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I like sweets that taste of medicine

14 August 2000
Victor sees the worst in everybody.

There's not much I can do about having unusual tastes: I don't read Bill Bryson, I don't like Britney Spears and I don't wear pedal-pushers (for which my acquaintances and the average thug in the street are no doubt very grateful). I enjoy listening to Prog Rock and the New Romantics: above all, I loathe Coca-Cola (for those of you who can't cope without your daily and excruciatingly sweet hit of non-specified "vegetable" extract) and M & Ms. You're more likely to see me, if any of you out there are ever going to see me, ferreting a quarter of an ounce of cough candy and a large root beer.

I like sweets that taste of medicine; I'd like some feedback on this confectionery phenomenon; I'd like to know if this kind of thing is universal. I'm from England, perhaps the only country in the world where confectionery is still metered out in imperial measurements. I'm from the North, where we're traditionally used to having to eat foul-tasting food like cow heel pie and dock pudding. It's the kind of place where food meets trading standards descriptions: cow heel pie is nothing other than a pie made from cow heels, and dock pudding is a pudding made from dock leaves.

In contrast, the kind of culture to which most children are exposed these days advocates that products should not be what they seem. Whilst an idealist medieval tourist plunged into the frivolities of a millennial scenario might expect said "vegetable" drink to provoke extreme self-confidence and the disintegration of the septum, we have to content ourselves with the fact that if we drink seventeen it may take us ten minutes longer to get to sleep. And the wholesome, sturdy mouseketeer, the paramour of every family man under forty-five, is in fact a silicon- and collagen- pumped, acid-fried goose.

What I'd like to see is a return to foods and consumer products that are what they say they are: no misleading "hamburgers", "hotdogs", "baked Alaska". Better to have beef pats, sausages and warm ice-cream - that ways the kids don't get disillusioned (and it's what the underprivileged and malnourished children of the North would count a spread fit for a moveable feast). You all need to come round to my house (those of you that don't know that I don't have one) to sample such earthy delights as dandelion and burdock, colt's foot rock - the former a fizzy cocktail of dandelions and another spoikey frond, the latter a hard and long boiled sweet formed from ground and compacted horse hooves.

But the one which really does it for me is the medicinal and botanical lozenge Fisherman's Friend. Most of the toothless pensioners who suck them are unaware of that on which they feed. For while the general public, accustomed to a world in which foodstuffs are not the edition advertised, tuck in convinced that they cannot be consuming the remains of those lost at sea, the mute fishing community of Fleetwood, Lancashire will tell you that this bizarre Eucharist is their only means of keeping alive the collective memory of their dead menfolk. Do you get me? Fisherman's Friends are in fact fishermen's friends, or at least the less nutritional bits which haven't already been snaffled by the grieving widows and orphans of England's North West coast.

How do you feel about what I'm saying here? Do you reckon I'm talking big pig's bollocks (which we Northerners also eat with relish physical and metaphorical)? We're getting out of touch with actual experience; we need to put things in our bodies that actually are what they say they are - otherwise we run the risk of rendering ourselves full of shit, something which you may think I and all the other clowners may not have to try very hard at. OK, so I concede I may be taking this a bit too far: we all know that eating people, even fishermen that are already dead, is slightly "wrong". But in my books it's a darn sight better than ingesting a liquid that has no natural flavour counterpart, has no bearing on reality, has fake breasts.

I'm not talking organic: I'm not talking Woodstock, Joni Mitchell and slugs in your unclean salad (although Joni I can definitely dig - man). Just invent me a Coca-Cola plant with leaves, pods and maybe even a few pink flowers and I'll be happy - but I may well still be chewing on my fisherman's friend, and making him smile.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
27 October 2003. Victor writes: Our Tune
6 October 2003. Victor writes: Sucking face (in a public place)
15 September 2003. Victor writes: You got any ID?
25 August 2003. Victor writes: Blood on the Boulevard
4 August 2003. Victor writes: In (paren)theses
10 July 2003. Victor writes: Island Fling
19 June 2003. Victor writes: Back (back) and forth (and forth)
2 June 2003. Victor writes: 300 clowns, 13 eight-year olds
12 May 2003. Victor writes: The swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune
21 April 2003. Victor writes: ...just sitting there quietly contemplating suicide
31 March 2003. Victor writes: Victoria
6 March 2003. Victor writes: Relevant experience
17 February 2003. Victor writes: You will eat chips and go nowhere
27 January 2003. Victor writes: A bushy fish for fishy Mr Bush (after Juvenal)
6 January 2003. Victor writes: The Accidental Voyeur
16 December 2002. Victor writes: Gripper goes bang
25 November 2002. Victor writes: Bediquette
4 November 2002. Victor writes: Where have all the spastics gone?
14 October 2002. Victor writes: An Immodest Proposal
23 September 2002. Victor writes: Fastscan masterplan
2 September 2002. Victor writes: Dry Humping Social Club
12 August 2002. Victor writes: Beat the Mongol
22 July 2002. Victor writes: What life is not
1 July 2002. Victor writes: Stupor heroes
6 June 2002. Victor writes: Dry
13 May 2002. Victor writes: Muppet Suite
18 April 2002. Victor writes: gingermingeninja
25 March 2002. Victor writes: Sodomize with Pukka Pies
28 February 2002. Victor writes: Dave's problem
4 February 2002. Victor writes: King of the Aisles
10 January 2002. Victor writes: Here come the decorator gimps.
17 December 2001. Victor writes: Make war, not supper.
22 November 2001. Victor writes: Cough
29 October 2001. Victor writes:
4 October 2001. Victor writes: Green Gauges
10 September 2001. Victor writes: Blind weed
16 August 2001. Victor writes: Snout!
23 July 2001. Victor writes: You're not going to put this in a clown are you?
28 June 2001. Victor writes: What is a droll?
4 June 2001. Victor writes: Burt Pakamak
10 May 2001. Victor writes: Board to Death
12 April 2001. Victor writes: Tricolon with anaphora?
22 March 2001. Victor writes: Point of View
26 February 2001. Victor writes: Goth's Dinner
1 Feburary 2001. Victor writes: Les Miserables
4 January 2001. Victor writes: Flat-packed furniture
14 December 2000. Victor writes: Deliverance
20 November 2000. Victor writes: Bottomry: Exorcising Ghosts
26 October 2000. Victor writes: Body Art
2 October 2000. Victor writes: Disney must die
7 September 2000. Victor writes: Ice-cream in Offworld
14 August 2000. Victor writes: I like sweets that taste of medicine
26 June 2000. Victor writes: I've seen the future, and it's feathered

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