Meat-eaters make song and dance about pigs' bowels

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The Independent Online
It was standing room only in the Grand Committee Room of the House of Commons, where the Agriculture and Health select committees were meeting in joint session yesterday. So I went somewhere else.

A mile away, at the Piccadilly premises of the luvvies' association, Bafta, the British Sausage Bureau was having its annual awards ceremony and lunch. Perhaps there I would be able to discover how the meat industry was bearing up to its worst crisis since the war. Meat is the opposite of sex: the more you think about it, the less you want it. So surely all the talk of offal, scrapie, animal feed, prions and nodes had depressed the market?

Upstairs about 200 of us sank back into comfortable cinema seats (mine had "endowed by Francis Ford Coppola" on it.) and waited for the show to begin. I looked around. There was a chap who was clearly a reporter for What Sausage? or some similar publication - but was the stern looking woman next to him from The Lancet?

On stage the famous miserable golden masks of Greek drama that are Bafta's trademark, looked down upon the symbol of Bangers '96 - an anthropomorphised sausage with a cheeky grin and a union-jack waistcoat.

Now, there is one inescapable fact about the article. Uncooked it is pinkish, fleshy and about three inches long, Worse, when cooked it becomes shiny and stiff. Rendered into a cartoon (as it was here), with eyes and ears, it was indistinguishable from Wicked Willie. And made into several Oscar-style awards, sitting on a table at the side of the empty stage, it looked like the most expensive and largest vibrator in the Ann Summers range.

Suddenly, with a whoop, six young dancers leapt on stage and began a rather unconvincing routine to the strains of a song extolling the history of the sausage - "it's a taste that's been around since who knows when". But why were there four girls and only two boys? To leave room for two giant dancing sausages, of course. As the act came to a climax the girls gathered round a six-foot sausage, cuddling and stroking it - reminding me weirdly of the finale to Michael Jackson's act at the Brit awards.

Time for the prizes. On strode Ulrika Jonsson, who has handled Gladiators and is not afraid of sausages; though from looking at her, I'd say she is almost certainly a Vegan who has not allowed a morsel of pig bowel to pass her perfect lips for two decades. "It has," she said, "been a funny old week for the meat world. So I am delighted to recognise the achievements of the British sausage industry."

Various butchers were given Golden Phalli for their Old English or Lincolnshire Specials; ad agencies won awards for the best commercial selling sausages and - bizarrely - best commercial mentioning a sausage, but selling something else; seven customers from a pub in Hebden Bridge were honoured simply for eating sausages; and some woman who had written a poem.

All good things must come to an end. So a singer with a flag on his hat rounded things off. To applause he ridiculed fads in food. "You can keep your muesli," he sang, "You can keep your ratatouille" and (without batting an eyelid) "You can keep your burgers without meat in". Thank you. I will.

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