On New Year’s Eve my husband and I joined our friends for a meal and drinks across the road from where we live. (When I say ‘road’ I do of course mean that our friends own the house there; we didn’t just decide to hold the dinner party on the pavement opposite my forecourt.) Whilst there, and during a discussion about vegetarianism, the subject of chickens came up. Specifically, the subject of facial meat. (If you are of a queasy disposition then I advise you skip the following paragraph.)
It transpired during our conversation that Andy (a friend of our friends) had once bitten into a chicken pie, only to be confronted, orally, with something that appeared not to be chicken. Or at least, not one of the bits of a chicken that you would generally consume. To be precise, he bit into a whole chicken skull. In his pie. In his mouth. Urgh.
Upon realising what he had chomped into, Andy wisely – as would the average consumer upon finding skeletal remains in their lunch – wrote to the supermarket from whence his pie came. Rather than receiving vouchers or grovels of apology (the very least I’d bloody expect after that grisly experience), Andy got a letter through the post, which stated very clearly that there is apparently always a risk when munching a food item that contains meat because of … brace yourselves … that’s right – the mechanical extraction of facial meat. Eeeeeeew!!! What a sentence – what a thought! As you will know Dear Reader, I myself am the proud co-owner (have to stress ‘co’ else the husband gets cross) of the delightful chickens that are Barbara and Peggy, and I am therefore well qualified to let you also know that there ain’t much in the way of facial meat to be found on a chicken. Aside from its bone structure, and assuming that your chicken is not a mutant hybrid that has been cross-bred with Godzilla on steroids, then it’s a pretty small face we’re talking about here. It merely goes to show that when we imagine the making of a pie or similar, we think of plump juicy pieces of chicken breast, cooked tenderly and added to the other ingredients. What we do not imagine is the scraping and scratching and digging, via machine, of tiny little shreds of facial carcass, all squished together and marketed by the money-grabbing supermarkets and global pie companies as ‘lunch’. Shudder.
It is because of more knowledge of issues such as these, as well as having to admit that I am now physically older than 18 (though never mentally past 12), that over the last two years I’ve radically changed lifestyle. My diet was never diabolical, but now it is almost entirely unprocessed and involves much in the way of good fats. I shunned fats of any kind for years after the 90’s propaganda of ‘low fat’ this that and the other, but since finding out that the majority of low fat products, such as yogurts and so on, are full of chemicals and sugar to make up for the lack of taste caused by the loss (mechanically extracted no doubt!) of fats, I avoid all forms of ‘diet’ food. Instead, I now gobble good fats, partly due to my own facial meat – now there’s a lovely expression that’ll be sweeping the nation once this blog is published I’m sure. It is said that after a certain age, a woman has to choose between her arse (size of) and her face (wrinkles of). And it’s true: fat don’t crack. You need a healthy toned body with enough fat to keep your cheeks plumped out: let them lose weight and that’s it. Jowls begin, saggy long lines start to stretch from eye to jaw when you smile, and your neck starts to shrivel like testicle-skin. Pretty.
It was with this in mind that myself and my James Duigan-inspired diet (Clean and Lean: not rocket science but genius nevertheless) pedalled off into Southsea today in search of something to make me feel less ‘insidey’. This is a phrase coined by my mate Emma (hostess with the mostess of the New Year party) to describe the post-Chrimbo hibernation sensation. We’ve all been locked indoors like shivering, alcohol-swigging, stodge-stuffing squirrels (suspect those rodents don’t drink booze but bear with, bear with – couldn’t think of another hibernating creature at short notice), only to emerge from our homey-hobbit-holes in the new year, blinking like anaemic moles, stumbling into the grey, thinning half-light of January. (Emma, by the way, does not look insidey. She looks like she’s just stepped off of a yacht in the sunshine; I look as though I’ve just escaped from Azkaban prison, only minus the look of sheer relief that would presumably follow such endeavours.)
After 5 days (since the schools went back) of Clean and Leanness, including much green tea, lack of coffee, 3 x alcohol free days, 2 x decent cycles, 2 x decent swims, I awoke (loosest sense of the term) this morning barely able to lift my head out from beneath the duvet. I fear that even if I had been sharing the duvet with Colin (our ludicrously-named, not by us, dog), who is unashamedly flatulent, I still would not have wished to exit the bed area, such was my exhaustion – and general insideyness. When finally I swung a creaky leg out of the bed (don’t get me started on the dodgy leg; still awaiting MRI, still unable to run), I peered in the bathroom mirror, and decided that enough was enough. Help was needed. Cue: Budd’s Herbal Apothecary.
As soon as my youngest was safely ensconced in pre-school, off I pedalled down to Southsea, first stop the Garage Lounge. I had seen earlier in the week that the gorgeously eclectic and chilled Garage Lounge is now stocking some of Budd’s herbal teas, but I had already supped a caffeine-free americano, so today was the day to try the Ginseng and Liquorice that I’d had my eye on. One of the fab ladies who works there stood with me, sniffing the jars of shredded herbs and leaves, as I made my choice. And I can confirm: yum. Very light, very mild and refreshing. I’ve shopped in Budd’s before when Wendy, the lovely owner, made me a bespoke face cream late last year. Having been very pleased with the cream (mixed in front of you, to your specifications after a consultation about your skin, for the absolute bargain of £8!!) I thought that discussing the insidey situation would be a good plan – and I was right.
The apothecary is a beautiful shop, very traditional, and a treat to be inside. Wendy is a walking advertisement for her products (twinkly-eyed, youthful, cheerful and chatty) and that alone is enough to convince me that the banishment of my insideyness is possible. So, after a chat and a description of my lethargy, bleurgh-ness, and all-round wish to hibernate, I am now the recipient of one tea (mate and marshmallow), and one tincture (schisandra). The latter has a fab reputation as an adaptable herb, in that if you take it in the morning it can help to give you a little oomph, and if you take it when you’re stressed it can help to give you a little aaaah. The mate (pronounced mah-tey) can give the boost of coffee, but without the horrid jitters, and can also benefit weight loss, skin, anti-stress, as well as having antioxidant properties. Bring it on I say!
I shall report back in a fortnight on the success or otherwise of Mission: Banish Insideyness, and if you too Dear Reader are on such a mission, then I should love to hear about it! You can contact me at either of the following email addresses, or via facebook, and I’ll be happy to mention you and your insideyness (hopefully lack of!) and/or any tips that you may have, in the follow-up to this blog. If all else fails, then I’m off to take up pole-dancing (for exercise, not wages), which I hear is a fabulous all-round toner. After the previous experience of the Doctor and the Thong though (see earlier blog), I am not sure that I could bear to.