Vegetarians, you may come out of the closet.

February 28, 2010

But no trumpets, no self-congratulatory smiles. Just go quickly and quietly to a place of safety and await further instructions. Recently I’ve read several newspaper articles about the ecological sin of meat-eating, about how you can feed thirty-nine and a half people on the grain needed to rear one cow. I’ve no idea if that’s accurate.  But I dare to say that environmentalism is here to stay. And now I’m finding more articles about the cruelty involved in meat-eating. Mm. I read The Times and The Spectator, not because I’m right-wing …I hover in a no-man’s land of doubt and confusion, changing my mind a dozen times a day …but because the prose is slightly less annoying. But aren’t these organs usually ( I’m not asserting an opinion here) read by middle-brow, opera-going, Latin-to-be-taught-in-schools supporters , whereas vegetarianism is commonly associated with  wacky, hairy, rough-brown-pottery-using lefties who educate their children at home on Ginsberg and Gurdjieff. I’m detecting a bit of slippage. For many years to be a vegetarian has been to annoy all sensible, practical people who’ve got a life and who know perfectly well that man is a carnivore and that Nature is red in tooth and claw and if we didn’t eat meat the cows and sheep we enjoy looking at in fields wouldn’t exist. Let’s face it vegetarians are a  pain. No, really. They insist on taking a sentimental anthropomorphic view of animals that wouldn’t hesitate to murder their own offspring if  food stockswere low. And vegetarians are a downright nuisance to the restaurant owner and the hostess/cook . What’s even more annoying is that even though they’re a bit of a joke with their hummous and rice cakes and butternut squashes, they’re laying claim to some kind of delusive moral superiority. When I meet someone who announces with a sanctimonious smirk that they are vegetarian I take a hard look to see if they’re chippy, censorious, drum-beating, flag-waving individuals, who are going to quote poetry at me (their own), try to convert me to an obscure religion or lecture me about what a bad mother I am. Which is odd because for thirty years I’ve been a vegetarian myself.

4 Responses to “Vegetarians, you may come out of the closet.”

  1. Annegret said

    I’ve always found it amusing (in a sad way) that this blog entry among all your others didn’t attract any comments whatsoever. You very wittily go through the topic of vegetarianism here, & its place among the “good things to do” that so readily attract what my Italian friends call the “talibani” of the world (I call them the Brocklehursts, hellfire & brimstone included). Alas, one can be self-righteous and persecutory about a good many “good things” and thus make them into bad ones. And alas, many a leftie leaves the very same trail of parfum de soufre that wafts around a tightly Bible-belted member of the Christian right.

    • Dear Annegret Well, thank you for filling a gap. I can’t remember what I wrote and I NEVER read anything again in case it keeps me awake at nights in a swelter of embarrassment. Of course I feel as prone to irritability as the next person about crusades I don’t happen to be on. Sometimes one feels one really ought to join but can’t be bothered, sometimes they demand too much sacrifice, often they sound completely raving. Now I know about trolling I feel jolly nervous about admitting to any inclinations at all. You are a duck, Annegret, and I value your contributions, poetic and otherwise to my feeble internet persona Victoria

      Victoria Clayton

      • Annegret said

        Dear Victoria,

        I am re-reading Moonshine & thought I’d visit your blog of silence. I don’t know what made me go back to this very place – your vegetarian feast and my stupid response (well, it was November). I certainly never knew until now that you wrote back.

        Unfortunately, I don’t have any idea what the expression “you are a duck” means, and found only rather depressing options online (“Short for dumb fuck. Someone who is being particularly annoying as rather dense” and so on). But I trust in your good nature and assume that that’s not (quite) what you meant, though family members here violently disagree.

        More importantly, I do know what trolling means (though not as a victim) and am very sorry …

        Your books are lovely, and so is your blog. Even in its quiet silence.

        As a Thank You for the delight you’ve given, here one of the most beautiful of the Schubert Lieder, performed by Julia Lezhneva whom I love. If it’ll fit, I’ll also add the lyrics in German and English, the modern predilection for brevity be damned.

        All the very best and thank you for Moonshine!


        Im Frühling

        Still sitz’ ich an des Hügels Hang,
        Der Himmel ist so klar,
        Das Lüftchen spielt im grünen Tal,
        Wo ich beim ersten Frühlingsstrahl
        Einst, ach, so glücklich war;

        Wo ich an ihrer Seite ging
        So traulich und so nah,
        Und tief im dunkeln Felsenquell
        Den schönen Himmel blau und hell,
        Und sie im Himmel sah.

        Sieh, wie der bunte Frühling schon
        Aus Knosp’ und Blüte blickt!
        Nicht alle Blüten sind mir gleich,
        Am liebsten pflück’ ich von dem Zweig,
        Von welchem sie gepflückt.

        Denn Alles ist wie damals noch,
        Die Blumen, das Gefild,
        Die Sonne scheint nicht minder hell,
        Nicht minder freundlich schwimmt im Quell
        Das blaue Himmelsbild.

        Es wandeln nur sich Will’ und Wahn,
        Es wechseln Lust und Streit,
        Vorüber flieht der Liebe Glück,
        Und nur die Liebe bleibt zurück,
        Die Lieb’ und ach, das Leid!

        O wär’ ich doch ein Vöglein nur
        Dort an dem Wiesenhang!
        Dann blieb’ ich auf den Zweigen hier,
        Und säng’ ein süßes Lied von ihr,
        Den ganzen Sommer lang.

        Quietly I sit on the hill’s slope.
        The sky is so clear;
        a breeze plays in the green valley
        where I was at Spring’s first sunbeam
        once – ah, I was so happy;

        Where I walked at her side,
        So intimate and so close,
        and deep in the dark rocky spring
        was the beautiful sky, blue and bright;
        and I saw her in the sky.

        Look how colorful Spring already
        looks out from bud and blossom!
        Not every blossom is the same for me:
        I like best to pick from the branch
        from which she picked hers.

        For all is as it was back then:
        the flowers, the field;
        the sun does not shine less brightly,
        nor does the stream reflect any less charmingly
        the blue image of the sky.

        The only things that change are will and illusion:
        Joys and quarrels alternate,
        the happiness of love flies past
        and only the love remains –
        The love and, ah, the sorrow.

        Oh, if only I were a little bird,
        there on the meadow’s slope —
        then I would remain here on these branches
        and sing a sweet song about her
        the whole summer long.

  2. Annegret said

    Just to add one more thing: in my lovely and unfailingly supportive family it has been suggested inter alia that I patent tight Bible-belting as a new method of contraception.

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