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[A basefuck friend is to interview Neil Innes soon]

Gosh. Saw him at Uni with Grimms, in Leamington Spa when Off the Record came out and a few years back with the Bonzos. Great talent and Innes Book of Records was a gem of a show.

In 1973, my friend Dave (now my friend Jenny) was being driven into Manchester when he yelled, “Stop! There’s a duck!” Mike, the driver slammed the brakes on at great risk to life and limb, and Dave got out and came back with a large plastic duck on wheels. Later he cut the base off and wore the duck as a hat, à la “How Sweet to be an Idiot“.

A bunch of us were on a canal holiday in Stourbridge in the mid 70s, and all piled into a chippie for us teas. My ex-wife-to-be, Heidi, was wearing the duck as we got served, causing some amusement and bafflement. As we went outside to eat them, Dave took the bird back and wandered off. I stood with Heidi eating our fish suppers, when we were approached by a curious vision. ‘Twas a not-quite-young woman with a beehive hairdo, a near-transparent red lace blouse over a push-up black bra, a leather miniskirt over fishnet tights and six inch stilettos, accompanied by a short, squat chap in a tatty jumper and trousers. She had obeyed Hamlet’s injunction to ‘paint an inch thick’ and her false eyelashes reached us quite a while before she did.

“Where’s yer duck?” she asked the wife.

“Oh, it’s not mine, our mate’s got it now.”

“It’s not right. It’s not normal; you’re a weido,” she said in all seriousness. Her companion tried to pour oil on the waters — “they’re just young folk ‘aving a bit o’ fun”, but she got more and more worked up.

“No, it’s not right; she shouldn’t be allowed out. Yo sh’d be in Stafford, yo sh’d!”

Eventually she wandered off still muttering that Heidi should be locked up in said establishment and we spent the evening debating who actually looked the more ridiculous.

All inspired by Mr Innes.


[Some guy asked for people to fill in a survey on veganism for his studies. In the ensuing discussion someone recounted their experience of being called a murderer (which he said betrayed a lack of understanding of the legal meaning of that term) by veggie weirdos, but said if people were doing what they believed, that must be doing good…]

Is it inherently good if people do what they think is good? Probably most crimes have at least one culprit who thinks the action right. After all, Socrates said no one does evil intentionally (ie we all think our sins can be justified in some way). I think vegetarianism is ethically dubious, but most veggies seem to think they have the moral high ground.

I once told my nephew I used to be a vegan until I realised I couldn’t reconcile it with my ethical and spiritual beliefs. My sister cut in to say “you don’t have any ethical and spiritual beliefs!” I said, “exactly, so why be vegan?”

I was of course being disingenuous; I do like to think I consider such questions all the time, even though I tend to say that spirituality is an affliction of the insufficiently occupied.

I also have a character in a novel explain a lapse from vegetarianism with, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is tasty,” though I am always annoyed when people genuinely ‘justify’ being carnivores with, “but I like meat.” I like butchering small children, but it doesn’t make it right.

I think Hitler and Stalin were doing what they believed; I don’t think they made the world better, except in stmulating those who want to stop people like them doing the same again.

To be fair I think those who say meat is murder know what the legal definition is, but think that definition in being anthropocentric is inadeqaute. Of course, a standard answer is that if meat is murder, vegetarianism is genocide, as many livestock species would have to be wiped out, to release land etc.

I can’t help feeling a lot of it stems from thanatophobia.

But the debate can only be a good thing. Sadly many discussions of this topic get rather heated and angry. So far this thread is doing very well. But I agree with David Hume that philosophy is best done by convivial discussion over a bottle of wine. I suspect he’d have been less keen on social media as a platform for meaningful discourse.