Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Just call me chicken.

In order to not only come across as a nicer person but also to improve my complexion, my New Year’s resolution was a simple one: to smile more. Smiles are free and generally speaking, when someone throws one in my direction, I find that it improves my day immeasurably.
So far it has been the hardest resolution I’ve ever attempted. Giving up fags* was a piece of cake by comparison, although it has to be said that I have yet to give up pieces of cake. Things started badly when, on Sunday and, as a family we visited Eden, or as I like to call it, Armageddonland. Visually spectacular it may be but by God they don’t half drive home that old adage, “The world is coming to an end”. There is only so much recycling evangelism one can stomach before wanting to scream, “Oh bring on Mickey Mouse”. Now there’s a theme park. I left depressed, thinking of all the packaging we had thrown away over Christmas. If there is environmental Karma, then boy was I going to get it.
A couple of days later I woke with renewed zeal and drove to my local supermarket, smiling at everyone I saw and saying ‘Good Morning’ brightly. The elderly folk were quite disarmed by my jollity yet responded positively and one gentleman actually doffed his cap in my direction, I doubt he gets much opportunity for cap doffing these days.
I walked across to the fresh meat counter. Having watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s earnest attempts to get us, the great British public to buy our meat responsibly, I was determined to take on board his message to think of the life lived by the chicken. Being a large family with huge appetites we need a stonker of a chicken to feed us but the choice awaiting me was very limited – just a paltry selection of poultry legs.
An employee was stacking the shelves. I put on my best smile and asked if there was a chance the store could sell whole free range birds,
“No me ‘ansome. There’s no call for them. We’ll have a hard job selling these”, she said pointing her Bic at the portions.
“That’s such a pity”, I answered still smiling, “It’s just that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is heading a national campaign to change our eating habits”.
“Is’zee an MP?”, she looked bewildered.
“No, he’s on TV”. I decided to keep it simple.
“What Channel?” she queried.
“Four”, I replied.
“That’ll be why then”, she said, as if being on Channel 4 explained everything.
“We’ve got some corn fed ones”, she added brightly pointing at some yellow fleshed fowls.
“It wouldn’t make any difference if they were caviar fed”, I answered dispiritedly, “It still wouldn’t mean that the chickens had been running and clucking around in the fresh air.”
“Can’t help you then love”, she said, dismissing me.
I wandered over to the fruit and veg, my smile having slipped minutes before. I’d not only been listening to Hugh but to Jeremy Vine** too who had reminded me that there was a chance of living 14 years extra if I didn’t smoke or drink and if I exercised regularly and ate lots of fruit and vegetables. As the old joke goes, with all those sanctions in place I wouldn’t really live 14 years more, it would just feel like it.
Well joking aside, I thought it best to heed the advice of Jeremy Vine and his experts and buy fruits rich in vitamins and antioxidants. In other words ‘super foods’ such as blueberries and raspberries. I looked at the packaging which were big plastic pots inlaid with bubble wrap and containing a handful of fruits. Then, I looked to see where they were grown: the raspberries were from Morocco and the blueberries from Chile. My heart sank. So, to stop myself from getting cancer I had to purchase food from far flung reaches of the globe which had then been air freighted to this country - oh the guilt. My heart was heavy with the responsibility of trying to eat well and yet shop ethically because there was a greater risk of cancer for everyone, not only to me, due to the pollution of the planes that had carried my fruits to this country let alone the lorries that had delivered them to my store, let alone the carbon emissions from the plastic pot as they sat for the next 2 million years resolutely refusing to biodegrade. I was truly miserable.
“Cheer up love”, said a chap and he leant over my shoulder and, without so much as a thought for green house gases; he threw a plastic carton of strawberries into his wire basket, “It may never happen”.
“It’s too late”, I replied, “It already has”.
I paid for my goods and returned to my car. Another car had parked very tightly next to mine and it was very tricky getting into the driver’s side. I gently opened the door and literally squeeze myself in by squishing my tummy flat and not breathing.
There was a man in the car that was parked next to mine. Instead of repositioning his car, his window went down.
“Oi, you’ve just hit my car with your door”, he glared at me. I was astonished and looked at his car.
“Actually, I didn’t”, I replied, “I gently leant it against your door handle. This is a very tight squeeze”.
“Well you should have parked straight then you fat, f*cking bitch". I was speechless. How could that level of aggression been generated in such a short space of time? No wonder people get stabbed in road rage incidents. I didn’t feel like stabbing him though, I just felt humiliated and stupid and even more of an idiot when stupid, unsolicited tears fell down my face. It made me want rewrite an old proverb, ‘Smile and the world thinks you’re bonkers; cry and you cry alone feeling fat, foolish and thoroughly fed up’.

Glossary for American readers - * I haven't given up homosexuals. 'Fags' are cigarettes in this country. I wouldn't want to alienate any gays who like my blog.

** - Jeremy Vine presents a light, debating type programme on BBC Radio 2. It's like Dr Phil on the radio.


Mary Alice said...

Oh. My. Gawd. I am flying over there directly and finding that man and kicking him in the shin for you. How horrible. Watch this video Alice Band, it will fill you with revenge fantasies:
BTW My sister Jo started her blog with the intention of starting a dialog about how you do manage to live on one income, cook healthfully, buy locally and organically - so many things we would like to accomplish and yet so difficult to do.

Alice Band said...

I fail miserably on the perfect housewife front I am afraid, although we do eat well - it is most certainly not always organic, free range or particularly local - but my heart is in the right place. In fact I get my Musselmans Apple Butter shipped from the States for me. How wicked is that? If anyone has a recipe I am happy to try it - please don't let it start thus : First get a 4 quart kettle because that is language I just don't understand! I also have a penchant for Chex Mix - love it!

Mary Alice said...

Yes, I love apple butter. I could roll around in the stuff I love it so much...and yes, all the recipes start with: Take a cauldron and put it over a wood bon fire in the barn yard and have 300 of your Amish neighbors start peeling the apple harvest. You would be wise to stick to the current Musselman arrangement. Watch that video link I gave you. You will pee your pants.

thefoodsnob said...

It's so hard to eat organic/local in the winter. I had some cherries from Chile in my cart and bought them, though feeling very guilty.
What a horrible jerk! I all too often think of smart comebacks after I've left the scene.
Too bad your nice start to your day didn't end that way, sorry you met up with an idiot.


enidd said...

enidd did the same door thing to a nasty man in a campsite - he insisted she'd scratched his door (impossible) and she ended up paying him to get it fixed. still makes her go grrrrr to this day.

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Alice......

Sorry to have been absent for so long........

Horrible man...... I really felt for you.