Monday, November 20, 2006

Just an Old Banger

The sausage is a ubiquitous food, every nation has its own breed. And very good too, most of them. For myself, I’ve always had a preference for the British Banger and, as they were my staple diet when a student, I am a living testimony to their being an invaluable source of brain food.

The sausage-making industry is, I suspect, a placid one. Grinding the meat, mixing the spices and shoving it all into casings is not the stuff of drama, and one can imagine your average sausage man being a quietly contented head of the family, just anxious to get home at night to his sausage, mash, wife and children.

Until last week, that is, when a crisis of unbelievable magnitude struck this peaceful industry. It could only be compared with the effects following the assassination of an Archduke in Sarajevo in 1914, although, perhaps, not quite so far-reaching in international terms.

But sleek black limousines with tinted windows were busily ferrying high ranking officials to an emergency meeting at a secret location in Whitehall, reportedly the kitchen of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. T. Blair and G. Brown were absent and the Foreign Minister’s caravan was somewhere stuck in a traffic jam on the M6, but there were enough of the top nobbies there to form a quorum or quango or whatever it is one needs for these sort of meetings.

The Committee for the Control of Sausagemakers (CCS) is not a widely known body but performs invaluable work behind the scenes in protecting the British public from the activities of rogue sausagemakers. It was originally the British Bangers Committee, BBC for short, but the name caused some confusion and had to be changed.

As the members assembled around the Brown’s kitchen table, the chairman delivered the awful news. No doubt you have all attended similar board meetings when the news that the company’s shares have just fallen over Beachy Head, or that the corporation has been taken over by the Itsu Mitsu Corporation, was announced. There is that sharp intake of breath from the members.

In this case the news was that a secret agent had been infiltrated into the sausage making industry and had reported that, in the hills, or possibly valleys, of Wales there was a company producing Welsh Dragon Sausages and, ominously, named the Black Mountain Smokery.

The chairman paused to let the import of this sink in. It took a while, since government members are not too slippy in the uptake, so he went on to draw a parallel. He reminded them of the case wherein they had successfully threatened prosecution of ToysferTots who were selling a product with a picture of a supposed Brontosaurus on the label, whereas every educated person knew that this was now the Apatosaurus.

This sausage crisis, he felt, was a case of similar gravity. Accordingly, he had engaged a Swedish researcher, a Mr. Hans Blix, to go to Wales to investigate the presence of dragons there. Unfortunately, he felt that he had possibly engaged the wrong man, since he now understood that he had been sadly unable to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and had been equally unsuccessful here in the dragon seeking business.

He pointed out that, according to his notes, St. George had taken care of this matter some time ago, at which one member roused himself to cry, “St. George for England” followed by another reminding him that it was St. Pancras for Scotland, if one wished to go by rail. A dreadful picture was painted of Tesco shoppers hurrying home with their Welsh Dragon sausages only to find that they had been duped and had purchased only a pork, leek and chilli banger. Sobbing children, anxious for their first taste of dragon meat, would need consoling in their mother’s arms and feel that the guardians of their welfare, the government, so solicitous in the matter of tree-climbing, conkering and similar hazardous activities, had deserted them. Short-sighted Muslims, unable to read the fine print, would be in serious trouble. Vegetarians would be at risk, it was felt, and a lively discussion then ensued as to whether a dragon was animal, vegetable or possibly, in view of the fire breathing tendency, coke or kerosene fuelled, and hence at least partly mineral.

As it was nearly tea-time and the Chancellor wanted his kitchen table back, the meeting was closed but not before one of the party, and there’s always an awkward one in any such gathering, had piped up to say, “But what about Cumberland Sausages?” Would not, he suggested, purchasers of these expect something similar, perhaps a bit of earth or rock to be found in them? As it was a logical question, the chairman, conscious of government protocol for such occasions, ignored him.

Subsequently an armed task force was sent to the sausage factory, equipped with flame retardant gear, and forced the management into submission. The sausages were relabelled “pork,” and the British public could once again relax. Just another fine example of your taxes at work for you.

I believe the Welsh Dragon Sausage labels will be a collector’s item in the future. Look out for them on E-Bay.


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9:28 am  

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