The Vegan Cucumber Salad

It’s not easy being a vegan in a society that is besotted with meat eating. I know, because I  have been a vegan all afternoon.

You may laugh at this…and now would be a good time to start…but serious lifestyle choices can come upon us in a flash. Of course the flash may involve a couple of decades, but it pays to be patient. I didn’t like whiskey when I was five years old either, but that was a long while ago…

Being vegan can be a moral choice, a technical one, or a dietary one…or a combination of all three. In some cultures it is a religious practice. One should always respect the religions of others, even if one has no such feelings about one’s own. Indeed, it can be a lot easier to put up with strange foreign rituals than to put up with your own relatives.

As a new vegan I will concentrate on the business of minding what I eat. From what I read, this should take some little time every day. It seems that you need to hoover in a lot of stuff to get the same amount of internal energy that you used to get from a hamburger. And it may be gritty or slimy…but come to think of it, the burgers down at our local grease pit are pretty much that way any way. I have purchased a box of what very well may be muesli and will open it once I have the face mask and epipen. If I can master a Swiss breakfast I should be able to advance to salads.

The change in diet will not be without penalty. I have been reading about what fibre does to the body and have extrapolated that information to imagine what it will do to the plumbing. Fortunately we have a bucket, the neighbour has a fence, and it gets dark earlier in the evening. I knew he had a pool for some good reason.

” The Natives Consider This A Delicacy “

If ever you are presented with a dish by your host – whether that be a private person or a commercial restauranteur – and they use this phrase, remember one thing: the natives referred to are old and worn-out at 40. This may be due to the fact that they live in one of the most unhealthy parts of a disease-infested swamp…or it may be due to what they eat on festive occasions. You might be looking at Nature’s Little Population Control on a plate.

Don’t panic. If it smells yummy and you just have this craving for centipede eyeballs in white sauce…well dig in. Your slurps and smacks of delight will make you an honoured guest. Your hosts will think you the epitome of good manners and will search their cookbooks…and under their huts…for more recipes and ingredients to delight you. Bon appetit.

If, on the other hand, you are seized with the overpowering desire to run – and don’t wish to be doing it from both ends in the morning – you must be prepared with a plausible excuse to avoid the dish. Native societies do not respond to the idea of gluten or lactose intolerance. Your protest that it may contain traces of tree nuts will fall on deaf ears – 100% of their foods contain tree nuts, including the animal they cooked to present to you.

Allergies are unknown in the third world. They exist, of course, and sweep away the natives as readily as they might the visitors, but no-one knows why. Often the swelling, choking, and collapse are put down to evil spirits or malnutrition and they shovel more tree nuts in to counteract this.

But there is one thing that they all know – tabu. Whether things have been forbidden them by a prophet or a shaman – or just by long superstition – every population has some form of food law that prohibits something. They might be allowed to roast caterpillars but not hot dogs. They might be quite fond of hot dogs but have been banned from shellfish. The point is someone has said ” No ” from a pulpit or sacred rock and No it is. They understand this.

You must pull a ceremonial scarf, hat, or other non-controversial symbol from your coat pocket, put it on, and tell the host with great seriousness that it is tenet of your faith that the food may not be eaten. Be regretful but firm. They will understand completely, and it will vanish.

Be aware, however, that they may wish to placate your sensibilities by bringing out something worse. You can only trot out a tabu so many times before they begin to suspect.

The Handshake

I went to the barber this week and sat waiting for a free chair. It was a busy day and that meant about 15 minutes cooling my heels on the bench. The shop is one of a small chain throughout the city and the local branch is in my closest shopping centre. As I had nothing else pressing me more than the mop of unruly hair, I was quite happy to sit there.

I should have been happier had the barber shop kept better magazines to read. They had a rack full, but they were all publications about the hairdressing and barbering business. Very well produced, glossy and colourful, but totally uninteresting to anyone outside the trade. They were in a rack under the eye of the principal of the shop, but I guarantee none of them will ever be stolen…

But all was not gloom. When I went to the chair the barber introduced himself to me and offered his hand for a shake. This has never happened to me before in 71 years of having hair. We proceeded to the more mundane aspects of the business – what form of haircut, what number clippers, etc. I ordered one that left the ears intact but more or less razed the forest around them, and I am pleased to say that I got what I wanted.

When you are ” of an age ” your hair may not be what it once was. Unless you are Paderewsky or Einstein and sport a wild mane of distinguished white hair, the few tufts that push out amongst the increasingly bare patches start to look like rank growth, and the lower ranks at that. The comb-over is universally decried but equally almost universally tried. Each haircut is an agony of choice followed by the sort of expression that you get after a sheep is shorn. In some cases that tar is very hot…

I opted for a N0.2 all over followed by a N0. 1 at the sides. it is a Air Force haircut and would be equally at home on John Glenn or Mickey Spillane. I was frightened to look into the mirror but I’m actually quite pleased. And I shall remember the formula for the future – it was quick, simple, and done for $ 6 under the standard price. The wife has not collapsed into paroxysms of laughter so all is well.

My Head Does Not Hurt

My back, on the other hand, is a bitch this morning. Never pick up artillery shells without bending your knees.

Or, in my case, a cardboard box, a magazine, or a handful of feathers. It could have been any one of these that did the harm…or reaching up for a box of cornflakes on a high shelf. When it comes to backs, nothing is safe.

There are remedies, of course. Braces, Voltaren, hammering carpet tacks down the spine. All equally good. You can often alleviate the symptoms by dousing the affected part with rye whiskey from the inside. The back thing prevents you from changing the oil on your Volvo tractor, gardening, or sitting in hard church pews for 4 hours straight. But then normal good sense does this as well, and you aren’t curled up like a caterpillar for a week.

It is a passing complaint, and I’ll let it pass without afflicting it on too many others. The level of sympathy generally hovers between minuscule and zero and sometimes dips into the negative zone if the family think they can laugh at me unpunished. I don’t get upset at this – I just write it all down on my Revenge List and wait until they bend over and pick up a heavy laundry basket and let out that little yelp…

Fidel Gastro

This is an idea so cool that it needs to go viral. Or at least bacterial. Howzabout a pre-mixed pressure can of germs that can be purchased over the counter in any convenience store or chemist shop? With a fold-out nozzle like you get on a WD-40 can. Then you could spray a room or just one sandwich by merely flipping out the little red plastic tube.

We’re not talking plague here – or anthrax, smallpox, or Canadian politicians. This is just good old-fashioned gastro of the sit-on-the-pot-and-groan variety. Something you could pick up on public transport or at the library. Only instead of being a random occurrence, the BGA Butt Blaster Bug Bomb makes sure that the people who deserve to be ill are the ones who get to be.

Of course you’ll have to be responsible about its use. We make you sign a waiver at the counter stating that the BGA BBBB  will not be used on babies or the elderly. We’re not monsters, you know. But everyone else is fair game, particularly if they have a sense of humour. Or not, as the case may be. You’ll find out pretty soon.

If the product proves popular, we are thinking of introducing a commercial size suitable for fast food restaurants and large private schools.

Stinky Feet

” Stinky Feet! Getcha Stinky Feet Here! Fresh and hot to trot! Stinky Feet! ”

And we got ’em to fit all sizes. Now you can get all the privacy you want in the house by just removing your shoes and putting your feet up. When people begin to leave you’ll know you’re on the right track and when they dive out unopened windows you’ll know you’re really cooking…mostly with gas.

You may wonder why I know this. A pair of sandals gave rise to the speculation. I am not normally interested in my pedal extremities – being content when they both reach the floor at the same time – but recently they called themselves to my attention. Also they caught the attention of others in the room. How embarrass.

I have soaked the offending portions in a bucket of hot Dettol and scrubbed the sandals out with a similar detergent mix. The shoes are now baking in the sun. If the problem returns they will be baking on the tip.

One thing that a good old fashioned bath was useful for was soaking away this sort of noxious effluvia. Now that we stand in a shower it seems that we don’t really get rid of the problem as surely. Time to get out the epsom salts and the foot bath. It has a massage motor in it so that’s a good thing too.

Note: I have no objection to being That Stinky Old Dude, but I prefer to do it with pizza and  beer spilled down my shirt front.

The Local Holiday – Part Three

Review yesterday’s reflections on why people travel for their holidays before we go on.  And then consider why staying at home may meet all your needs.

a.  You wanted a change of scenery. There are new sights to see within a mile of your easy chair. You can go to them on a bus or train ( for free if you’re old enough ). You can walk to them in some cases. I’ll bet few of the readers have been to all four corners of their respective towns. Who knows what sights are to be seen there – I rode a local bus through what I thought would be familiar suburbs and found that the town has changed into a new place. And I was not riding some death-bus full of grinning bandits into unknown peril, at $ 10,000 a go.

b. You wanted a change of weather – this really amounts to wanting cool when it is hot and warmth when it is cold. Or dry when it is raining. Got news for you – Cool comes out of air conditioners – if you have one, use it. If you don’t, go to a mall that does.

Same thing when it is cold. Sit in front of the fire or go to a warm café. Libraries are warm and quiet and they have free entertainment for all ages. They also have seats and let you sit there reading all day if you wish.

Weather will eventually change anyway – in Melbourne, four times per day. Just be patient.

c. You wanted new food and drink. Oh, please…there are more restaurants in your town than ever you have eaten at. And more bars, pubs, taverns, etc. for exotic drinks. You cannot eat or drink more than a certain amount in any one day and all you have to do is go into a new joint and sample their menu. Most Australian cities have more ethnic variety in their eateries than any of the countries that they emulate. Where exactly is Generia , anyway? Their cuisine seems familiar, if bland.

d. New people? Go to a new pub, club, mall, church or temple, and look around. Go clean, friendly, and polite and you’ll meet people you want to meet. Every newspaper and radio station advertises groups looking for new members every day.

e. Duty Free? Really? Is it really a good idea to pay $ 10,000 in holiday money to come back with a giant half-price bottle of Johnny Walker? You could go to the local Dan Murphy and whack down $ 100 and come away with all the whiskey you can handle. A queasy liver at 1/100th of the cost.

f. Relaxation? If your idea of relaxation is sitting on a beach getting skin cancer, you can do that at Cottesloe or Swanbourne. If you want to break your arm surfing, Margaret River is just three hours away. If you want shows and movies, there are plenty going on every day right here at home.

If relaxation for you is sitting in a café, there are a number of districts here that want your dollar.

g. Peace and quiet. This is the best news of all. You can get this in your lounge room for just a few dollars. Here’s what you do:

  1. Clean the house. Not a major campaign – just a day’s tidying. Sets the scene.
  2. Get in a week’s worth of ready-to-cook meals or a handful of local restaurant menus.
  3. Get a carton of beer or cola or whatever. Or a few bottles of the local vin ordinaire.
  4. Get an armload of new books from the library or book shop.
  5. Put on your holiday clothes – loose ones.
  6. Unplug the land line phone.
  7. Put the mobile phone under two pillows.
  8. Turn on the air conditioner and make yourself comfortable.
  9. Watch TV, read, practice your hobby, write letters or postcards, sit and think, nap, or eat and drink. All week, if you wish. Go to bed as early or late as you please.

Amazing how good it feels, isn’t it? And you are not dependent upon airport transfers, bell hops, tour guides, airline schedules, or any other travel hazard. You will not be stranded anywhere, as your bed is a room away. You are near your medical base. You can ring out for food if desired and ring friends to invite them to share it. You can binge watch on telly. You can be as vacant as you wish.

You can write internet weblog columns undisturbed.