How not to cook Bear stew

My temper has always been problematic. While it caused the accident, the real damage was done by every decision I made in its wake. This meant the accident could not be perceived as anything other than maliciously premeditated.

Public absolution is beyond me now. Forever more I’ll be defined by the sniggering infamy that follows politicians felled by sleaze. I’ll be that fella, that nutter, that weirdo who did that squalidly inexplicable thing. I can’t offer this as a defence, but somewhere in my recesses safe from formality and normality, I can admit why I did it. Having never been an impulsive or creative person, the liberation of killing, though accidental, freed me to convert a strange impulse into physical reality. The best art and scientific discovery is often inadvertent, spontaneous or borne of challenging circumstances. For someone without an aptitude for either discipline, and with little experience of the latter, being able to live unencumbered by my paucity of invention and bravery, if only for a short time, was precious.

Owning a pet appears burdensome. Dog owners spend an inordinate amount of time and money walking it, grooming it and taking it to the vet. Pet ownership validates domestic contentment or to fill an emotional void; usually as a tragic surrogate for a spouse, or a test run of one’s parenting credentials. If we can look after a dog, well, why not? Cats are lower maintenance. Bear, the neighbour’s cat, so named because of longish brown fur, was certainly avaricious. I’m convinced he was aware of my routines; when I turned on the heating, at what time I ate, and the day I usually did my grocery shopping. He was always ready to take advantage of my decadences.

During winter I have a lie in on Saturday and Sunday. My boiler is timed to come on at 10am. In a tawdry life with few luxuries and indulgences, this is one. Whenever this weekend routine gets interrupted I become irritable. Being woken by a delivery driver just to receive an Amazon delivery for the neighbours (not Bear’s owners, it should be noted) is an interruption. Seeing a letterbox stuffed full of junk mail fuels my growing disdain at the prospect of more me time being wasted. The open front door allowing heat to bellow out, and the biting January air replacing it, confirms the ruination of my comfort. Self-serving and selfish thoughts these may be, but I’m not inconsiderate, I could’ve just ignored the doorbell.

The unusual size to weight ratio of the package momentarily confounded me. I placed it on the side table. Turning back towards the door, still in a fit of impatience, I stubbed my toe. My slippers offered meagre protection from the impact. I slammed the door with an excessive fury. A ring of Bear’s neck and his choked yelp were overwhelmed by the door’s reverberation.

Bear lay there, his flaccid neck slumped over the threshold, tongue protruding with an inelegant twist. It cannot be. How? Self-preservation replaced shock’s momentary paralysis and I lifted his languid body, ironically lying him down gently on top of the delivery package. I scanned the street intently, a car passing was the only sign of life. There didn’t appear to be any witnesses.

Logistics are essential when your disposal of a dead cat is excessively ostentatious and meticulous. By cutting up the cadaver into sections, and using two different methods of disposal, I was creating an unsolvable puzzle. Fred West was just lazy.

The first step was to remove the bird-warning collar. Its rattle was certainly effective, too much so. Little doubt the walls weren’t thick enough to blunt it’s irritating jangle, not when Susie, Bear’s owner, may be listening out for it with a vigilant desperation. After placing it on the mantelpiece I moved Bear’s corpse to the kitchen.

Carving up Bear wasn’t as grotesque as I envisioned. I expected projectile spray, but the blood oozed steadily for only a few seconds. It only took two hacks with a slightly blunt meat cleaver to remove Bear’s head. I held his severed head level with mine and stared into his eyes, his tongue had reverted to its favourite post-mortem pose, sagging outside of his mouth, which augmented a facial expression that suggested extreme intoxication, not decapitation. This face off pose was a childish sequence, it unsettled me, as it was the kind of sordid indulgence that psychopaths or primitive animals enjoy, such as a cat pawing at a twitching mouse whose neck it’s just broken.

After removing Bear’s limbs, right at the point of readying myself to remove his tail, arm cocked, I stopped, finally realising the utter insanity of my endeavours. But having come this far, it was too late to stop now. Life experience is essential, and even if I’d never willingly share this with anyone else, unless placed under duress, I’d carry myself with the confidence that comes from knowing I got away with butchering a household pet that I’d killed accidentally.

Cleaning the chopping board under the tap removed the blood, but I needed something to wrap Bear’s head and other appendages in. Biodegradable kitchen paper was just the ticket. That left his body, which I skinned sloppily after watching a few YouTube instruction videos. It should be noted that said YouTube videos were of animals that are commonly kept for slaughter in this country.

I decided the make stew out of Bear’s body. To start, I removed his innards and put them in a blender. They smelled revolting. I placed the paste down the toilet and flushed it three or four times. The remaining flesh on Bear’s carcass was removed from the bones, which were cleaned under the tap and placed in the plastic bag with his head, pelt and limbs.

Cat stew, I decided, would partially follow the recipe of beef stew. Here only a couple of potatoes that were starting to go slightly green, one onion, water and a few table spoons of flour were placed in the slow cooker with the meat. This would be left for a few hours, while I disposed of Bear’s other bits. Upon returning home the stew would then be discarded. My intention was for it to have the appearance of one of those inedible ready meals that I’d (smartly) rejected.

It was now just after two in the afternoon, so I wanted to bury Bear’s remains while it was still light. I grabbed the plastic bag filled with Bear’s bits and went out to the shed to find the hand trowel. On way I was accosted by Susie. She hadn’t seen him since Thursday night, and was starting to become concerned. She asked when I‘d last seen him. That I was able to lie with a composed spontaneity surprised me, especially as I was holding bits of Bear in a plastic bag whilst talking to her. By promising to keep an eye out for Bear, Susie, too pre-occupied for our usual small talk routine, wandered to another of Bear’s regular haunts – the next door down.

On the drive to the burial plot I considered a Ballard-esque surrealist, post-modern hypothesis – what cat might taste of? Would it be similar to beef? Hare? Venison? Said intrigue was terminated emphatically when I arrived at the country park. As soon as I opened the bag of Bear to double check that I’d put all of his bits in there I nearly dry heaved. Thankfully the heavily wooded area I enjoyed from a scout trip here during my formative years was still there. It was the back of three, so I decided to get on with digging the grave. While the ground wasn’t frozen the soil was stiff. The extra effort combined with three layers of clothing meant that I started to break sweat. After twenty minutes I put my foot in the hole, the depth was knee high. Deep enough for some cat bits, surely? For some reason I adopted gentleness when handling Bear’s remains, and they were placed gently in their correct anatomical formation. Looking at it from above, with a bloody pelt superimposing the bones, this reconstruction was as puerile as it was pointless.

As it was almost dark, I quickly scooped the earth back over Bear’s remains, compacted it down, before grabbing some leaves and twigs to subterfuge the disturbed earth. Upon returning home I checked the Bear stew. Thankfully it smelled bland, I dumped it in the bin, and as the bin was nearly full took it to the communal one. I placed all the implements used to cook and carve up Bear in the dishwasher. Had a bath, then ordered a mushroom and red pepper Pizza. What a waste of a Saturday.

Sunday. Day two, Bear AB – that’s my acronym for ‘After Bear’. In the evening Susie was calling out Bear’s name forlornly. I watched her through a gap between the blind and window frame. Her body shape combined with her attire – gorilla slippers, hair tied up in a yellow towel and wearing a tiger onesie – made her she look like a octogenarian garden gnome that was impervious to taste. Suddenly an anxious nausea hit me. I’d been utterly dreading it’s arrival. Why couldn’t I have killed Bear in an accidental fashion that was plausible? Say reversing over him in the driveway? I’d feel genuinely remorseful and I could show contrition. People would understand, perhaps even sympathise with my plight.

I should’ve known this would be the day where I’d get the fear. Last night I had a vivid dream about a TV series called ‘Dogs on Death Row’. It was a perverted inversion of Animal Hospital with Rolf Harris acting as the presenter and executioner in front of a live studio audience of fringe Daily Mail reading gammon who moonlight as Noncewatch contributors. Rolf was wearing a blood splatter coloured t-shirt adorned with a picture of Bear’s severed head. When I woke I was drenched in sweat, surely similar to how I imagine Rolf felt at the prospect of facing his first day in gen-pop.

Monday afternoon, on the bus home from work there was a poster of a missing person. Perhaps Susie will just assume that something normal caused Bear’s downfall – he was hit by a car, and as cats tend to do, went somewhere private to die. You see posters and leaflets searching for missing pets all the time. People have even taken to Facebook and Twitter for help. It’s not unusual. And just how many of these pets get found? It made me wonder if what occurred on Saturday was a through the looking glass experience, and that these freak accidents caused more pet deaths than we assume.

That evening I had an omelette for tea. Eating meat, well red meat, has lost its appeal. Hopefully my appetite for it will return soon. Later, there was a knock at the door, opening it revealed a forlorn Susie.

Susie asked if I’d seen Bear. Then she requested to come inside and call Bear’s name, just in case he was hiding somewhere. Naturally I granted her request, to not do so could be construed as guarded and arouse suspicion. She terminated in the living room after an un-invasive sweep of the house. Her shoulders had reverted to a slumped state. I consoled her with the usual trite offerings we feel comfortable saying in said circumstances; he’ll be fine, he’ll turn up eventually, etc. She had one final call of Bear’s name, then she spotted it. His fucking collar! I forgot. Fuck! What am I going to do? More to the point, what is she going to do?

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Song Of The Day – B.B. King (Live at Sing Sing in 1973)

From the album ‘B.B. King & Joan Baez Live at “Sing Sing”‘ (2014)

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How to play the long game in 2019, just wait

Last spring I wanted the SNP to agitate for another independence referendum then and there. It would’ve been as catastrophically ill-judged as Brexit’s turning out to be. Can you keep the heid while your opponent loses theirs and parse things sans emotion doesn’t roll off the tongue, but that’s what the SNP have done and are doing. They looked at Westminster’s ineptitude and deduced that the calamitous decisions made between September 2014 and June 2016 would likely continue and result in even more calamity.

Even so, it’s hard to imagine a sequence of events that would’ve enhanced the prospect of Scottish Independence more since June 2016. In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum result did anybody predict this withdrawal agreement deadlock omnishambles? Who predicted we’d be facing a likely No Deal exit on the twenty-ninth of March?

Pinpointing the people and events most responsible for all this is tricky, as there’s been so many. But the disaster that is Jeremy Corbyn lists high, not only becoming Labour leader, but surviving this long in situ with negligible improvement in Labour’s polling (despite facing the most feckless Tory government ever), whilst alienating the PLP and significant swathes of the Labour membership. His poorly concealed Euroscepticism explains his inertia over supporting a People’s Vote, and his commitment to seeing Brexit through is helping to propel the UK towards No Deal.

Or how about Theresa May calling a completely unnecessary snap General Election based on the ‘holiday feels’, losing a majority (partly in reaction to a Leave vote) and only remaining in power by cosying up to some absolute fucking loons who really hate how old rock formations are, abortions, Taigs and the Gays.

The EU referendum was blithely inserted as a Tory election pledge in 2015. This arrogant complacency about the state of decay wasn’t confined to Westminster. From our cubicles built on confirmation bias(es) very few of the liberal, bleeding-heart, commie, right-oners contemplated the insanity of a Leave vote succeeding. Even fewer bothered to understand the complexities and obstacles required in Brexit’s application, and the multitude of forms it could take. Including, unforgivably, many politicians, and quite a number of political commentators. Brexiteer ignorance and Remainer arrogance allowed the lunatic fringe to hijack the referendum on EU membership, making it about something else entirely – for its ghastly figureheads it was about self-promotion and opportunism, and they succeeded in framing the argument’s subtext – Brexit was a means of preserving the outdated British psyche and arresting the UK’s decline as a global power.

The clip above is from an episode of Rab C Nesbitt where he starts conversing with a pink elephant. It might seem strange to use it analogously, but here Rab encompasses the UK’s insecurities; faded lustre, content, declining, willingly wallowing in ignorance. The eloquent pink elephant embodies his subconscious despair, teasing and goading Rab of his failings.

Contextually the concept of Leave became a way of vanquishing that pink elephant. Telling folks to have pride in themselves is an enticing message. Hitler did it loads in the thirties. Voting Leave meant not having to apologise about the way you felt or thought about otherness or change, or that you should consider changing. Allowing a jaded mind to turn to faith negates the need to accept uncomfortable truths. How Brexit would work wasn’t fucking important, autonomy from Johnny Foreigner EU would allow us to dictate terms to them, prevent ‘em arriving and eroding our culture. The success of the Empire was built on doing what we wanted, and to some Leave’s lies felt like that. But that was then, and this is now. We live in different times. Trying to reverse decades of economic globalisation and inoculate Britishness from external influence with Brexit is fucking comical.

It didn’t need to end this way. The UK’s break-up could’ve been done with grace and humility, not humiliation. The UK’s establishment have blown it. Brexit (whatever form it takes) has fatally encumbered the successful, albeit tenuous, Unionist argument of five years ago. No Deal strengthens the economic case for an independent Scotland in the EU (and voting for independence is the only guaranteed way to remain in the EU), but even more damaging to any future Unionist campaign is being tethered to the shoddy optics of Westminster’s selfish Brexit manoeuvrings. The latest hare-brained idea May’s come up with to save herself and the Tory party; re-writing the Good Friday Agreement (cause peace is overrated, luvvies) to get round enforcing a hard Irish border. It shows the level of contempt (and value) with which Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are held.

Caveat time – predicting anything is foolish. Maybe something miraculous will save the Union from itself. Perhaps the unlikely event of a People’s Vote (providing Remain win) will quash the drive for another independence vote? Are the general public in Scotland desperate to endure more of the UK’s self-serving political chaos as the pyrrhic way of sticking it to the elites, the immigrants, the politicians, to someone, anyone? Will the allegations and charges against Alex Salmond besmirch and derail the Independence movement? Perhaps the prospect of another referendum, no matter how much clearer the question is and consequences are, will be seen as a turnoff after Brexit.

Polling suggests not. So today my message is different – keep calm, keep waiting and let the nutters do their worst and trust that the SNP will wait for the optimal time to put it to the test. Because this time we can’t afford to lose.

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Song Of The Day – Dubdope by Hardfloor

From the EP ‘Dadamnphreaknoizphunk’ (1995)

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