Day 96

Do you want food with that?

Food Distancing

There is a reason I developed Type 2 Diabetes. [Do NOT mention McDonald’s in the next sentence! Legal are going ballistic – Ed.] Veggie roll may have something to do with it, or vegetable roll to give the foodstuff its full, formal title. For those of you reading (and apparently there are only about three of you left, depending on the day) who are not from this benighted isle, veggie roll is beef, probably, but not beef as you know it, Jim; it is meat from those parts of the dead cow that are hardest to reach and which has been separated from its dead bones by a process you do not want to know about. A slice or two of onion, and a few ragged leaves of something vaguely green are then mixed into the piles of meat off-cuts, the mixture is rolled into a cylinder shape and wrapped in plastic and sold to us, either as a whole cylinder or sliced.

Each to his own, but the fact that this mixture of offal and brains and hooves of dead cows is sold to us under the name vegetable roll is surely a court case waiting to happen? The roll part is accurate enough, but using vegetable to describe a substance that is about 97.3% meat is surely stretching the word a bit too far? I envisage a case brought under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, and in which I will argue – convincingly – that vegetable roll was a contributing factor in my acquiring diabetes, and that the complications thereof for my social, emotional and culinary life are such that I should be generously rewarded compensated in respect of them. I will, naturally, represent myself at the legal proceedings; the last thing you want to do when it comes to legal proceedings is to get lawyers involved.

“I put it to me, your Honour,” I shall say as part of my two-hour summing up speech, “that my client, a decent, upstanding but culinary-naive citizen, would never have gone within a beagle’s gowl of the foodstuff under examination (cross or otherwise) had he been aware of its actual ingredients. A trusting soul at the best of times, he presumed he was eating his way to tip-top health through the prodigious mountains of vegetable roll that he consumed each and every morning for twenty years. And the major, nay only, factor in this mistaken belief of his was the actual misnomer of a name the foul disc is advertised and sold under. I mean, your Honour, notwithstanding the fact that if it tastes vaguely like meat, and looks vaguely like meat, it probably is vaguely like meat, my client was duped by its name into believing he was consuming vegetables – and much more than the recommended five a day, I might add – and, as such and heretofore, was completely flabbergasted when his GP presented him with a diagnosis of incurable Type 2 Diabetes. You see him sitting there today, a broken, diminished man, his trust in the purveyors of goods for consumption to accurately name those goods completely shattered. ‘What next?’ he wonders with trepidation. Has his smoked salmon not actually passed through the lungs of a fellow human being before he eats it? Is that not actually a toad he has been biting the head off for years once he has extricated it from its hole? Is Big Stew in any way actually of greater proportions than its colleague, Wee Stew? I leave it to the generosity of the Court to adequately quantify the damage done to this poor wretch. Usual 10% off the top to you, of course, your Honour.”

As for who I should sue, there is not an actual rich, multinational company in charge of the global veggie roll trade – it being a Norn Iron delicacy. So I might just have to take my action against the estate of my dead mother who first introduced the substance to my diet, thus cutting off my nose to spite my face.

Part-Time Wife reliably informs me that her granny used to cook veggie roll without first removing the encircling plastic casing. While this may have added to the nutritional content of the meal, it hardly did anything for the taste.

It is her birthday today, she also informs me. I wonder what she got?

Remind me to do the McDonald’s post some other day. [Another call-back! Do your homework – Ed.] In the meantime, this is a good laugh.


Day 85

The modern Lone Ranger rides again (Mask by Hazel)

More than Social Distance

Yes, I was AWOL yesterday. I took another non-essential essential trip to the nearest metropolis in the afternoon, mainly to meet up with the Girlfriend for a coffee, and by the time I got back to the hacienda, I was so knackered that, after re-scheduling the afternoon siesta I had missed and eating a drop of food I had not missed at all, I was too tired to write anything and went to bed early.

Belfast is gradually opening up again. But gradually is the operative word. People who are in a hurry are going to experience a lot of frustration as everything takes longer than it used to, even fast food. The other day, I had to be directed round a roundabout in a shopping centre by a hi-vis jacket man (even though I had right of way) as otherwise I would have become entangled in the impressive queue of vehicles waiting for up to an hour to get their fix of McDonald’s, which had just re-opened on a drive-through basis, like chapels haven’t. And that reminds me of Spike’s mate who was refused service late one night at the drive through McDonald’s near his home on the spurious grounds that he was not in a car. C’mon off it, McDonald’s! There surely is no law stating you must be in a car to be sold inedible meat substitute in a drive through? Fair play to him for trying though, and fair play to Ronald McDonald for creating yet another unhappy customer.

I once forced McDonald’s to change one of their corporate policies – but I will tell you about that another day. [But will you? There are a number of call-backs you have not fulfilled in your back posts – do some tidying up at the weekend – Ed.] The whole ‘not being in a rush thing’ is to my liking: I like the new slow. Even on our stroll from her place of business to the coffee shop that was open (for takeaway only), me and the Girlfriend sauntered slower than usual, probably because of the lack of other pavement traffic and the absence of people rushing around as fast as possible either in case they miss something or to get out of Belfast as quickly as possible as it is still a shit-hole. Belfast Marketing Department has now created more ‘quarters’ in Belfast than the mathematically stipulated four – the Cathedral Quarter, the Titanic Quarter (that went down well), the University Quarter, etc, etc – but, as I am wont to say, it does not matter how many quarters they create, the place is still a hole. (The joke here, Question Girl, is wordplay on hole/whole, OK?) When we got to the coffee shop, it was the ‘only one in the shop at a time’ scenario, so I let Girlfriend queue up while I sat at one of the benches outside – she was paying, so there was no point in both of us queuing up. I think I had two full cigarettes smoked, and extinguished in my personal ashtray that I take everywhere with me, by the time she showed up with my flat white. I also had a brief chat with the bloke a couple of benches up about the subject of my personal ashtray, with which he was very impressed (with). Now this would not normally have happened PC – when not wearing a mask and dark glasses (see pic), I am the fortunate possessor of a face which, in resting mode, gives others the impression that I am in the worst mood they have ever seen in their lives and, therefore, puts them off approaching me for social chit-chat. Which suits me fine: social chit-chat with strangers was never near the top of my list of hobbies.

So then Girlfriend arrived with the coffees and we had our talk. We had not met in person since the start of the Kerfuffle, so there was a lot to chat about. The child is probably shaving by now, but she had not brought him with her, thank God: babies are such a distraction, don’t you find? Wee ego-maniac attention-seekers the lot of them. Stewie is the relevant poster boy here.

By the time our wide-ranging discourse was over, nearly an hour had passed. And a very pleasant hour it was too, even at the hiked-up Kerfuffle rate. So, if coffee breaks in PC World (not that one) now last an hour, I am all for the new normal. Maybe we will even then graduate to a two-hour lunch break like they have in civilised countries (you know who you are). Unfortunately, I was prevented from walking girlfriend all the way back to the brothel (no such a thing as one customer at a time in there, let me tell you!) due to my underlying medical condition: diabetes sometimes, especially after coffee, makes me have to pee really quickly, and there is no holding it in. So we performed our sweet sorrow (‘parting’, Question Girl) and I legged it round the corner to the one automatic toilet contraption in Belfast. And what did I find? A notice on it saying that it was temporarily closed due to covidnovid. Now, bear with me here, this is an automated, self-cleaning contraption of a toilet that permits only one peeing customer at a time [I see what you did there – Ed.] and requires no human worker to ensure its function. So why the Hell was it closed? If this World becomes any more illogical, I may start to grow fond of it.

Flann O’Brien hung a whole novel (a short one, admittedly) on the topic of public facilities, and fair play to him. How did I solve my predicament? I did what any ex-Lord Mayor of Belfast would do and displayed my respect for the city by pissing all over it. And I will quote extensively from Flann O’Brien in the consequent court case, if there is one.

I got the job, by the way. Thanks for asking.