Friday 13 January 2012

You Are What You Eat III

Middle-class Upwards all go on the January detox because we all drink and eat too much in December – don’t we? But it’s not enough to give up drink – they insist on going on very exclusive diets. Exclusive as in “excluding most food groups”. They spend January munching a mixture of swedes, lentils and pumpkin seeds washed down with spring water, which makes them miserable and depressed. They keep falling off the wagon and eating chocolate biscuits washed down with chardonnay but their spirit, their self-image and their reputation have had a massive hit of Puritanism and they’ve had the fun of boring on (and on, and on and ON) about it and even writing articles about it in the broadsheets. They don't really like self-denial, but they love the attention-seeking. (But isn't it just what we used to call a "slimming diet"?)

Sam still suffers a faint twinge of Puritanism when she hears or reads of somewhere being a holiday destination because of its “great restaurants”. She knows we’ve moved on from “food is just fuel for the body”, and plain boiled cabbage, potatoes and cold mutton, but… visiting somewhere just for the food? Are we allowed to do that? Even though we fuss about food 25% of the time? (That may be a junk statistic.)

Upwards also shudder at the American use of “restaurant” to mean a fast-food joint. You dress up to go to a restaurant, and expect to find polite waiters who treat you like members of the aristocracy, velvet-covered chairs, linen napkins and French food. Otherwise you specify the country of origin. You expect Italian and Greek places to be cheaper and more relaxed, but they’re still restaurants. Chinese restaurants are quite downmarket unless you go for a region, like Szechuan Cuisine (this may be rather 80s). Upwards and Weybridges haven’t quite got to grips with Japanese restaurants - there may not be any in Winchester – but Teales are game. They’ve come a long way since they regarded pizza and paella with suspicion in the 70s.

Upwards also wince whenever an acquaintance says they have “given up dairy”. It’s “dairy products” - but you can’t say that either, because only someone trying to sell you something would use the word “product”. Falling for silly diets is a middle class thing – they can afford the expensive nutritionist who tells all his clients to give up dairy, gluten and relatives of the deadly nightshade. (It used to be leavened bread and alcohol, as all clients were diagnosed with candidiasis. Next year, who knows?)

Doctors recently advised us to drink moderately, eat sensibly and exercise all year round - but where's the fun in that?

Part One here.
Part Two here.

Monday 2 January 2012

Conformists, Nonconformists and...

In the early 60s, Mad Magazine could read us like a book. Only a few details have changed. Hummingbird on toast, anyone?

According to Psychologists, most of us clods prefer to follow the “herd instinct” – that is, we prefer to think look and act alike – which makes us CONFORMISTS!

Now and then, however, a few clods with imagination break away from the “herd” – and try hard to think, look and act different – which makes them all NON-CONFORMISTS!

Only nowadays, more and more clods are trying to be different, so there are more and more NON-CONFORMISTS. And all these NON CONFORMISTS are so busy CONFORMING to not being CONFORMISTS they all wind up CONFORMING to their NON CONFORMISM!

All except for a small group of bravely idiotic MAD readers – to whom this article is dedicated – mainly because, in this article, we explain in nauseating detail…


ORDINARY CONFORMISTS raise parakeets, cocker spaniels, boxers, collies, turtles, snakes, cats, white mice, snakes and tropical fish.

ORDINARY NON-CONFORMISTS raise Russian wolfhounds, French poodles, Weimaraners, ocelots, minks, deodorized skunks and rhesus monkeys.

MAD NON-CONFORMISTS raise ant colonies, anteaters, falcons, leeches, octopi, anchovies, water buffaloes and performing fleas.

ORDINARY CONFORMISTS go in for uninspired Technicolor musicals, stories with happy endings, migraine-provoking Cinemascope, and 6 1/2-hour double features that destroy the eyes, ears, nose, and spine.

ORDINARY NON-CONFORMISTS patronize stuffy out-of-the-way movie houses that show "experimental" films, arty-type films, documentaries, and obscure foreign language pictures with the sub-titles in pidgin Swahili.

MAD NON-CONFORMISTS enjoy hand-cranked penny arcade machines which contain film classics like the Dempsey-Firpo fight, Sally Rand's Fan Dance, old Ben Turpin comedies, and Tom Mix pre-adult westerns.

ORDINARY CONFORMISTS insipid show scores, dismal pop tunes conducted by Jackie Gleason, sickening dance music by Guy Lombardo, rock n’ roll hits by Ricky and Elvis, and occasional works of Gershwin and Tchaikovsky on complicated hi-fi sets.

ORDINARY NON-CONFORMISTS obscure folk songs sung by obscure folk, dull chamber music played in dull chambers, Wagnerian operas in their entirety, Gregorian chants, and readings of minor Welsh poets on super-complicated hi-fi sets.

MAD NON-CONFORMISTS bird calls, tap dancing and exercise lessons, transcriptions of Senate Committee hearings, Gallagher and Shean, The Singing Lady, and theme music from famous monster movies on easy-to-operate hand-wound victrolas.

…wear narrow-shouldered charcoal-grey Ivy league Suits, button-down shirts with tight collars, silly caps, cramped Italian style shoes. Females wear Empire dresses and shoes with spike heels that constantly break off.

…wear sloppy-looking sweatshirts, grimy blue jeans, arch-crippling sandals, and scratchy beards. Among the females of this group, leotards are usually substituted for blue jeans, and the scratchy beards are optional.

…wear smart-looking MAD straitjackets, glamorous opera capes, roomy knickers, comfortable Keds, and light-weight pith helmets which offer good protection in bad weather and provide storage space for day’s lichee nuts.

… waste their time reading banal best sellers, trashy whodunits, dull popular magazines, sensational daily newspapers and commuter timetables.

…go for childish science fiction novels and scientific magazines, arty paperbacks, boring literary journals, and anthologies of avant-garde poetry.

….read The roller Derby news, the pre-Civil War congressional Record, old Tom Swift books, and back copies of classfied telephone directories.

…prefer meals like on menu below:

Sam’s Chop House
tomato juice
celery and olives
vegetable soup
sirloin steak
green peas and carrots
French fried potatoes
hearts of lettuce salad
apple pie a la mode

…prefer meals like on menu below:

Kerouac’s coffee shop
beef Bourguignon
wild rice
pommes de terre souffl├ęs
hearts of artichoke salad
Camembert cheese
caffe expresso

…prefer meals like on menu below:

hummingbird tongues on toast
kippered guppy
puree of electric eel
flamingo under glass
creamed crab grass
sweet potato chips
hearts of cactus salad
licorice sherbert

You can see the original with the pictures here.