Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Cuddling up with the General

It was that early in the morning it was still dark. I crouched down on all fours and peered into the General’s house. I could just make him out laying sprawled on one of his gigantic sides taking up half the pig ark, and beside him the shapes of three other pigs.

My first thought was to wake the lazy pigs up, bang on the tin roof and yell that I had breakfast and it was a lovely morning and what on earth were they still doing in bed? But I didn’t. I did the opposite. Without thinking, I crept in.

I crawled through the straw careful to avoid bumping into the sleeping group until I was behind the General. Then I lay down next to him, put him arm over his shoulder, and spooned into a cuddle behind him.

It was warm and the air smelled of fresh straw and that kind of musky scent of pig. It’s not unpleasant. He wriggled a bit as he got used to my body behind him, and then fell still.
I felt small in that way you sometimes feel small when you look up at the stars on a really clear, really dark night. Small not because it seems so big, but small because you feel so close and kind of surrounded. Small in the comforted sense of the word.

I guess I did feel comforted. Since my first pig Kylie died, I’d become really good mates with the General. We kind of hung out together, nothing excessive, just when I went down to feed I’d spend a bit of time with him. I liked to tell him what’s going on with everyone on the farm, and I swear he likes to keep up with the gossip.

Laying there listening to the General and the three snore and shuffle about in their sleep, it was like I was a kid again and having a sleep-over with my friends. I thought of the last sleep-over I had before reaching the age where it became un-cool, probably about nine or ten. I thought about camping trips with the school. I thought about—wooh! One of the pigs let out the most violent wind that smelled like it had been trapped for some considerable time in the folds of Satan’s underpants. Yep, just like camping with the school.

Outside it was beginning to get light. I’d come down early to feed so I could get on with the day. I stroked the General’s side. I had loads to do, loads to be getting on with. I stoked him some more. I should get up. I let my eyes slip closed. My last thought before I drifted off to sleep was that I really, really shouldn’t have closed my eyes.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

I grabbed my head and ducked.

“Simon!” Debbie yelled.

Confused. Banging. Lots of noise, keep down - hang on, where am I—oh.

I opened my eyes. The pigs had gone. I was alone in the ark. In the doorway Debbie stood staring in. She didn’t look happy. I struggled up onto my knees and smiled. “Morning,” I said.

She rolled her eyes and looked like she wished she’d had the presence of mind to bring a rolling pin. “I’ve been worried sick,” she said.

Beside her the General poked his head around the opening. I gave him a look like, you could have woken me!

“And you needn’t look so pleased with yourself,” she told him, swiping him on the neck. He made a Mm sound and wandered off. Looking back she said to me, “you left a sack of feed outside. Between the four of them they’ve scoffed nearly all of it. Simon, it’s nine o’clock!”

I rolled back into the straw. “I can explain,” I said.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Two cooking books to review

Just received two stunning cooking books to review for magazines, but it seems churlish not to yell about them a little bit here first!An exciting cookbook from one of Britain's landmark meat-free restaurants http://www.amazon.co.uk/Food-Friends-Modern-vegetarian-cooking/dp/1906821542/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287408191&sr=1-1


a beautiful, arty, coffee table cookbook http://www.diningcity.nl/toscanini/en/index.php

As soon as i know when the reviews are to be published, I'll put up here the magazines and newspapers they'll be in.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Rant without a cause

I like my life, and sometimes that’s a problem. I want to rant, I’m a man for God’s sake! Men rant and shout and yell at the injustices of their life. I want to be one of those. Not all the time, but every now and then. Like now.

I want to stand on my own private soap box and yell out at the world that it’s not bloody fair!

Trouble is I’ve got a really good life and I’m ever so happy. But it doesn’t stop me wanting to rant! I’d scream at the football, only I don’t like football.

So I yell at the pigs – not AT the pigs, at the pigs; they’re my audience, not the subject matter. I yell and they gather around me and I tell them that, “It’s not fair!”

Of course it’s all rubbish. There’s nothing in my life that’s unfair at all. I’m the luckiest person I know. But that hardly seems relevant.

“It’s not fair!” I yell.

Pigs are a great audience. They don’t care how weak the content of your rant as long as it’s passionate. They do like a passionate speech.

When I get going I’m like a cross between Michael Macintyre and Winston Churchill, skipping round the pig pen shouting, “We’ll fight them on the beaches, Come On…”

I can see the beach from here, though quite who I’d fight on Lynmouth beach in the middle of winter I haven’t quite worked out. It’s not renowned for invading marauders, though there was talk once of setting up a ferry service across from Wales.

I’m a ranter without a cause. A freelance ranter. If my life was horrible, I’d be brilliant. People would flock from near and wide to hear me moan. The fact that I’m happy is a loss and a tragedy!

“It’s not fair,” I yell again. I’m loosing my audience. One of the pigs has wandered off to eat a tree, and the others are weighing up whether to watch him or stick with my, It’s Not Fair speech. They wander off.

So I’m alone. That’s okay. A man can rant alone, in fact that’s when we’re at our best. I might even be able to work that into the speech.

But I don’t. Truth is a rant is like a magic trick, there’s no point to it if there’s nobody to watch you. I stuff my hands into my pockets, hunch my shoulders and wander over to join the throng surrounding the tree munching pig. I really need to get out more.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Feeling for Edwina

Autumn will forever more be known as the Masterchef time of year. There's Masterchef Australia with its maddeningly catchy theme tune, Masterchef the Professionals, Masterchef for kids - we're inches away from Masterchef for Poochy Pets.

Then suddenly from the heat of the complicated kitchen, comes the prospect of 'Egg Week'. A whole week dedicated to eggs. Seven days to celebrate the beautiful simplicity of this little package of gorgeousness, all neat and tidy in a delicate shell.

Scrambled, boiled, poached, fried, scotch eggs, egg mayonnaise...

With near fifty free range chickens to my name, I should be jumping for joy at the egglicious prospects, for there is no better way to start the day and we should all be going to work on an egg. And here lies the problem.

I can't help thinking of Edwina Curry. Eggs make me think of Edwina Curry.

Here's a lady who entered politics, we would like to think, to make a difference and do something special, and yet we remember her for claiming that eggs give you salmonella poisoning and could wipe out the UK in a single Sunday morning fry-up, and then shagging the greyest man in the country.

I wonder if Edwina will enjoy a little egg this week?