Sex and drugs and natural history - UK - News - The Independent

Sex and drugs and natural history

I was reading a piece by Belinda Archer in this paper the other day about TV cookery programmes - I don't really get much chance to see TV cookery programmes, but I like to read any piece about TV cookery programmes that I can lay my hands on - and it seems that there are now more TV cookery programmes a day than there are meals. Some people, it seems, actually eat their take-away meals while watching TV cookery programmes, which I suppose is a bit like watching sex films while ....

I suddenly remembered where I had come across all this before. In CS Lewis. Yes, in a book by the author of the Narnia stories. When I was a little lad, before my voice broke, I was made to read his book called The Screwtape Letters, which is a series of exchanges between a senior devil and a junior devil sent out to Earth for his first tempting expedition. (Heady stuff for a 12-year-old.)

At one point the devil shakes his head over the idea of people paying to see a strip-tease. "I can never quite understand why men hand over money to gather in a room and watch a woman's body being paraded," he says, or words to that effect. "After all, eating is just as powerful an impulse as sex, but do people sit down and watch piles of attractive cookery being carried round in front of them? Do audiences lick their lips and frenziedly applaud as a cook shows off his or her creations?"

At the time this was all a bit lost on me. I had not yet reached puberty and the idea of paying to see a woman's body struck me as a waste of pocket money. I didn't much fancy the idea of watching food being carried round either, though it seemed somewhat the better option of the two. But CS Lewis was being prescient by accident. Yes, CS Lewis would be depressed to learn, people would line up these days to watch cookery being done, or at least gather in their homes to do it. People buy videos of it. And the people who are featured in these videos become pin-ups. Step forward Gary Rhodes. Thank you, Gary. Step back now.

Or, as media man Mike Ainsworth says, in the aforementioned piece by Belinda Archer, "From being something we didn't really care about as a nation, food is now a major form of social currency. It is the new sex, the new rock 'n' roll, and even if you are not a cook, it is impossible now not to have a view about cooking because of the impact of TV chefs. We are no longer what we eat - we are what we watch."

Hot diggity! The new rock 'n' roll! Already in 1997 something new is being greeted as the new rock 'n' roll! So many journalists last year had sworn never again to greet anything as the new rock 'n' roll, and here we go already! In the last few years there have been so many things greeted as the new rock 'n' roll. There was comedy, of course, which was the new rock 'n' roll in the sense that young kids suddenly want to be stand-up stars instead of rock stars. There was football, which was like rock 'n' roll in that it was noisy and energetic and annoyed your parents, even though they had enjoyed it all along. There was fashion, and there was the Internet, and there was aerobics, and there was world music, and there was line dancing, and there was cartoon animation, and they have all been the new rock 'n' roll in their day, in the sense that journalists couldn't think what else to call them.

And now it's food. Food is the new rock 'n' roll. Well, this might be true if you sat quietly at home listening to rock 'n' roll with a take- away on your knee, but I think Mike Ainsworth was nearer the mark when he said that food was the new sex. Food and sex have a lot in common. They are both vital to our survival. They represent basic urges which man has tried to make sophisticated. They can both be great fun, and also extremely tiresome. And they can both be very dangerous. Safe sex was, for a time, the new safe rock 'n' roll, and safe eating (slimming, dieting, vegetarianism, etc) is the other side of the gourmet gospel.

But there is one thing that encompasses all this, and that is something which is on our TV sets the whole time and which I haven't mentioned yet: natural history. When we sit gaping at natural history programmes on our TV, we get the best of everything. We get all those other things which have been greeted as the new rock 'n' roll. We get nature performing oodles of sex, we get nature eating and drinking whenever possible, we get nature producing the most wonderful fashion ideas, we get nature doing blood sports, and we even get nature being very funny.

It's got everything.

Except rock 'n' roll.

Natural history is the last rock 'n' roll-free zone.

I think natural history may be the new world music.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week