Bryan Hemming

short stories, comment, articles, humour and photography

Rats, rats, big as bloomin’ cats, in the store…

Rats

There were rats, rats, big as bloomin’ cats, in the store, in the store… as the old wartime song goes. My father used to get us all to sing it on long car journeys to the sea. Despite the true tale behind it, it was a jolly little song, which my three sisters and I learned to join in with. But we could never have imagined it might come true again.

With the sensationalist media reports of super-rats up to 2ft long being found in kitchens from Uppsala through Henley to Freiburg anyone might think a new breed of rat is invading Europe. But no. Despite the conclusions of most delusionists, there is no new mutant species of super-rat. However, there does seem to be a direct correlation between the growing size of humans in the Western world, and the growing size of rats. Both appear to be related to the explosion in consumption of fatty, takeaway, fast foods.

The rats, the old war song refers to, fed on rotting corpses lying in the trenches during the First World War. And then they moved in on the quartermaster’s store to satisfy their growing appetites. The centenary of the official start of WW1, the deadliest conflict in history, falls on July 28th 2014. I won’t be putting the bunting up or getting out the flags. Nevertheless, led by David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, there is a section of British society, who seem to think the start of a war that claimed over over 60 million lives, some of whose corpses were desecrated and devoured by rats, is a cause for national celebration. Presumably they’re among the international bankers and arms dealers, who made their fortunes, while other people’s children died, or their bodies were permanently mutilated. Lest we forget.

Now the same sort of people make some of their fortunes in other controversial ways. The giant rats of today feed on casually discarded, takeaway, junk food and its packaging. In the same way grossly obese people are not superhuman, in the manner of Superman, grossly obese rats are not super-rats. They are the result of a fast food, takeaway society, which disposes of its surplus junk food by throwing it on the streets, or into open bins left unemptied too long. And the reason, as always, is to do with money and profit margins.

The detritus of fast food outlets is designed specifically to become someone else’s problem, and something else’s treat. The taxpayers pay for the clean-up, while city councils allow the multiplying rodents to do a great part of it, bringing with them infections and disease. If the people are so fat they can throw away food, it’s little wonder the rats are getting even fatter. And so are the people with the contracts to do the cleaning. Because they ain’t doing it properly.

But it still comes down to us. We, the people who eat this shit, and shove it down our children’s gullets as we plonk them in front of the telly to keep them quiet.

The problems super-rats pose, when they start looking to get even fatter by coming into our houses to raid, are not so different from the problems posed by our obese children raiding the fridge at night, or stealing from our purses to buy a packet of chips. Both end up in disease of one type or another, and are a drain on our hard-earned incomes.

They are a direct result of Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, and their like, deciding it’s cheaper for them to have us eating outside their premises than in. They don’t have to pay people to wait on customers, or wash up, and they even expect you to clear your own tables. So it’s not surprising their takeaway customers follow the same philosophy of expecting someone else to clean their mess up after them either.

Fast food restaurants are designed to get most people to eat on the streets, or anywhere else but their premises. They don’t pay rent for the streets, and they don’t pay the amount of taxes it takes to clean them up. They don’t pay for the rat infestations, or the heavy weight literally put on over-strained health services and caused by the junk foods they serve. They don’t pay for the heart attacks, the wheelchairs, the mental anguish, and the diet psychologists. Like big pharma, and big farming, they just frack the cash fatness provides.

Big King, Kentucky, Whopper McRat is not an accident of evolution, he is the result of a commercial ploy to take advantage of the free market and the taxpayer by passing on the real cost of highly-addictive, salt-loaded and sugar-cut, takeaway food to a gullible public.

Copyright © 2014 Bryan Hemming

Click on A plague of orphan, baby rats –  for a short story on rats

 

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12 comments on “Rats, rats, big as bloomin’ cats, in the store…

  1. Pingback: OMG, such a big rat! Rattie MJ looks big in comparison to tiny Peaches. | Yours *TrulyJuly*

  2. therapyjourney
    May 1, 2014

    It’s disgusting! If I ever have kids I vow not to feed them on junk food just because it’s cheap, easy and keep them quiet. There’s something so wrong with that! When I was a kid for months of the year we’d eat vegetables we’d grown in the allotment. We’d have traditional food which is quite healthy, never with too much oil, salt or dairy. Dessert of any kind was a treat, and was usually fruit albeit sometimes tinned, or two scoops of ice cream for special occasions. McD0nald’s was a special Friday treat a few times a year. I’d make my filet o’ fish & fries last for hours!

    Like

    • Bryan Hemming
      May 1, 2014

      Sounds like you had a similar childhood to mine, where eating out anywhere was such a treat my three sisters and I were always on our best behaviours.

      We also fed on a lot of homegrown food. Lucky enough to have a house with a garden, for some of the time, we ate many vegetables from that, and from the gardens of neighbours and friends with a surplus to sell.

      Like

      • therapyjourney
        May 1, 2014

        Yeah… that was the life huh. I didn’t realise how exceptional that was, even then. I thought it was normal and everyone lives like that with a healthy attitude to food and the idea that waste was a ‘sin’!

        Like

  3. eremophila
    April 21, 2014

    Bravo! Tackling another of the sacred cows! Er…um…. Rattus?!

    Like

  4. Laura Bloomsbury
    April 19, 2014

    ahh! those seaside trips when somehow we were all svelte on suet puddings and crackling. Did not know the origins of the songs but I guess the rats were there at Gettysbury, Waterloo and Culloden!

    I’m reading ‘Make Room, Make Room’ – the book that launched Soylent Green and it does not read like fiction :/ Should things get that dire would hate to have to eat any rats that have consumed fast food! Ah yes but “Soylent Green is people”!

    Like

    • Bryan Hemming
      April 19, 2014

      Crackling, don’t get me started on foods I love that are bad for me. Have you ever tried chicharrones? They’re about the nearest thing you can get to pork crackling here in Spain. They’re crispy, they’re very fatty, and they’re delicious.

      Hadn’t heard of ‘Make Room, Make Room’. Will look it up.

      Like

      • therapyjourney
        May 1, 2014

        I loooove chicharrones the type with burnt, plump garlic cloves still in their skins… oh and the occasional hairy chicharrone is great because they really freak my boyfriend out.

        Like

      • Bryan Hemming
        May 1, 2014

        Don’t tempt me, I’m licking my lips already. Today’s a public holiday so I can’t go out and get any. Usually Thursdays and Friday are chicharrone days round here. You made me smile about the hairy ones.

        Like

  5. Wendy Kate
    April 18, 2014

    I am just wondering if these super-fat-rats suffer from the same problems as obese humans? Are they likely to keel over with a heart attack or organ failure…?Or maybe they are thriving on it.

    Like

    • Bryan Hemming
      April 19, 2014

      I’ve seen a few rats in el campo round here, and I have a lovely story about our dog catching a snake by the tail, which turned out to have a rat in its mouth. The rats here seem pretty big, but I have seen them flying out of bushes and across the road, so they’re pretty fit rather than fat. I think I’m more likely to die of a heart attack if I see a 2ft rat than if the rat sees me. So perhaps they are thriving.

      Like

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