My Kingdom for a Cow

It’s very odd. Turn on the news or pick up a newspaper, flick through Twitter or browse Facebook, and what do you find? Well, the House of Commons voted in favour of gay marriage for a start. Then the bones in the Leicester car park turned out to be our very own Richard III. Not to mention the ongoing saga of the Black Beauty burgers…

Yet walk into the office and all you hear is what happened in Corrie and how many calories there are in a tin of Campbells Cock-a-leekie soup. Amazing. It’s like the outside world ceases to matter.

The king in the car park was a huge story – and rightly so. It went all around the world. In fact, there seemed to be more excitement in America and Canada than in dear old Blighty at times.  I have to admit I knew very little about Richard III. When I was at school we learned a lot about the Norman Conquests, then skipped to the Tudors, then hopped on to the Industrial Revolution. Shameful really. Particularly since our school was in Yorkshire! We learned nothing of the War of the Roses or the fall of the House of York or anything really interesting. Our teacher was obsessed with Henry VIII – well, to be strictly accurate, he was more interested in the sex life of Henry VIII. He would sit, wild eyed, reading out letters that Henry and Anne Boleyn had supposedly exchanged. I used to think that Anne Boleyn girl was a very saucy minx. It took me many years to realise that the letters were fake, by which time said teacher had served time in prison – but that’s another story.

So, between the saucy shenanigans of the Tudors and the mind-numbing dullness of the invention of the Spinning Jenny and the date of the Corn Laws, the rather mysterious world of the Houses of York and Lancaster passed me by. Of course, having watched the documentary on the dig for Richard III,  I have now read all I can read online about this King, and have taken to browsing Amazon and buying Kindle editions of works on the subject, both fiction and non-fiction. I am nothing if not thorough.

I find it quite amazing how, seemingly overnight, the reputation of King Richard went from that of an evil, nephew-murdering, hunchbacked coward to a loyal, moral, much-maligned, only slightly stooping chap who fought to the bitter end and had the courage of a lion. I suspect the truth may lie somewhere in between. I can’t help having sympathy for him, though. It’s not a good way to go, is it? There’s not much dignity being slung stark naked over a horse with a sword up your jaxy.

Speaking of horses…oh yes! The horsemeat controversy rumbles on (or should that be canters on?) It seems that there is far more horsemeat in our meat products than first thought, with more discoveries coming through nearly every day. My mother can’t understand the fuss. After all, they eat horses abroad, don’t they? Well, yes, Mother, they do. But they know about it. They choose to eat horse. We, on the other hand, are being told we’re eating beef. It’s not quite the same thing. There have also been pork products found in our supposed beef dishes, too. What about people with religious beliefs which forbids them to eat the flesh of a pig? What about people with allergies? How do we know these animals weren’t diseased or treated with horrendous chemicals which have now entered our food chain? If we didn’t even know they were being used, how do we know how they were treated? Were they slaughtered humanely? Were they cared for properly before they ended up in our lasagne? Did they just drop down dead while pulling a cart somewhere and get dragged off  to the Findus factory? (Note: there are other food companies that are also using horse meat. The author of this blog does not only recommend Findus).

As some earnest fellow pointed out on TV recently, there could be cat, or dog, or rat in our food. I mean, if we didn’t know there was horsemeat there could just as easily be something else in there that we weren’t expecting…like beef, perhaps. I think maybe it’s time for a complete overhaul of the meat industry. Things obviously aren’t being watched closely enough and if the inspectors and mighty powers-that-be didn’t notice a stable full of horses trotting into the meat factories then I’m no longer convinced that they are keeping an eye on the animals’ welfare. Not that I was ever really sure on that point. I think we have to face facts that it’s easier to turn a blind eye to animal suffering and trust that the officials are doing their jobs then to actually find out for ourselves what the truth is. It’s no good screaming in protest that you may just have discovered what happened to poor Shergar. We need more quality control, tighter regulations and a more compassionate approach to the food industry. Cows are people, too, you know. Well, you know what I mean. Join Hillside Animal Sanctuary if you want to know what goes on in the food industry – and no I’m not a vegetarian, or a vegan. I just think maybe it’s time we all opened our eyes and realised that it’s become all about money, not animal welfare. And if we can’t raise enough interest for the animals’ sakes, then maybe our own selfish horror at what we may be eating will make us all sit up and think. It’s a possibility anyway.

And on to the subject of gay marriages – something else that has caused uproar this week. Does anyone really believe that allowing two people of the same sex to get legally married will contribute to the downfall of our society? Honestly? Marriage is supposed to be about two people who love each other and want to make a commitment to stay together for life. Why does that bond have to be between a man and a woman? Marriage is a man-made institution anyway. It was created to ensure that people stuck together and couldn’t just run off and leave their partner and children behind when things got a bit dodgy. It was meant to make people live up to their responsibilities and so ease the burden on the state. It was about belonging and moral obligation and duty. In the early days, love didn’t really come into it. It was for financial security. Now we expect it to fulfil all our emotional needs, too. Yet marriages are breaking up at a high rate and divorce is a fact of life for so many people that we don’t even register it any more. When I was at primary school there was one child in our class whose parents were divorced. I had to ask my parents what that meant. I’d never heard of it. They explained it to me in hushed tones as if it was something unspeakable, and honestly, we never talked of it to her. It singled her out, as if something horrifically bad had happened to her.

Now, look at the state of us. I bet there isn’t a single person who doesn’t know someone who is divorced,  and many will have been divorced themselves, or be children of divorced parents. It’s a weary world. Isn’t finding someone you love enough to want to marry them something to be celebrated? Isn’t the fact that – in spite of all the break ups and bitterness around us – people still have enough faith in love to make that commitment something worth rejoicing in? What does it matter what sex those people are? Love should be celebrated. If you find it you should hang on to it for all it’s worth, and other people should be glad for those optimistic lovers who make their vows amid such a cynical society.

That’s my rant over…and now to the serious stuff. Wasn’t Corrie fantastic last week? I have to admit I think Gail is just awful, and I was cheering Lewis on all the way. And weren’t those flowers he left Audrey romantic? Oh, and there’s about 116 calories in Campbells Cock-a-leekie soup. Not that I’m interested…

Have a great week x

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