A recent comment by Edith Hope dragged up a memory long buried, which might explain my utter impatience with those that shun the meat. Edith commented that Mrs IG might enjoy a Waitrose lamb shank meal whilst I was away (I do all the cooking at Chez Idiot, for those that haven’t been keeping up), adding a qualification that this was, of course, if she ate meat.
Many years ago, when I was a lad, back when televisions were black and white and a Game Boy was a sporty young fellow who attracted an unhealthy interest from middle aged train spotters, there was a girl who drank in my local pub who was, in a word, beautiful. Such was her beauty that many men of all ages regularly made fools of themselves fawning over her. They tried to woo her with money, drinks, promises of gifts and holidays, tales of sexual prowess and displays of maleness. I didn’t join in; I will admit that as a young lad I looked as if I had been dragged through several hedges backwards.
One day, as the rutting season was in full flow, she came and sat with me at the bar to escape the wall of bravado being shunted in her direction. We began to talk, and she mentioned that I reminded her of Bagpuss (a crap stuffed cat on television in the UK) because I was ‘saggy, baggy and a bit loose at the seams’. I took that as my cue and we high-tailed it out to another much quieter pub. During the chat she mentioned that she was a vegan.
“I’m a vegan,” she said.
“Me too,” I replied.
That was that. I figured the odd fish supper wouldn’t be too bad. Then the awful truth descended upon me. No meat, no fish, no eggs, no cheese. NO CHEESE! I was a man trapped by lust, starving to death just to do the sex thing with this lovely creature. I forced my way through bowls of bulgar by thinking of her body. I lived the lie. I lived it well, until I could live it no more.
She moved to South London and I remained in North London. It was 30 minute train journey; it was a trainline, but it was also a lifeline. I inevitably spent the nights at her flat. In the morning we’d catch the train together. She’d get off in central London, and I’d walk her to her office. As a struggling freelance writer, my day started when I wanted it to. After I’d left her at work, I’d dash off to a cafe and get the works; sausage, bacon, egg, chips, beans, buttered toast and coffee. It became my daily ritual.
Then it happened. We were walking back to her place after the pub one night, heading back for our usual session of thrashing around under the sheets, and I said it. I just opened my mouth and it came out. It fell out, without my knowing it was going to happen. One minute I was thinking about her naked body, and the next I just said it.
“Listen, I’m going to get off home now. I’ve got an early start.”
She was surprised, but off I went, jumping off the train after one station and finding a kebab shop. Of all meats, the fatty nasty grey kebab is the worst, but I turned away from her gorgeous body and sold my soul to the kebab man. After that, the craving grew. I wanted her so much, but I found myself fantasising about steak, burgers, venison, cheese and pheasant. I kissed her lips with tenderness, but really wanted to wrap mine around a lamb chop. I watched her wiggle her arse, but dreamed of pork scratchings.
Then one day I didn’t turn up. It actually had nothing to do with meat and more to do with a game of poker. My trips to South London meant I hadn’t seen my own friends much, so I popped into the pub for one drink. One became many, and an all night poker game ensued. In the morning, we headed over to my house and I set about making a fine breakfast. Dave realised he had run out of cigarettes so headed to the local shop. I served up, and we all sat down to a feast of sausage, bacon, eggs, kidneys, steak and beans.
There was a knock at the door, and one of the lads got up to let Dave in.
Then it happened. It was her, marching in to my kitchen to demand answers about whether I was seeing someone else.
I froze, fork of meat en route to my mouth.
No one spoke. Then she pointed at my plate and snapped: “That’s meat”.
I didn’t know what to say, so I made a noise.
I went “Moooo”.
I never saw her again!