Killer cheese: the trial continues

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The Independent Online
Yesterday I brought you an extract from the sensational High Court case in which Josie Metcalfe, a health food journalist, is being sued by the British food industry for damages in excess of pounds 13m.The British food industry claims that by urging her readers to become slim and healthy by eating far less, she is sabotaging the entire industry. More live action from the trial now!

Counsel: Miss Metcalfe ...

Metcalfe: Mrs Metcalfe.

Counsel: I beg your pardon?

Metcalfe: My name is Mrs Metcalfe.

Counsel: Are you married?

Metcalfe: No.

Counsel: Then how can you be Mrs Metcalfe?

Metcalfe: My name, Metcalfe, is an assumed name. If one can have an assumed name, one can also have an assumed marital status. I have assumed the marital status of Mrs.

Counsel: I see. Well, Mrs Metcalfe, do you remember writing in your weekly column the words: "We must all eat less dairy and milk products."

Metcalfe: Yes. I write those words almost every week of my life in some magazine.

Counsel: Do you ever regret writing them?

Metcalfe: Yes. I now realise they are all wrong.

Counsel: Ha! Wrong, eh?

Metcalfe: Yes. I now realise I should be writing: "We must all eat fewer dairy and milk products."

Judge: She's got you there, old boy! A palpable hit!

Counsel: Yes, m'lud. Come come, Mrs Metcalfe, is that your only cause for regret? Have you never thought of the dairy and milk farmers?

Metcalfe: Which dairy and milk farmers?

Counsel: The dairy and milk farmers who are going to be put out of work by your thoughtless words! The dairy and milk farmers who rise before dawn to care for their cows and go to bed after an evening struggling with the VAT, so that the citizens of this fair country can be kept supplied with their milk, cheese and low-fat spreads! The dairy and cheese farmers who, after your appallingly thoughtless words had driven people to give up dairy products, might be cast out of a job, obliged to sell their ancestral lands and forced to wander the streets in search of sustenance!

Metcalfe: No.

Counsel: No, what?

Metcalfe: No, I have never thought of them. Not in that light, anyway. I have always thought of dairy farmers as merchants of death, bringing lethal doses of cholesterol and saturated fats to their unwitting clientele. Milk and cheese are killers!

Counsel: Isn't that a touch melodramatic?

Metcalfe: You wouldn't say that if you had had a marriage partner struck down in the prime of life by clogged arteries.

Counsel: I am so sorry. Has that happened to you?

Metcalfe: No. But it would have been tragic if it had happened. Dairy farmers are no better than arms manufacturers. They are both making potentially lethal weapons.

Counsel: Surely there is a difference?

Metcalfe: Name one.

Counsel: Well, you can make a wonderful pudding out of double cream and strawberries, but you can't do it with a Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifle ...

Metcalfe: Yes, you can.

Counsel: How?

Metcalfe: Well, you could waltz into the kitchens of the Savoy waving a loaded Kalashnikov and shout: "Make me a wonderful pudding out of double cream and strawberries, because if you don't the head chef gets his innards smeared across the floor like a tomato coulis!" That should work.

Counsel: What if the staff hate the head chef and refuse to obey? What if they can't wait to stand by while he is reduced to offal?

Judge: Hold on! Hold on! I can't make head or tail of this! A telephone rings in court. Who the devil has got a mobile phone in court? Oh, hold on, it's mine. Answers mobile phone. Hello? Yes? Yes? Oh, yes. Ah! That's very reasonable! OK, I'll put pounds 300 on at 40-1. Thanks. He puts down the telephone. Sorry about that, gents - just placing a last-minute bet on the Tory leadership contest. Bit of a flutter on Thatcher coming in as a wild card for the second round. Now, where were we?

Man in public gallery: I must warn you that I am a lawyer representing McDonald's, and if you so much as mention our name, you won't know what hit you!

More of this enlightening farrago soon.

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