Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Writing - Food banks for authors!

An author has been criticised for killing a rabbit she found in her garden then cooking and eating it! Is life for an author becoming so desperate that they have begun hunting for their own food?

Jeanette Winterson

Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, revealed that she had "humanely" killed a rabbit which was eating parsley in her garden in the Cotswolds. She cooked the rabbit in cider - and parsley - and joked that the fur made a "good glove puppet".  This created a minor storm on Twitter but what is the law about killing rabbits?

In fact there is no legislation to prevent anyone killing rabbits as they are considered pests and landowners are urged to 'clear' rabbits on their land by gassing, ferreting, trapping and snaring. 19th Century legislation allows for the shooting of our furry friend but gun laws these days limits the number of people who qualify to be able to shoot the beasts.

I remember that when growing up in the 1950s there was a plethora of rabbits which were culled by the use of the disease myxomatosis and the numbers fell drastically, but of course the rabbits became immune to the disease and its success faded somewhat. About ten years ago I had occasion to drive along the A9, up to Inverness in Scotland, late in the evening. There are some long lonely stretches of road, interspersed by distilleries, that had wide and verdant verges which were teeming with the little fluffy buggers. So there is no shortage.

Around 20 years ago I bought prepared rabbit from the butcher's, marinaded it in port with shallots and carrots, then stewed it and served it with new potatoes. It went down like a lead balloon as the children couldn't get mental images of fluffy bunnies from their minds. I have always liked rabbit meat God forgive me!

Comments on Twitter aimed at Jeanette Winterson ranged from threats to never read another word she wrote to questioning whether there was a problem at all. My own opinion is that, as omnivorous creatures, we eat a variety of meats and vegetation which is only tempered by the higher brain function - reason - and is down to personal preference. What I object to is the inference that when something like this becomes public on platforms such as Twitter, that everyone has a right to impose their position on other people. 

In short - they don't!

Perhaps if authors are so hard up that they have to revert to the 'hunter gatherer' mode of living then there will be greater problems for all of us. Food banks have been in the news this week as a result of the announcement that Britain is becoming increasingly divided into a 'haves and have nots' society. Perhaps we need writers' food banks for those of us who have trouble selling their wares!

I dispute the fact that we are becoming a divided society probably unable to change to a fairer way of living. Richard II, in October 1381, negotiated with peasants over unfair treatment by squires, landlords and the gentry. What has changed in 600+ years?

God Bless