The Third Leader: Meaty makeover

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Mutton, I note, is to be promoted. A new club drawn from all manner of carnivorous interest is aiming to revive the historic victual after at least 50 years of its being a non-meat, a no longer burnt offering to the superiority of younger stuff.

Some of us will take heart at this attempt to redress the balance towards seasoned maturity and the fruits of experience; others will find that the symbolism is a little mixed. One thinks, for example, of the Prince of Wales, who might be described as the bellwether of the campaign (the term refers to the practice of using a castrated ram, or wether, with a bell around its neck to lead a flock of sheep). But at least dressing as lamb is one charge that the Duchess of Cornwall has managed to escape, although, following her well-publicised appearance accoutred in rabbit, I wouldn't be too sure about sheepskin.

Still, if meat's your thing, there's no doubt mutton has stood the test of time, and universally, whether it be in India, the Middle East, or the Falklands, where the islanders swear by it, quite a lot: in fact, they eat so much they call it "365".

Traditionalists, as it happens, prefer a fine bit of wether, although the definition now covers all sheep over two years old. Despite the Prince's de rigueur enlistment of Jamie Oliver, I sense you would also appreciate my recommendations. 1. Dingle mutton dumpling, known, of course, as the Irish ravioli. 2. Mutton-and-veal tea is excellent if you're feeling a bit under the weather, but be cautious, as my 1939 edition of the Parkinson Cookery Book warns, "never use without orders from the doctor". Enjoy!

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