Journal, 24th – 30th March

This week, I’ve been thinking about salad. Not constantly, but more than is normal.

My problem with salad is that I hate it. It’s loathsome. I’m very much aware of the requirement to eat it, and I do my best; under normal conditions I force it down my throat three times a week or so, hating every single bite and telling myself it’s better than a coronary at 46. I hate the fact that everything tastes like grazing, except the non-salady bits; the rules for all salad assembly is “gather some tasteless shit, add small quantities of nice-but-bad-for-you-stuff, then drench it in vinegary crap that will hide the shitness of the main ingredients” which tells you exactly how this muck operates. The only salad I vaguely like is Caesar Salad, but if you gave me that without all the lettuce it would be six times nicer.

I also hate the fact getting the stuff from the plate into your mouth is a complex exercise of folding, stuffing, spearing, and chasing cherry tomatoes around the plate. I like food I can shovel. If I have to formulate a plan to trap my food, I’d like a more satisfying reward than two square metres of lollo rosso.

Hang on, though: that’s not my main gripe. No, my main issue is that when I tell people I hate salad, they don’t believe me. “Oh, you’ve probably not had a really good salads-” Bollocks. Yes I have. I’ve had really good salads (in salad terms, anyway) and I still thought they’d be nicer if you took all the stupid fucking leaves out. “Oh once you’ve got used to them though-” Well a: I’m as used to them as I was ever going to be and b: nobody told me I had to “get used to” roast beef. I understand I have to eat it, and it’s a chore. Now stop patronising me, you thin-arsed fuckpiece.

Is there a serious point to this, or does it just get on my increasingly ample tits? Hmm. There is a tendency in our culture to pretend that everything worthy also has to be enjoyable, and vice-versa. There’s a mild taboo against saying white bread is obviously nicer than brown, or jogging is not any fun whatsoever, for exactly the same reason that it’s not OK for anyone on “serious” television to say that going out and getting hammered on tequila is actually really great every now and then. It’s the polite face of kitsch, if you like. This week there has been massive consternation at the latest report on climate change which effectively said it’s now unstoppable, but that’s exactly what happens in a society which has lost the ability to say “this is going to be really shit and we’re probably going to wind up rationing everything, but millions of us are dying so grit your teeth and get through it.” Instead it was packaged as a lovely clean era with pretty windmills and super high-tech, because even if they’re hopelessly implausible, nice stories are the only ones we know how to do.

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I was in Bakewell this week. The little “welcome to Bakewell, here ‘s a cute map and some things to do” tourist sign was justifiably proud of Bakewell’s best-known creation – “No, not the Bakewell Tart, but the world-famous Bakewell Pudding.” Hopefully, even if you’re aware of neither confection, the construction of the sentence will highlight the problem with the sentiment. If Bakewell was a rock star it would be some arsehole like Sting: “Oh I don’t want to talk about The Police. Let’s discuss my best work, that album where I made all the musical instruments out of vegetables.”

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This week’s main achievement: recognising a Katy Perry song in front of A Young Person.

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New countries, new cultures. I decided to take advantage of being in the Manchester region the other day by getting myself a Cornish pasty, because “things wrapped in pastry” essentially covers the entire spectrum of Food England Does Well. The man in the one-of-those-places-like-Greggs-that-only-Britland-has informed me I could get one for 80p or two for a pound, which made me wonder exactly how big a lunch he expected me to eat. When I declined, I didn’t expect the response “You could give the other one to a beggar.”

When I moved the North America, I genuinely thought of getting myself a placard I could take with me when I want shopping, which would read I AM EUROPEAN AND UNUSED TO SERVICE CULTURE. IF ANYONE APPROACHES ME I WILL RUN OUT OF THE SHOP DUE TO RAW FEAR. The things I bought just because I didn’t want to seem rude are a constant source of shame. But of all the sales techniques, the If You Don’t Buy The Second Pasty, You Hate The Homeless is one of the most punishingly smart I’ve ever come across. I don’t hate the homeless, so I bought the second pasty. And could I find a beggar? Could I my prone-to-middle-class-shame arse.

I don’t want to say exactly how this situation resolved itself, but I can report that self-loathing tastes of pastry, gravy, and non-specific meat. And it’s fucking delicious, so there.

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That’s all this week. Yeah, it’s short, I’ve been jetlagged.

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