Thursday 23 April 2009

Consolidation - a revolution in farts

As I'm sure you are all aware, whoever smelt it, dealt it. Whoever made the rhyme also committed the crime. However, far from this being a solipsistic post of auto-accusation regarding trumps, I confidently predict that this will be the beginning of a new era for human society. I will probably receive no credit for this, but I will know where the responsibility for this global revolution will lie and sate myself with this knowledge.

Before society collapsed and we all had to resort to trading in bark and pebbles, television was full of adverts for companies who would consolidate all of a person's individual debts into one handy, massive, monthly repayment. These days are now past, but the idea will live on. In your trousers.

The average human being produces about half a litre of gas a day, the internet helpfully informs me. It goes on to add that this is, on average, spaced out into 14 handy-sized farts. Some lucky individuals may achieve thirty or more farts a day, depending on diet, activity level and natural wit. I'm sure the more intelligent amongst you have already guessed where I am going with this, but, here's my idea. Fart consolidation. Every human being in the world will have their daily outgoings pooled into one huge, loud, smelly fart, to be done once a day. Crucially, this will be at the same time every day for everyone.

This will have two major effects. Firstly, hilarity. Imagine the sound and the smell. Once a day, the whole world would trill to the tremulous rumblings of 3 billion litres of bottom air. It would be like living next to an olden day factory when the lunch horn went off. A factory which perhaps dealt solely in the manufacture of egg salads. It would blow snow off high peaks, alter weather patterns and scare the cows. A display of unity from an otherwise disparate world. Far be it from me to suggest that everybody doing one big fart at the same time as each other would help us towards world peace, but, it would.

This theme of togetherness is continued in the second key effect. The fact the whole world tipped their hat at the same time would remove the stigma of the smelly fart. Instead of the laughter, the accusation and the pointing, human beings would instead simply embrace and congratulate one another on the wonderful malodour they had together created in a great stink tapestry.

Obviously, and as with any major social revolution, concessions will have to be made in other areas as life as we currently know it. But when we set out to break down paradigms, that is only to be expected. I fully anticipate that manufacturers of lifts, scented candles and cigarette lighters will do their best to resist these changes, whilst the people who make wallpaper, underpants and pomanders will be rushed off their feet. But this is a step for which humanity is ready. The economic model has proven itself to be too flawed to alone be a blueprint for existence. This humanistic and repugnantly accrid act will be human beings stood side-by-side, reclaiming the world for themselves and gassing half the pigeons. Let us start tomorrow. Hold in your farts. You have nothing to lose but your dignity.

Friday 10 April 2009

Cat food - the verdict is finally in

This is Charlie. He is my cat. Charlie is 15 years old and, like anyone of his advanced years, has manky teeth. Last summer, the vet had to take half of them away.

Since then he's done battle with food, which is easily his favourite thing in the world regardless. He has suffered through sore mouth and sore gums, as well as putting us through that classic old feline standby, "I'm not eating that shit".

Quixotic even before this mouth jamboree went down, the past 8 months have seen us trying to strategically plan his meals to ensure he will eat his food. As such, I am now as expert as you can possibly be about cat food without eating the stuff. Although I did once eat a Whiskas kibble. Bone-shaped. Very bland. Don't judge me.

Anyway, here it is. Forget what the adverts tell you, this is now the final assessment of the cat food available in high-street stores across the land, written with the help of that festering, hairy, stinky tub of lard up there.


Very much still the market leader. Eight out of ten cats, they used to say, prefer it. Statistics prove nothing for individual cases, of course, so let's get down to brass tacks. The first thing to say about Whiskas is that it comes in a dizzying array of sizes, shapes, textures and flavours. The makers are clearly hyper-aware of their demographic, as cats are picky little bastards. So, let's break it down (with a fork):

Whiskas tins (chunks in jelly)
These vast monoliths were, until the invention of the tin opener, worshipped by primitive man. Upon the invention of that vital trinket, primitive man discovered they could feed the smelly innards to up to 40 billion cats per can. If you are a mad cat lady, big tins are probably the only economical solution. If you have only one cat, it had better be a lion.
Charlie's verdict: I don't like this. When it's fresh out of the tin it is not nice. After a while it is like bits of pencil eraser in a stinky brown puddle. Do not feed this to me.

Whiskas tins (pate-style)
Like the chunks, only a more homogenous mix, less prone to separating and making the world a more unpleasant place.
Charlie's verdict: I'm going out.

Whiskas sachets
The single-serve food in a handy pouch! A revolution in cat science. These come in a dazzling array, too. However, no cat enjoys them quite as much as the free sample pack we received from Whiskas. Seemingly identical to the ones in the shops, they were laced with some deliciousness which turned the domestic cat into a vacuum cleaner which later ones just don't seem to have.
Charlie's verdict: These are nice. I particularly like the chicken in jelly one and all of the country pate range except for beef flavour. Beef flavour is disgusting. If you try and feed me beef flavour I will 'accidentally' miss in the litter tray in protest. I also don't like the gravy range. Well, I like the gravy, but I'm damned if I'm going to eat the bits floating around in it. However, Whiskas oh-so-meaty is brilliant and I want to bathe in it. Top marks.


Cats like Felix, like Felix! So says the advert, featuring the cutesy prancing of a cat who is demonstrably an animated cartoon. Charlie is not like Felix. Charlie would like to eat Felix and chase it with some Felix. Accordingly, as he gets more elderly, curmudgeonly and creaky, he seems to like Felix less and less.

Felix tins (chunks in jelly)
Like Whiskas but spelt different.
Charlie's verdict: I don't like this. When it's fresh out of the tin it is not nice. After a while it is like bits of pencil eraser in a stinky brown puddle. Do not feed this to me.

Felix sachets
Similar to the Whiskas ones, but nevertheless different. Sadly, I could probably pick Felix out from a line-up of Whiskas.
Charlie's verdict: These are alright. Feed me these when I am not expecting it. Do not try and feed me these two meals in a row or I will stink and hair this joint up in protest.


Named after the Roman goddess of flatulence, Sheba has always angled itself towards the luxury market. However, since the crazy influx of really high-end cat food into the market in recent years, it looks increasingly less specialised. The sort of food advertised with a sprig of parsley on the cat's plate.

Sheba trays
Individual serving packs with a peel-back foil lid. These are mostly pate-style (after all, this is a luxury product, ambassador), although some gravy variants do exist. The most commonly available flavours seem to be yellow, orange and green. Or whatever the meat equivalent is. These look and smell the same going in and coming out.
Charlie's verdict: I am a big fan of Sheba. They fit my luxurious lifestyle. My favourite flavour is yellow, which is handy because it is the easiest to find in shops. I AM TOLD. This morning I had an orange one, which was quite nice. But then I went out.

Shop own-brand

Generally speaking, I am a complete slave to advertising and mass marketing, so rarely get shop own-brand cat food. However, we once tried these in desperation and by god, it worked. The products in question here are all of the Sheba-me-do foil tray variety.

Co-op Gourmet
Ethically sustainable socialist Sheba variant. Similarly packaged, the contents are a little less sophisticated and, duly, a little cheaper. Cats have almost no discernment, though.
Charlie's verdict: These are nice. I like the fact they are soft. I do not like the fact that the most commonly served one (chicken and salmon, folks) has great chewy lumps of chicken gristle and big solid lumps of wooden stuff. What up with that shit?


Marks and Spencer

Charlie's verdict: Like Felix pouches, I will eat these if you surprise me with them, but not as a routine. I am not an animal.


Hi-Life pride themselves on being full to the brim with MEAT or FISH, rather than carrot, ash and bogeys. As such, cats like them. Or that's the theory.

Hi-Life pouches
Like a tin of sardines after a nuclear war.
Charlie's verdict: These are sometimes OK. They are full of big lumps of real sardine! But I don't like sardine.

Hi-Life Petit Pate
Tiny cans of super-fine mush. Stinky meaty mush. Stinky meaty mush for cats.
Charlie's verdict: These are awesome. They have no lumps in and I can eat them without chewing. In days past I would have just eaten the tin whole and crapped out the label later.

The final reckoning

The ultimate desert island selection must surely be Whiskas oh-so-meaty (Chicken flavour), Sheba (Chicken and turkey) and Hi-Life Petit Pate (Chicken flavour). So why is he so picky about eating actual bloody chicken these days? My advice to you if you happen to find yourself on a desert island with my cat is to chuck him in the sea and be done with it.


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