Hunger, Wastage, Stupidity and Partridge Pâté

Upon encountering someone who was mean or when I was in the throes of any kind of personal crisis, I would often head to see my Nan (rest her soul), who would reassure me that “people are bloody idiots”. Then we’d watch a bit of trash on the telly and, as I got older, I’d ponce a fag or two off her. Simple stuff and absolute wisdom from my favourite human being who just…understood. I hope as I get older I can be as reassuringly blasé about the continued existence of fucking idiots. At the moment I clench my jaw, growl and most recently spew expletives onto the Internet in sheer frustration at it all.

Today I am in a mind to work Mr Richard Benyon MP over with a verbal shovel.

It could’ve been anyone, I guess (there are a lot of bloody idiots out there to choose from) but this particular man caught my attention in the way only a person who sits squarely at the intersection of the politics/gentry venn diagram and gobs off inappropriately can.

Mr Benyon resides up the road from me, in Englefield. More specifically at Englefield House on the Englefield Estate, an incredible country pile just outside Newbury spanning over 20,000 acres. It’s pretty nice, if you like that sort of thing. His great-great granddad was former Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. He is currently a minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and MP for Newbury. I think we can pretty safely say that he’s one of life’s winners.

This wealthy, landed, educated man with all the privileges that life could possibly afford him has today delighted me with his views on food wastage.

Food wasted means fewer pounds in our pocket. Household bills are squeezed at the moment and we have the opportunity through a variety of different agencies to inform people better about where their food comes from and how to use it most economically.

Aside from the fact that in his household this no doubt means instructing cook to make pâté out of the partridge leftovers, my blood begins to boil at the merest suggestion that those people who are struggling day-to-day to budget in the face of increasing bills, decreasing support and record levels of unemployment aren’t fucking capable of understanding how to make a little go a long way.

Back in the late seventies/early eighties it wasn’t unusual to see my incredible Nanny Joyce cycling up the Cookham Road with a sack of spuds over her shoulder. She always bought potatoes by the sack because there were a hell of a lot of mouths to feed in our tiny little two-beds-and-a-cupboard house in the corner of a post-war council housing estate. Households were driven by economy, hard-bloody-work on shit-bloody-pay and topped up by petty crime. If a man in a spendy suit told my Nan to cut her waste, she’d have had him strong-armed off the property by my two big uncles, his ears ringing as she told him in no uncertain terms to fuck off and not to come back until he’d worked a 12 hour shift in a factory, cleaned the house, looked after the children and cycled back from the grocer with a sack of King Edwards over his shoulder. She might have called him a little shit and flung an ashtray at him too. There was always that risk in our house if you were a gobshite.

It occurs to me that not a great deal has changed between then and now. Hard-working people are still being fucked over by men with manicures and then told that its their own fault. And MPs who’ve never had to suffer the indignity of admitting they cannot cope are conspicuously silent when the reality of real poverty sits on the very doorstep of their £125m estate.


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