TV Review

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Last week in TV Dinners (Channel 4), Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tutored us in how to turn fresh placenta into delicious crostini. The placenta had once been on the outside of baby Indi-Mo, but it was destined to end up on the inside of Indi-Mo's relatives, as part of a wildly ecumenical celebration of his birth. "Neither of us are, like, Christians, so we didn't want to have Indi-Mo christened," explained the parents. But it was Indi-Mo's grandmother who seemed to be the real prime mover behind this unconventional alternative to chicken vol-au-vents. She was, as many social workers are, fond of "issues", and had discovered several new ones in the process of cooking up what initially looked like a catastrophic attempt at a summer pudding. Her rationale was quasi-ecological, quasi- New Age spiritual and will have left many viewers feeling more than quasi- queasy. But those on the spot took it in their stride - "It's just like the spicy mince you get on pizzas," mumbled one party-goer, suggesting that hopes that the guests would leave with a "new frame of reference" would be disappointed.

This week's programme will have offended some viewers, too - indeed, it's one of the strengths of the series that it combines absolute good manners on location with a complete indifference to viewers' feelings at home: it ignores contemporary taboos about butchery and slaughter with something approaching missionary zeal. The first meal, for example, included the assembly of a rabbit casserole - from the pull of the shotgun trigger to the finishing touch of a dab of mustard; rabbit skin, you learned, is as firmly attached to the rabbit after death as the rabbit was to the skin before it. Followers of an Ayurvedic diet, represented in the second half, will presumably have turned away during the dismemberment, because for them all flesh is taboo. The rule is elastic, it seems - the menu here included scallops in dahl and a fishball starter. But then seafood has never been quite as safe from vegetarians as other animals. In Southern India, we were told, fish are known as "the aubergine of the sea", nearly as good a line as the comedian Jeremy Hardy's explanation of his own lapses from vegetarian grace: "Meat is murder; fish is justifiable homicide".

Olympic Grandstand (BBC1) opened yesterday with the news that snowboarding's first ever Olympic gold medallist had enjoyed his title for less than 48 hours. Ross Rebagliati had been disqualified after tests had shown the presence of 17.8 nanograms of marijuana metabolite. Apparently you're allowed to have 15 nanograms without any problem, so it seems possible that his defence of "passive smoking" wasn't quite as audacious as it first sounded - whatever Bill Clinton says, we've all got to inhale sometimes. I was mildly surprised to find that marijuana consumption wasn't compulsory for snowboarders, given that this particular method of sliding down hills has been an alternative youth lifestyle for much longer than it has been a regulated sport. A hefty toke at the starting gate would provide all competitors with an additional challenge and the effect could hardly be more arbitrary than the curious combination of science and aesthetics which marks some of the more recently recognised events. Take the moguls, for example, a hilarious combination of dressage, downhill speed racing and what my mother used to call being "too cocky for your own good"; the competitors do a rubbery bounce down a tank-trap slope, then abruptly leap off a ramp and signal for help with their skis. There are names for these movements, if we are to believe the commentators: "He's gone for the iron cross helicopter!" yelled one; "He's nailed it! Moseley on fire". He won the gold, so we'll just have to hope the smoke wasn't too aromatic.

Coverage yesterday lunch time was of the women's ice-hockey, a first- time event for the Olympics. The rink-side entertainments included a jaunty organ version of "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands", but I couldn't tell, to be honest, being far too busy trying to catch sight of the puck. Apparently body-checking is not allowed in the women's game, though not all the competitors appeared to have been told about this rule. It sounded distinctly odd anyway - violence-free ice-hockey is surely even more of an oxymoron than drug-free snowboarding.

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