I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life. When I tell some people this they are surprised and I get comments like, ‘what, you’ve never had meat?’, ‘haven’t you ever wanted to try it?’, ‘Never?’ – you get the picture. Well, let me put it this way, when I went to school I found out that, Horror!, people ate animals, I was stunned. It was so inconceivable to me I felt sure something had gone wrong with the world. Basically, the dinner lady tried to get me to eat this weird food and another dinner lady explained about my diet. I went home and asked my mum what the deal was with sausages. When I had been enlightened I duly went back to school the next day and asked all the children why they would eat the fluffy bunnies, lambs, kittens (I didn’t realise cats, dogs and horses were exempt) and little chick-chicks. The children were in tears and I was told off. To this day I don’t really understand why.
Well, many years later I was at school in a cookery lesson (now called Food Tech) and we were offered the left over sarnies from a meeting. They looked very tempting to us and I tried what I thought was a plain butter sandwich. It turned out to be fish paste and, having taken a small bite, I ruined the rest of the platter by throwing up all over it. Disgusting, I know; you can bet I was not popular that day. In hindsight I was incredibly lucky not to be given a nickname! Then, in the sixth form, I was stupid enough to get involved in a heavy discussion where I was cornered with the stupid non-argument of, ‘you can’t have an opinion if you’ve never tried it,’ and took a tiny bit of a ham sandwich. It was extremely salty and tasted nasty. I spat it out (unfortunately not into the instigator’s lap), but now feel forever sullied. Not because of the sandwich but because I was dumb enough to fall for such a pathetic line.
So yes, I have tried meat, even if it never went further than my mouth, but I stick to my original statement that I have always been a vegetarian. Yet, I am always being offered fish because apparently it’s not meat and ‘our friend’s a vegetarian and eats meat.’ Newsflash: vegetarians that eat fish are NOT vegetarian. I have heard of them being referred to as vegequarians or pescarians, either of which is preferable. My mother-in-law delights in offering me chicken which she insists is vegetarian as it has been corn-fed. Twenty-odd years on it still makes her laugh.
Of course, the next argument is, ‘why do you wear leather shoes.’ I admit I have no valid excuse for this except I was brought up wearing leather shoes and when I tried to go plastic/rubber my feet nearly rotted away. In hotter climates it is perfectly fine to go around in rubber slippers but in the UK where it is freezing cold and wet a little more protection is required. I convince myself that as the animal didn’t die for the leather I’m just making sure its death was not in vain. Sort of organ donation, if you will. Completely illogical and yet, in a twisted way, makes a teeny bit of sense (more of a faint smudge). As I said, as an argument it isn’t really valid and would never hold up in court.
Why am I talking about this? Because I’ve fallen in love…with an armchair. A leather armchair. Leather shoes to stop my feet rotting are one thing, but a blood-red leather armchair – well it’s not really necessary is it? I don’t strictly need an armchair. Even if I did it doesn’t have to be in leather as there is no risk of my bum rotting away (actually there may be but that’s a whole other story), and the climate doesn’t really require anything other than something that can be easily cleaned. But it is a beautiful armchair, with curved wings, a deliciously plump seat deep enough to curl up in and wide padded arms at the perfect height. I see it every day as I drive pass the upholsterers, sitting there so seductively and beckoning me in. I have been inside and sat on it..several times. It is luxurious and hideously expensive, but so lovely. I know now that I am middle-aged, drooling over an armchair rather than the knee-high boots in Clarks’ windows. Which are also made of leather…