Ooh la la, a lesbian you say.

Five months ago I became a vegetarian. I can hear your applause from here. Thank you. No worries, I did it for humanity, for the planet. It’s been a nightmare.

Becoming vegetarian in France is harder than announcing you’re gay I’ve discovered. If I had become gay here in Paris, I would have heard genuine rapturous ‘real-life’ applause. “Bravo old chap, chapeau” they would say. Offers of marriage would have been legion, metro stations named after me. Ooh la la, they would continue, Dominic has become gay, ooh la la. However, I didn’t tell people I had become gay, I said I was a vegetarian. That’s a whole different thing here. That’s a little like telling people that your second favourite past time involves hamsters and lubricants. That’s what I really did when I announced I was a vegetarian, I admitted that I felched with small furry rodents.

This was a monstrous surprise to me. I was well aware that if it moves, the French will eat it. The once famous but now almost extinct Ortolan Bunting – cooked whole and eaten in one crunchy gooey mouthful – nearly extinct don’t forget. If you wish to eat a calf’s head, eyeballs and cute little squidgy nose and all, well they have just the dish for you – Tete de Veau. So their penchant for protein is like my need for air.

But with this comes a violence of language that I have rarely endured before. “What fly bit you?” said one, “Are you ill, is it cancer?” enquired another. “There are no moral or ethical justifications, go home strange English man” say the rest. I kid you not. I have received abuse on an unimaginable scale. And to make it even more weird, I have two friends who have quietly admitted to me that they are also vegetarian. But not for ethical reasons, merely because they don’t like meat. They say, “I honestly don’t care if a baby cow has a bolt fired through its brain, I don’t give a merde.” So even the vegetarians don’t give a shit about the planet. There was a report earlier this year that 30% of all birds in France have disappeared this past fifteen years, but question the French on this, and they just tuck in a napkin, lick their lips and request another plucked passerine for breakfast, pass the sauce please.

And just this week, Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, was either ignored or mocked by an assembly of French ministers as she spoke of the perils to come. And those were just the ones who could be bothered to attend. Most boycotted the whole event on idealogical grounds.

A few years back, I was living in some far away land, and one evening, the local man that I lived with reminisced, that back in the 1970’s, he and his friends would drive in their 4 x 4’s up into the mountains, pitch their tents by the rich glacial streams, and spend the weekend hunting antelope. “Wonderful days,” he said, “the best of days”. He was almost in tears recounting this to me. And then, with this kind of crushed nostalgic, whimsical look on his face, he said, “You can’t do that anymore, sadly, they’re all dead now”. “No shit Sherlock” I replied, “You and your buddies bloody shot them all”. He looked stunned by my synopsis. He took an actual step back. Somehow he could not make the connection between his actions and the eventual despoiling of his local flora and fauna. And that, as far as I have worked out, is how the French think.

So, now when people say, “Hey Dominic, I hear you have some exciting news, do tell”, I tell them I’ve become a lesbian. “Ooh la la” they gush.

It seems to work.

© Dominic Penhale | All Rights Reserved

The Day after Tomorrow but Warmer

I was thinking about the world last night, or what’s left of it anyway. It feels that ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ is finally here, except it’s going to be stiflingly hot, with a lot less skiing and tobogganing.

In my imaginary musings, we all surround the residencies of those in power who have been so hell bent on winning the next election, and feathering their own gilded beds, that they’ve done nothing about this civilization-ending calamity we are facing. Better still, I was the leader of the uprising and I had drawn up a list of people far and wide who were culpable, and I had formed a lynch squad to eradicate them; one-by-one, publicly, on my own 24 hour news channel. Many of these figures were historical, people from back in the day, who had got away with genocide or some other grevious crime the first time around, but they couldn’t resist my irresistable force now. And  when word got out that we were coming to get them, to hold them responsible for all of their misdemeanours against this planet, they all began to shit themselves. We were that powerful.

I didn’t limit myself to the obvious list. I did included Rumsfeld and Cheney and their Neo-Con cohorts. Blair was a slam dunk; a manipulative sociopathic snake who had been getting away with evil for ever (Special Envoy to the Middle East – are you having a huge laugh in the face of a million dead muslims). George Dubya Junior, of course. We had to send an interpreter to explain to him what we were going to do, and it still took a little while for the penny to drop (not the sharpest) – he was soaking in a bath of crude oil when we arrived, sticking dollar bills to his tiny cock, but we finally got the message through. “We’ll be back for you tomorrow” my interpreter told him.

‘The List’, as we called it was long, extensive and thorough, including surprise entries such as Elon Musk, who was included simply for building spaceships to colonise other worlds – what treason to imagine that he could escape this pale blue dot, and leave us to our hunger and our thirst. Jeff Bezos was on it too, less so for space, more for the implementation of robotics and the destruction of human rights.

The funny thing, and the thing that made us all laugh so much was this; many of these despots of democracy were commander-in-chief of legitimate armies, the instruments of state, their own personal playthings. Throughout history, leader after leader had been able to call upon them to defend their own ill-doings. But the world had changed, everywhere people were dying in the heat and the drought, the putrefying water and the rise of the disease. Corpses thronged the streets as the rubbish piled high. Army leaders didn’t much care for Trump and Johnson when they were busy burying their own children. They were ‘our’ army now – all of them. Ours.

Of course in no time at all we took control of the news media, so Fox went in a flash of exploding methane, along with most others. We ended up with just two channels – ‘The People’s Channel’ where all the public executions took place (very popular particularly amongst minorities), and ‘The Remembrance Channel’, where citizens watched ‘looped’ documentaries about the last Polar Bear, or the toxic death of Lake Michigan, or other such indefensible tragedies. This was our real weapon, the propaganda machine of all machines. Long gone were endless replays of ‘Wolf on Wall Street’ and other capitalist dogma – we replaced that with an even tougher brand of control. It was the perfect parallel, the death of the old regime on channel one, and ‘this is what you fucked up’ on channel two. It said very, very clearly, ‘Don’t ever ever destroy this planet again in the pursuit of the dollar – not on my watch anyway’.

So, that’s what I was musing about as I tucked into my lentil dahl and onion bhaji last night. You?

© Dominic Penhale | All Rights Reserved