, no it’s not. Obviously it’s not. You can’t have an ever larger unproductive sector of an economy crippling the productive sector. Not even if that unproductive sector are really nice people like my lovely lawyer friends down the road who work in ‘compliance’ and are only trying to ensure that the myriad wondrous new rules protecting ourselves from doing anything we might want to do are laboriously policed and expensively billed.

Steyn again: ‘By 2005, the costs of federal regulatory compliance alone (that is, not including state or local red tape) were up to $1.13 trillion — or approaching 10 per cent of GDP. In much of America, it takes far more paperwork to start a business than to go on welfare.’

There’s going to be a reckoning. It’ll be ugly. Perhaps in a future column, I might find time to fantasise on what possible happy outcomes might emerge. Not in this one, though. In this, I can offer nothing but despair.

Working out how to skin a cat, it seems to me, is going to be the least of our worries. In Britain, I foresee power shortages caused by our suicidal drive for ‘renewable energy’; I see further riots — made worse by pusillanimous policing — followed by a still nastier, compensatory backlash of fascistic martial law; I see punitive tax rates as the government — still in a state of denial — tries to shore up its discredited model; I see an economy heading towards Soviet levels of stagnation and waste. And until then, I foresee an awful lot of arguments with the Fawn.

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2 thoughts on “When the world ends, will I know how to cook our cat?”

  1. julied says:14th October 2011 at 12:09 pmI would have thought skinning a cat is much like skinning a rabbit.
  2. Shevva October 13th, 2011 9:57am Once the cat’s run out do we move onto dog’s then horse’s and finally civil servant’s or can we just jump to the main course?
  3. john east October 13th, 2011 4:21pm I must be a very weird person. I remember, as long ago as the 1960’s when in my teens, seeing some of my friends living romantic, bohemian lives as hippies and drop outs, and desparately envying their free sex and happy lifestyles. However, I knew then that they were no better than parasites, and that their lives were unsustainable so I kept my head down continued studying for my engineering degree.

Then in the 70’s and 80’s I was puzzled by how my neighbours could continue living large on credit, new cars, expensive holidays etc., and thinking that if there was such a thing as natural justice, then there must surely come a day of reconning for them.

Well, now in my 60’s that day is here.

Perhaps I should be gloating that being debt free and with plenty of savings and other hard assets my efforts have finally paid off, but I suspect when armaggedon finally unfolds my chances of emerging unscathed are not much better than anyone elses.

So I’ll settle for just being a little smug instead.

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How to Behave

‘I don’t suppose the war will leave any of us alone by the time it’s done,’ prophesied one of the characters in the new series of Downton Abbey. Oh, dear, I’m sure she’s right. So I wonder which will be the character who comes back with shellshock, which one with no legs, and which one a hero.

For the last, I’m guessing Matthew Crawley, the worthy but slightly dull heir to the worthy but slightly dull Earldom of Grantham. That would be nice: then, after many travails and obstacles, cold, aloof (but really quite hot) Lady Mary will get to realise in the final episode that, yes, of course, he was the man for her all along. At the big wedding the redoubtable Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) will say something very funny and acerbic. And everyone will laugh through their tears of joy and say how Sunday nights just won’t be the same without Downton.

In an alternative, bolder universe, it’s possible they’re showing a Downton which works out differently. Perhaps Crawley gets his penis shot off at Passchendaele, creating serious issues over the inheritance, till the handsome Irish chauffeur offers to stand in for his Lordship on the wedding night, causing serious ructions with Lady Sybil shortly before her hideous and moving death from a fever contracted from one of her patients. But not in this universe, I don’t think. And you can’t really blame Julian Fellowes for this. Comfort and predictability is what people want from their Sunday evening dramas.

Comfort and predictability is what they’re going to get — as you could tell from, say, the Somme scene where the stretcher-bearer is standing taking a breather and talking about how, if there’s a bullet with your name on it, there’s nothing you can do. ‘Oh, dear,’ you think. ‘Any second now he’s going to get shot in the —’ And bang, he’s just been shot through the head.

That particular black joke (repeated countless times in real combat, I’m sure) was done rather better by Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan where a GI removes his helmet to stare in amazement and gratitude at the hole made by the bullet which should have killed him but didn’t. Then gets shot dead by a more successful one.

He has got a lot to answer for, Steven Spielberg — raising the bar for on-screen combat scenes so high that almost everything thereafter (unless it’s one of his own series: Band of Brothers or Pacific) looks pallid and unconvincing. This was certainly the case with the war scenes in Downton. It just looks like a film set with actors scurrying around with mud on their face. There was never any real sense that this was hell on earth. It felt more like a slightly more eventful extension of Downton Abbey: ‘Mister Crawley will be taking tea in the Brown Explosion Room.’ ‘Very good, Carson.’

OK, so Spielberg had lots of money to spend.

(to read more, click here)

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Meet Finland’s Answer to Vaclav Klaus

‘Finland, Finland, Finland — the country where I want to be. Po-ny trek-king or camp-ing. Or simply watching TV.’ But Monty Python got it wrong. Finland is more than just a cold, comedic nowheresville near to Russia. Not only is it the land of Nokia, bear pâté, the Moomintroll, and one of the few countries in the eurozone still doing business (one of only seven with an AAA credit rating) — but it may also save the world from the approaching euro armageddon.

For this last, we must thank an implausible hero named Timo Soini: implacable Eurosceptic, leader of Finland’s fastest-growing political party (the True Finns) and a diehard fan of Millwall Football Club. We meet in Eastbourne, shortly after he has given a rapturously received address to the Ukip conference.

Here are some of the lines that so delighted the punters.

‘You are so lucky to have the pound. You are so lucky — keep the pound!’

On the illegality of the bailouts.

‘This crisis has turned us into criminals. Who will respect politicians anymore after this? Who will trust the law if the law is not obeyed by us? We should be governed by the rule of law and by the members of the parliaments who we have ourselves chosen.’

‘These bailouts are immoral. We are pouring our money to the bad guys: to the governments that cheated us and to the bankers that made huge profits by taking reckless risks… It’s outrageous. I say, it’s outrageous!’

Yes, of course this is the sort of thing his mate Nigel Farage does very well too. But there are several key advantages Farage is lacking. He’s not built like a 1,500lb grizzly bear; he doesn’t have bull walrus jowls, stubble that makes Desperate Dan look like a L’Oréal ad and a Reg Varney quiff; he doesn’t support Europe’s roughest, lairiest football team. Timo Soini does and I’m sure it’s a huge part of his appeal: he can talk about abstruse economic issues without sounding a ponce; he has the aura of the grizzled, battle-scarred, tough but fair sergeant you’d follow to hell and back; he looks like a real man, rather than just another bloody politician.

(to read more, click here)

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When You Really, Really Need the State, Will It Still Be Able to Save You?

At my uncle’s holiday apartment in Salcombe, Devon, is a tiny service lift so cramped and claustrophobic that you only use it in extremis: when you have heavy bags to carry up from the car, say, or a pile of sodden wetsuits which need drying on the balcony. Otherwise, it’s best avoided. Even the 40 seconds or so it takes to get from the bottom floor to the top are enough to give you the heebie-jeebies. You find yourself glancing at the emergency phone next to the floor buttons and thinking: ‘Jesus, I hope that works. Imagine if this thing ever broke down. It would be like the Black Hole of Calcutta.’

So we’re back from a day’s surfing at Bantham beach, the Fawn, Boy, Girl and I, and we’ve bought our cream tea, which we’ve got just enough time to eat before heading off to Kingsbridge to watch Super 8. Everything has gone smoothly, like a pre-Basra military operation. We’re squashed into the lift, wetsuits, heavy shopping, family of four, we’re whirring slowly upwards, when ‘Clunk!’, the lift stops.

‘Oh really,’ says the Fawn, mildly irritated, to the kids. ‘Did one of you knock a button?’ But I can see that they didn’t and that the button lights have all gone out. ‘No, I think it’s broken,’ I say, trying to keep the dread out of my voice and grabbing for the phone.

I dial the number. It is a recorded message, clearly designed for lift service engineers. It isn’t interested in the predicament of people like us, trapped in lifts. All it wants to know is the engineer’s job number or fault code or some such blithering irrelevance. Great. It’s like crash-landing in the sea and suddenly discovering that there isn’t, after all, a life vest under your seat.

(to read more, click here)

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Edge of Darkness

I’ve got this idea for a book, when I get the time, called Everything You Know Is Wrong. Its job will be to attack all the idiot received ideas of our age — what my father-in-law calls ‘notions’. High on the list of candidates, most definitely, is the commonly held belief (especially among stand-up comics) that Bill Hicks was the greatest comedian who ever lived.

Would people be saying this if Hicks hadn’t died of pancreatic cancer at 32? Probably not. Dead young people are so much easier to project your fantasies of unimpeachable greatness on to than people who are alive and fat and ageing and part of the establishment and just not as funny as they used to be. ‘He never sold out,’ say all his fans. Well, sure. He never had the time.

(to read more, click here)

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Dave, you’re a disappointment – but there’s still time to change that | James Delingpole

August 23, 2011

Dear Dave,

There are few things more annoying than when an old friend writes to tell you what a hash you’re making of your life. Especially when the friend is a squitty hack/blogger and you’re a leader of the free world. God, how impertinent is that?

But there are things that old friends can see that newer friends wouldn’t dare tell you even if they were capable of noticing. Yeah, you’re Prime Minister and I’m not, but I’m really not jealous. I don’t judge friends’ success by the titles or positions they’ve accumulated, or by how rolling in money they are or how powerful they’ve become. What I ask myself is: ‘Given the advantages they’ve had and the opportunities they’ve been given, have they achieved their full potential?’ And in your case the answer is no. Or at best, a very feeble ‘Not yet’.

(to read more, click here)

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2 thoughts on “Dave, you’re a disappointment – but there’s still time to change that”

  1. Staceey says:23rd August 2011 at 12:32 pmJames

    This is off topic.

    Newsnight yesterday, the introduction was England had just one the test series, then the rest of the slot was taken up bemoaning the state of asian cricket in the uk. Poor grounds poor facilities, not enough Asians playing for England etc.

    My point is that on the day that England one the series magnificently, all the BBC could do is be negative and attack English cricket?

  2. Staceey says:23rd August 2011 at 12:38 pmSorry won the series? and please feel free to delete the post when you have considered.

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We’re destroying our countryside – and for what? | James Delingpole

August 16, 2011

By the time you read this I’ll be in the place that makes me happier than anywhere else in the world: a section of the Wye valley in beautiful mid-Wales, where I’ll spend every day paddling in streams and plunging in mill ponds and playing cockie-ollie in the bracken and wandering across the sunlit uplands, drinking in perhaps the finest view God ever created — the one across the Golden Valley towards the Black Mountains, and beyond that to the Brecon Beacons.

And each time I do so I wonder sadly whether this will be the last time I get to witness such perfection. No, I’m not dying, I don’t think. But the country I love is.

(to read more, click here)

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Communitarianism is a freedom-hating totalitarian philosophy like any other | James Delingpole

June 27, 2011

The most unsettling aspect of modern politics is that the Enemy is no longer plain in view. We may feel in our bones that we are as oppressed, disenfranchised and generally shat upon, in our way, as those who suffered under Nazism, Marxism and fascism. But the actual evidence doesn’t seem to bear this out.

(to read more, click here)

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One thought on “Communitarianism is a freedom-hating totalitarian philosophy like any other”

  1. Nige Cook says:2nd July 2011 at 5:48 pmA great goal for an objective stops people from taking any real responsibility for their actions, because they can believe that any amount of “short-term” evil (like genocide) is justified by “long term” great goal’s benefits, like extra living space and an incrementally cleaner or less crowded environment. They know they have a “noble” goal of getting rich quick or making the world a utopia, so any method they use to get it – no matter how much it costs, how inefficient the solutions are, how much faking of “evidence” and no matter how many ad hominem attacks on justified criticisms – is justified to them.

    This is why these people never back down when disproved over mere “details”. They’re precisely like Hitler, who slapped his knee and said “I have nerves of steel” in 1933 when criticised for racism by Dr Max Planck, who told Hitler that Germany would suffer from the loss of Jews from German science under Nazi laws. Hitler and Stalin were stupid top dog bureaucrats who allowed utopian visions to block the perception of fatal flaws in their plans. Planck was able to get a face to face meeting with Hitler since he was founder of the quantum theory of radiation. Hitler ignored Planck’s warning, and kicked out top Jewish physicists from German academia (who fled to America), hence losing WWII by failing to make an atomic bomb. If Hitler had listened and given up racism, they would probably have made the bomb and dominated the world. Planck’s oldest son was killed in WWI and his younger son was executed by the Gestapo for an assassination attempt against Hitler.

    Such people are just deluded by wishful thinking into believing that they are morally justified by pursuit of big utopian goals, so that they don’t need to worry about the lying and evil details. The self-excusing “impossible to falsify” big-goal bureaucracy is the real evil. Trotsky had it right in The Revolution Betrayed (1936): Stalin appointed 15% of the population as bureaucratic administrators who did what they were ordered, just like the massive “eco-goaled” public sector today. With bureaucrats in power, liberty is dead.

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Stuff of legend – James Delingpole

June 21, 2015

A few years ago, my at-the-time-quite-impoverished screenwriter friend Jake Michie told me about this brilliant new children’s TV series he’d dreamed up about the Knights of the Round Table. All the male leads would be young and pretty with boy band haircuts; Arthur would be a bit of a rugger-bugger lunk, while the real hero would be a younger Merlin who would use his magic to get his pal out of all sorts of scrapes; and obviously there’d be monsters and demons and suchlike to stop the kids getting bored.

(to read more, click here)

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