Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Finding cheeses may be good for your soul, but not your digestion.

If you are of a sensitive disposition, please read no further. Just knowing what I am about to write about makes me feel quite queasy.

However, I do feel it my civic duty to offer this warning to any Brits abroad, not least my brother-in-law and his wife who are currently in Greece and living on a diet largely composed of local cheese.

They are there to be with their oldest boy, who is recovering from a nasty accident out there, so they have all been very much in our thoughts over the past week or so. Having watched last night’s episode of “The F Word” I felt particularly compelled to get this warning to them.

The show featured a local Sardinian ‘delicacy’ – billed as the most dangerous cheese in the world. Made in the traditional way, the sheeps cheese is matured and then the crust is broken and it is left in a dank barn. Here, it attracts flies that have presumably got a bit bored with treading around in cow dung and come to cheeseland for a bit of a holiday. While they’re there they lay their eggs and in a few weeks, the cheese is teaming with maggots. Apparently it’s the little critters’ excrement that gives the cheese its ‘distinctive’ flavour.

Now, call me a fuddy-duddy, but what the hell is that about. I’m as partial as the next man to a spot of mouldy stilton, but I use a ruler and a fat black felt tip when it comes to drawing a line at spreading rotting, maggot-infested cheese on my digestives. I don’t remember it being

“Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her tuffet
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider
And sat down beside her
Attracted by the smell of maggots on her breath.”

I mean, if that’s a delicacy, I could empty my wheely-bin each week and set up a bloody deli-bar. If I run short of rotting scraps I can scrape up some road-kill.

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. So for goodness sake, be careful if you are offered any local specialities – remember, ‘tasty grub’ might be more than you bargained for.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Gonna have to face it you're a dick-head..."

After a weekend in which I almost made my young nephew throw up by proudly showing him evidence that “my rolls of tummy fat are bigger than your dads”, and having been offered the use of my wife’s bra to hold my man-wahoolies, I figured it was time for a concerted effort at the gym.

Apart from burning a few calories, I often find it a good place to think about things. This morning I was thinking about whether to go to a school reunion later this year to meet up with a bunch of people I haven’t seen since 1985. In a bizarre twist of fate, I found myself mulling this over when I noticed that the CD playing in the gym was an 80s collection. A few seconds of The Housemartins’ ‘Happy Hour’ and I was transported back to the sweaty school hall disco – oh those heady days when we took real coke (none of this diet stuff), and only danced with members of the same sex. Lets’ face it, there was little point in trying to tap off with a girl after 3 packets of pickled onion Monster Munch.

Then came Tears For Fears – “Everybody wants to..” be as fit as the good looking one, but most of us turned out like the ugly one. Thing is, if I do go, I won’t have a clue what people have turned out like. If they politely say “oh, you’ve hardly changed” I’ll know they’re lying but won’t really be able to get away with returning the compliment. “You’ve lost a lot of facial features” probably wouldn’t go down very well.

Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” brought me back to reality. I’ve never been working out when that record has been playing before and I have to say it made me feel a bit of a wahooly. I don’t know about Rocky, but I did feel a bit unsteady when I got off the exercise bike.

It was a relief when this was followed by Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”. For a moment, as I pounded the treadmill, I have to admit to indulging in a little fantasy whereby all the sweaty porkers in the gym turned out to be 6ft stunners and stopped exercising, picked up guitars, and in a Dennis Potteresque moment, danced around me.

Feeling my breathing getting a little stronger than it should have been, I didn’t follow this fantasy through to its rightful conclusion and was glad when Big Country’s “In a Big Country” came on. One of my favourite bands at school, but it also reminded me that this is a big country and I now live at the opposite end of it from where the reunion is taking place. 350 miles is a long way to go to satisfy your curiosity.