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There’s been a bit of a problem with cows in Britain lately. Not enough of them are ending up in hamburgers. By that, I mean less, rather than fewer. Not that the cows are complaining. On the whole, they seem generally optimistic creatures. Considering their fate, which they don’t.
Blissfully ignorant of McDonald’s, Burger King and the cruel world beyond grassy meadows studded with buttercups and the milking shed, they appear content with their lot in life. It’s afterwards I’m on about.
Towards the end of their temporal existence, when the cow lorry from the abattoir turns up in the farmyard, they troop in as carefree as a group of jolly pensioners off for a day at the seaside. By the look of those big, trusting, brown eyes the last thing they expect is their entrails, and other gory bits, to end up in the industrial mincer at the back of the butcher’s. That’s where the journey of the special offer, value hamburger begins.
Despite the name, and a possible breach of the 1968 Trade’s Description Act, it turns out there is no ham in British hamburgers, and rather less cow than most consumers realise. Certain well-known UK supermarket chains, and burger outlets, have been telling porkies, as a large proportion of their hamburgers contain unmentionable bits of donkey and horsey.
British hamburger lovers are prepared to accept the odd rat getting into the mincer along with the usual insects, mouse droppings, cow brains, cow lips, dripping cow noses, cow eyes and cow bumholes that make up the average hamburger, as long as they’re British. But they draw the line at horse flesh, no matter how fresh and nutritious. Especially European horse flesh on, what I assume, are xenophobic grounds. Unlike some other nationalities I won’t mention, the British love horses, but not for lunch.
And the British love cows too, especially for Sunday lunch. However, British farmers have always had a bit of bad luck when it comes to cattle. If they’re not contracting foot and mouth disease, the selfish beasts are catching bovine spongiform encephalopathy, mad cow disease in layman’s terms. Apparently they got it from eating infected sheep. Now, I never realised cows hunted down sheep out in the wild before they were domesticated, but I suppose they must have. Otherwise, why would farmers come up with the idea of adding mutton to their winter feed? That brings me to wondering if there were ever milking sheds with signs saying: “You don’t have to be mad as a cow to work here, but it helps”.
To get back to the point. In what appears to be a dastardly foreign plot, dastardly foreigners have taken to slipping equine body parts into British hamburgers. It’s the sort of thing dastardly foreigners get up to. The beastly consequence has been that a lot of young girls’ first little ponies have arrived between two halves of a sesame bun. Horror of horrors! You might as well serve them pork pies made from tiny babies. Horses are Britain’s sacred cows, so to speak. You can ride ‘em, brush ‘em, race ‘em show ‘em, stroke their muzzles, or even lash them to walloping great ploughs, but you can’t eat ‘em.
Brits don’t mind wolfing down tiny, wide-eyed lambs so fluffy they make you want to pick them up and cuddle them, or gnawing at what were once happy, little, squealing piglets. They’ll suck at boiled bunny bones, and chomp up barbecued Bambis, but they’d rather bite a chunk out of your grandmother’s thigh than eat a bit of minced up horse in a hamburger. It might be alright for Frenchmen to tuck into a pony baguette but for an Anglo, it’s tabu.
So tabu, even if you and your pilot were stranded high in the Andes after your light aircraft had been brought down by a dangerous Colombian drug cartel, and you had to choose between eating the dying pilot, and a little horse that happened to come trotting by, the English would never forgive you for choosing the horse. Even if you were starving, and the little horse had a terminally bad limp, you wouldn’t be forgiven for chopping off the affected limb to eat. Instead, you’d be expected to carve it a wooden crutch from a tree branch to help it on its way to the vet.
So I expect you can all understand the size of the scandal. I’ll keep you all posted. Or not
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Love your opening lines, Bryan!! ‘problem… not enough of them are ending up in hamburgers…’ !!
And trooping in as carefree as jolly pensioners… I really enjoy your writing. And ‘young girls’ first ponies’ … oh, Bryan… & wolfing down wide-eyed lambs is okay. You’re just great with the visuals.