Monday 12 August 2013

Fake sheep

Anyone want to buy a swimming pool? OK, possibly not, now the British summer has come crashing to a halt, although it is still blazing away here in France. With a house full of guests, including some close family, the old piscine is a major necessity this time of year – when it works. But, sadly, ours doesn’t. Well, I suppose that depends on the job description, as technically it is still a hole in the ground full of water which you can swim in, but unfortunately, in my hour of need, the water bluntly refuses to stay in it. What started out as a pin-hole in the plastic liner has now developed into a massive rip that can no longer be patched up with my bicycle repair kit and thus is leaking faster than a cardboard boat during the sinking season! Aha, says wily old Andy, what if we attempt to pump the water back out from behind the liner. After some clever installation of a recycling pump, this did have a small effect on maintaining the status-quo for a week or two. But now the whole liner has collapsed inwards and is only a fraction away from total disintegration – and an ensuing five figure bill to replace it. Well, not on my wages it won’t be. Methinks I will fill it full of fish instead, so that the guests can catch their own dinner! If they really want a swim, there is always the lake, as one of them accidentally found out late one evening last week.
On the subject of lakes, Wendy and I had a great trip around Ireland last month. Stunned by its beauty, especially in the west, we were stunned further by the weather which topped 30 degrees as we swum in the Atlantic off the Connermara coast. However, once we reached Killarney and the Ring of Kerry, it was more of a stun-gun that was required, as the hotel – and indeed whole town - was packed full of rather large and very loud Americans. Whilst wedging ourselves in a lift – or elevator, as they insist on calling it – full of them, one pointed to Pooper, our scruffy mongrel, and asked in a deafening Texan accent, ‘Is that a Border collie?’ When I admitted that there was a touch of sheepdog in her chequered pedigree, as one, the whole ensemble started chattering away as excitedly as a classroom full of toddlers. It seems that one of the excursions that were lined up for these gross tourists was to a working sheep farm. For ‘working sheep farm’, read, one enterprising farmer with a few dozen old toothless ewes on a couple of acres, who owns a pair of collies. Twice per day an over laden busload of gullible yanks turn up at his gate to listen to his blarney about lambing in mid winter, and rescuing baby lambs from impossible ledges in the snowy distant hills, even though they are only worth tuppence each. Then, as his piece de resistance, with a loud whistle he commands his dogs to round the up the flock, and gather them into the shed, to rapturous applause. The fact that the sheep are as conditioned to this ritual as the tourists are to be robbed in broad daylight completely eludes their collective trans-atlantic brain cell as the whole party swoons with delight. All this entertainment for a meagre tenner per head, - eg a grand a day in Pat O’Malley’s arse pocket, probably in cash – bargain.
Forget fake tan, fake handbags or even fake orgasms, here comes the next pseudo-product to arrive in our shops - fake meat. Yes, the world’s first test-tube burger hit our streets a few weeks ago to much fanfare from the vegan fraternity, claiming that this ‘humanely’ produced mincemeat will save society from itself. Pioneered by Professor Post, an overzealous Dutch scientist, there are claims that genetically engineered fillet steaks could be grown in large buildings on banks of scaffolding, to feed the starving masses. Hoorah? Hmmm?
Well, firstly, one has to question the necessity for such production? It is here where his theory is as thin as a holstein cow. Apparently in a few years time we will be unable to feed ourselves with meat, because the cost of beef production will become too expensive. I have to say that from my standpoint in the agricultural corner this simply means that supply and demand should just push up the retail price. Eg, beef would become more expensive, so that the poor farmer can make some profit for once. If obese Americans are hell-bent on furring up their arteries with hourly quarter-pounders, then perhaps charging them more money for them may be the solution to a massive social problem. Let’s face it, if society didn’t demand the right to eat cheaply so that they can fritter away their earnings on caravan holidays in the Dordogne, le cheval would never have found its way into Tesco’s lasagne.
Secondly, in the same newspaper that Mr Veggie Reporter wrote this one sided argument, which includes such nonsense as – and I quote: ‘rearing animals for slaughter is a cruel practice’, there is another article on a different page condemning the use of genetically modified crops. Has anyone else woken up to the conflicting dispute here?
We are not allowed to improve our cropping system by use of modern science because that would mean fatcat farmers might make some cash, so let’s all take the moral high ground. But we could genetically manufacture fake meat which would inevitably put farmers out of business. Sounds to me like a win-win for the anti agricultural lobby. Come on farmers everywhere, stand up for yourselves and stamp this out before Frankenstein breaks out the ketchup!