Thursday, 26 March 2009

Hunting & Supermarket Consumerism


It occurs to me that - in the teeming isolation of the Blogosphere - I could happily put forward the notion that, given the prevalence of the deadly rays that have recently - as we all know - begun to emanate from toasters, it would only be plain common sense for each and every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom to henceforth and forthwith take immediate anti-toaster-death-ray action by - and forgive me if this is obvious but sometimes in a crisis like this people panic and neglect to practise even the simplest of self-preservative measures - by securely wrapping their heads (and, well, yes, possibly also the reproduction-related zones) in that well-known anti-toaster-death-ray technological marvel commonly known as 'greaseproof paper'.

Nothing would, as I say, prevent me from putting this forward in all seriousness. As it happens, I'm not going to put this forward in any form of seriousness, but what I am going to put forward has - I recognise - no great structural difference from the suggestion above regarding the toaster-death-rays. It's a notion that has gradually reached maturity after having developed a while in the warm and secluded innards of my bonce and now, full-grown, proud and strutting about in the world, has begun to have quite profound effects on my actions (though I think 'on my behaviour' is the more accepted way of saying this) amidst the warp and woof of polite society. The observable effects that these notions have produced within my behaviour do - and a swift straw poll of my acquaintances would, I suspect, confirm this rather readily - perhaps seem a little odd.

So, as I say, this may well be lunacy but this is, after all - and there's no easy way of saying this - a blog: this sort of thing happens here.

So, moving right along: Firstly - and I know I'm on solid ground with this, at least - there are these giant, big-shed-architecture, alien-spaceship-kinda-things, that have, there's no question about it, landed near the outskirts of nearly every damn town in this our United Kingdom. It's happened over the course of the last, let's say, fifteen years; it happened slowly enough to begin with at first - one here, softly, softly and then one there - but, gaining in confidence perhaps, they soon began to land in a frequency, and with an increasing glass and steel bulk, that suggested their aim was far less a mild assimilation among us so much as as flagrant, fully-armoured and jack-booted conquest, domination and terrible, tyrannous rule over us.

I speak, of course, of 'supermarkets'.

Now, there are many things to say about the peculiarities of these buildings: I could speak at length of the stilted, shrunken and unbelievably repetitive vocabulary of the poor narcotised drones that - nylon-clad and hollow-eyed - staff these places: "Would you like some help with your packing? Please enter your pin!" Day in, day out the same refrain: "Please enter your pin! Would you like some help with your packing?" But no, this, today, is not my topic.

My topic today is, instead, the issue of the variously sized and plastic-wrapped, beige, brown, pink, and pinkish-red packages that litter the chilly aisles of these alien, pagan cathedrals: my topic is the meat you find in supermarkets.

It gives me, the meat I find in supermarkets - and this is a phrase that may need translating for the many thousands of North American and Canadian readers that my blog attracts - it gives me the willies.

It gives me the willies: It provokes a strange sense that something - something not obviously very graspable, perhaps, something that resists an easy and consoling definition within the world of words - is wrong somewhere; profoundly and unsettlingly wrong but also perhaps wrong in a way peculiar enough to produce shivers of disquiet. So, when you hear, 'Crikey, oh dear, that doesn't half gives me the willies, that' - that's what's meant.

Buying meat from supermarkets, the idea of it gives me the willies.

This has been coming on for a while and may, I stress, be me simply having gone a bit bonkers - but it is the way I feel so what can I do? It just feels increasingly weird and stupid to be buying meat from these places and that's aside from how expensive it is. Though that, by itself, since I'm now a member of the growing UK Jobless club, has certainly put the brakes on my buying the stuff - but it's not solely because the average bit of rump steak causes an eye-popping deflation of the wallet at the vocabulary-restricted checkouts - it's more than that.

It just feels, somehow, wrong for me to buy meat in supermarkets. I could come up with a rationalisation about why that might be the case: I might, for instance say that the stranglehold that the all-conquering giant-alien-supermarkets have on both the farmers that produce the meat and the Joe Publics that buy the meat is a fundamentally crazy state of affairs - and, to a certain extent I think that's right. It's no secret that, despite the pictures of happy farmers gracing the packaging in the supermarkets, many farmers are far from happy with the way that supermarket buying-power bullies them into having sell their products at cripplingly low prices. The terrible grip that the supermarkets have on the lives of farmers in the U.K is clearly crap - but, grim as it is, I still don't think that this is - personally - why I feel strange about buying meat from supermarkets.

Pondering it a little more, I find that I still really don't know why this is. It's possible that it feels weird at the moment because I don't have a job. Perhaps the shivers are a form of guilt? Perhaps I have St.Paul's words in my ear "We hear that some among you are idle. [...] Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.." . Maybe - with the stuff in the pink plastic packets - maybe I think I shouldn't have it because I don't feel like I've earned it? Maybe if I go out and shoot a rabbit, maybe then I feel like I've earned my dinner? It could be.

That's certainly the way I've drifted, anyway: away from buying meat and more towards trying to get it for myself. What I seem to do now is buy veg and stuff from supermarkets (well, from the cheap & reduced shelves, anyway) and then go out later and try to shoot myself a rabbit. That's been the plan, anyway - but I'm not that good at it and it's not that easy to do so I've become - and there's something of an irony here - much more of a damn vegetarian than I'd have thought likely at the outset when I proudly purchased my hell-bent-on-meat-eating, fine German air rifle).

And now, as I drift further and further away from the crowded shopping precincts where my fellow men gather to buy rib-eye and organic chicken, I seem to find myself thinking more and more of an imaginary, idyllic little shack on the edge of a wood somewhere; somewhere I can dwell hermit-like with my Weihrauch, shoot rabbits, grow carrots, pick mushrooms, grow a giant beard and - though this bit is harder to imagine - wash even less than I do at the moment.

There'd have to be greaseproof paper in the shack too, it goes without saying...
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