Saturday, February 03, 2007

BULLIES OF THE FOOD CHAIN

"You're that journalist, aren't you." The man stands in front of me, beer in hand. Sandy blond hair, about my age. I take a drink, and look carefully around the yacht club bar. A couple of old women carry seafood dinners out to the patio, an offduty cop stares down into his bourbon and ice, and a woman in tight jeans does the twist with a four-year-old on the dance floor. I figure he must be talking to me. "Well, i guess so," i say. "Come and sit over here," he beckons. We go and sit at one of the laminex tables in front of the tiny stage where CJ and his band are hacking their way through cover versions like drunken machete-wielding pygmies through a marijuana crop.

"You're the one who complained about the roosters," the man says. Roosters, plural? As in, more than one of them? He takes a slow draught of his beer. "I mean, that's o-kay." The way he says o-kay, with a querelous, rising inflection, makes me think it's not okay. "I know I'm not supposed to have them in town," he says, "I was just trying to fertilize some eggs." When i was at the Lodge, this godawful cockle doodle doodling startled me awake around 4.30am, then continued at random throughout the morning. On the other side of the Lodge, a dog stood barking at a Hills Hoist for hours on end. Moving to Mickey T's, just next door, has merely moved me one step closer to my nemesis. "I'm Dave. I'm a bricklayer," he says. We shake hands. "Mick came round this morning, said they were bothering you. So I killed them."

"I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?" asks CJ, finger-picking his acoustic guitar. "Comin' down on a sunny day?" The bass player and drummer shake their heads left and right, as if in a desperate attempt to locate the beat. The four-year-old stamps his little feet and claps his hands out of time, a mini parody of the rhythm section. No-one offers any reply to CJ's meteorological enquiries. I assume his questions must be rhetorical.

"Well, you didn't have to go and do that," i say. I guess i had half-imagined there might be a simple vocal-chord operation, or a Rooster Retirement Village, or some slightly less drastic solution. Although i had wanted to throttle that damn rooster every single morning, the reality of its sudden demise has made me feel strangely culpable. "Oh, it's o-kay," Brickie D says. "I'll drop one around for you later. You and Mick can eat it."

Brickie D and i discuss the best way to cook such a tough customer. We concur that freezing him first, then slow cooking him for around five hours, might just soften him up enough to eat. The conversation takes a turn to meat in general. "It's weird how you can't get roo meat at the supermarket here," i say. "You have to get it from the pet food shop." Mickey T bought roo meat home the other night. We chopped some up for Mira the dog, then thinly sliced the rest, and threw it into a blackbean stirfry with pistachios, bok choy and egg noodles. It was o-kay, although it did remind me a bit of Iggy Pop circa 1980, and his song Dog Food.

"Im hanging around that same old scene," says Iggy. "My girlfriend Betsy, shes just fourteen. There's nothing better for me to do, i'm living on dog food. Dog food is so good for you, it makes you strong, and clever, too. Dog food is a current craze, eat some every day. I chew up my Sunday Mirror, i read about the rich i fear, dog food is my whole life, dog food composes my wife. Yum yum yum woof woof woof arf arf."

Brickie D nods. "There's the Pet Meat Supply, but you're better off getting your roo meat from the other one, the Gourmet Pet Meat Supply." I snort some bourbon out of my nose. The what? "Yeah, its gourmet. They have a sign displayed by the meat that says 'Not For Human Consumption', but everybody knows it's a nice cut of meat. They had some nice crumbed roo patties out there the other day. For the dog, you know. It's all nod and a wink stuff."

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