After having assumed the role of unwilling necroponent for a recently departed aunt in deepest darkest middle England, I was now more than ready to hasten a return to the sunshine of my hideaway. In a blizzard of hitherto ignorance and naivety, I took on the unenviable feat of arranging a green burial. We visited the 300 acre site in the brochure, of what was once prime porkery-piggery grazing land. In its place, a radically heaped slurry pile of shite of which the eco-trumpeters will unreservedly wring their hands in dismay. Couple this with the savage removal of not only the many marbled orange butterflies that once dive bombed your picnic, covered the chrome grill of your car in gore with their unequivocal lack of flight guidance, but also homeless ostrich plumed hornets and an entire array of recently murdered, native singing bullfrogs. These alone will have them baying for the blood of innocent farmers who gave up their land to the government for a subsidy grant and a 70" widescreen TV fitted between the front seats of their already bulging Range Rovers.
My point of contact was an hirsute little man complete with obligatory dreadlocks, wearing a colourful Himalayan mountain hat, who smelled strongly of cabbage-based flatulence. He had teeth the shape and colour of African Ju-Ju beads and by the look of his clothing had been up all night hugging trees. His office, a four berth sun-seeker caravanette, reminded me of a nightclub fire back in Glasgow where the cloying stench of stinking carpet had permeated my new overcoat when I was making a hasty retreat. The only time you should be in a Glasgow nightclub after 3am and past the age of forty is when you are buying it or burning it for a friend. Adjoining the green burial area was a surprisingly situated, coned off area, steeped in fresh tarmac and shiny metal, awaiting the arrival of several billion litres of carbon-monoxide belching motor cars queueing to take advantage of Oxfordshire's latest attempt at park-and-ride. Not so much green then, more a darkish, greying smudge of black.
Amongst a sea of namaste muttering, baggy-breasted, non bra-wearing, oily skinned, mantra chanting, Stonehenge dwelling miscreants, I picked out what was seemingly a quiet spot overlooking more green fields, (if you ignored the M40 motorway in the background) a smallish willow tree which hung depressingly over a wide stream full of plastic bags, supermarket-associated detritus and a fading billboard advertising lojbanised household appliances at discount prices. Having dug a few midnight holes in the countryside in my time, I soon realised that the water table would float the wicker-built casket underground long before the arrival of the next winter flood. It's never nice when you go for a ramble in the English countryside, only to come across the remains of someones aunty popping up as you bend down to sip the cool clear waters of a hidden spring.
The service was to be a shining example of multi-faith, radical green speeches on Mother Earth reclaiming her richness in the onward journey of the dearly departed. For our part, we was there to ensure that the skirl of an Irish bagpipe was heard during the final lowering of what looked like a neatly clipped hedge containing my dear aunt. Into an abyss of stinging nettles she would go, helped along by mosquito's and some enticingly tasty green appendage that would be rather fitting when mixed with a fresh garlic and pasta dish. There was to be no marker stone other than the often dropped souffle of fresh cow pats from the wandering herds of dissipated cattle as they chewed lackadaisically at great clumps of shite-covered tufts of green grass as they urinated and defecated upon not only Mother Earth, but also our dear aunty.
As I turned my rental car back towards the direction of the airport, I couldn't help but plan methodically the final resting place of myself. I had often longed to be scattered to rest beneath the single tree that stands on guard at the shore of Firkin Point next to the very picturesque Trossach waters. To drift lazily upon the summer current and become as one with Scotland and its many natural beauties. However, after seeing the evolution of our world as it turns ever quicker into a tarmac prison of eternal dystopia, I had decided to revert back to being cremated, placed into a Tupperware container upon my old friends mantel shelf at his home in Limerick. I may well end up having bits of me sucked up off of the carpet every Saturday morning, scooped into a Hoover bag and scattered amongst the tattie peelings, but at least I won't be dissolved in ancient pig-shite and left to rest smelling of cow pish.
Middle England Soup
10 oz cured pork sausage, removed from casing.
1 white onion, diced
1 cup fennel, diced
1 free range carrot, diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp black cracked pepper
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp freshly smashed and minced wild garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1 plump red tomato
4 oz fresh tomato juice
8 cups of homemade chicken stock
2 cups of brown lentils, rinsed for the love of all things holy, rinsed!
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
sour cream for the garnish
In a large copper pot, saute the sausage over a medium heat, break it down with a wooden spoon and cook it for 3 minutes. Add the onion, fennel and carrot. Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the sausage is fully cooked and the veg is soft. Put in the cinnamon, pepper, paprika, thyme, bay leaves, garlic and salt. Cook for a further 1 minute. Add the tomato and the juice, chicken stock and lentils. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Finally, add the spuds and cook for 10 more minutes until they are tender. Remove the bay leaves, add salt to taste and serve with warm crusty rustic bread.
Created & prepared by Chef Files