Stand up by Barbara Nadel

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For years I’ve been tormented by the notion that I might be able to do stand up comedy. I have no reason to believe I’d be any good. But then I’ve never actually tried going to an open mic night at a comedy club in order to find out. I tell myself I have no time, the truth is that I’m totally chicken. Occasionally however I become tormented by some imaginary ‘routine’, always in the middle of the night, which haunts and distorts my sleep. Just such a thing happened last night. I call it ‘Riffing on Food’. I’m doing it on paper and sitting down like all cowardly comics.

Television is all about food these days. We’ve got ‘Masterchef’, ‘Come dine with Me’, Jamie Oliver telling us we’ll all die if we don’t stop eating chips with curry sauce and of course Heston Blumenthal making Elizabethan Beef Wellington out of a dead gnu, an electric blanket, a gun and the head of Alfredo Garcia. And even when it’s not on the TV everyone talks about food all the time. Gossip amongst yummy mummies at the school gates can go something like:

Mum 1: So, what’s the plan for tonight then?

Mum 2: Well I thought we’d start with seared scallops in a champagne jus, followed by slow roasted belly of pork on pot herbs and then finish with a strawberry ganache enrobed in Belgian chocolate.

Lovely, and how different from when I was a punky mummy back in the 1980s. Then ‘the plan’ was usually to get the baby sitter in and get down the pub with a mate as quickly as possible. Sink four pints of bitter and smoke twenty fags straight off and then pause briefly for some salt and vinegar crisps before getting into an argument with some National Front moron. After rescuing my friend from the clutches of several pissed and randy squaddies I’d then repair to the off licence for some cheap red wine in a plastic bottle. Then home James, via the chip shop, new romantic big haired people on the telly and unconsciousness. What was not to like about that jus and ganache free experience?

I think that all of this food business has come about because nobody smokes any more. Deep down everybody is annoyed and resentful because they can’t have a tab. So in order to make up for it they just MUST have chocolate flavoured knickers with home made custard, rats arse stuffed with quail or tapir placenta with marmite. It’s obscene! It’s childish pique! No wonder everyone west of Baghdad is so fat. Great tubs of blubber panting away in the gym (because it is good and because Madonna does it) can barely make it to the high street to actually buy their buffalo mozzarella themselves! In years to come when all the oil runs out and we haven’t got any electricity, someone is going to resurrect the sedan chair and really clean up because of these foodies. Of course the chairs will have to be quite wide and will have to come with their own champagne mini-bar and olive oil drizzled canapés, but it will be a nice little earner, trust me.

I know that in a way I am just as bad with my complete disregard for ‘good’ food. My love of Bournville plain chocolate, fags and chemicals will catch up with me in the end. But at least the poor undertakers boys will be able to carry my coffin. When I go into hospital to have a limb removed they won’t have to put me on a specially constructed supersize operating table. I will never suffer the indignity of having my dinner party ruined by a failed chocolate fondant. There will be no dinner parties, there will be no experimentation with calves liver and gold ingots. I am never going to be a foodie and as far as I am concerned Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey and the rest of them can deliver their tough love message about food until the end of time. I am never going to eat curly kale. You can dress it in a crinoline and call it Mary, but it’s not for me and I’d rather give birth to punch bowls than put it in my mouth.

Then, as they say in fairy stories, I woke up. There was no more. The midnight theoretical comic had left the building to midnight theoretical thunderous applause. What utter lunacy.

Don’t worry, I won’t give up the day job.

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