Real life

Surrey’s vegan wars

15 January 2022

9:00 AM

15 January 2022

9:00 AM

One of the village vegans gave the bacon sandwich resting on top of the recycling bin outside my house an accusing look.

I had placed it there, on a plate, for the builder boyfriend who was underneath my jacked-up Volvo which had been making an alarming high-pitched wheeze.

I always bring him a coffee and a snack when he’s fixing something, and as it was late morning, and he had missed breakfast in order to drive us to the horses in his truck because my car was emitting a wheeze from the undercarriage, I brought him a bacon sarnie.

And so it sat perched on the green bin that stands just inside my gateway bordering the village green, as the builder b lay under the front left hand side of the old Volvo, parked on the track, the dog walkers of Surrey parading by.

The next thing I heard, he was talking to one of them. Oh, dear Lord, I thought. What’s happened? It turned out that a lady’s dog had run away from her to come inside our front garden and stand beneath the bacon sandwich, whimpering and drooling.

This lady, we happened to know, was of the non-meat-eating fraternity of the village, which is a large and growing contingent, perhaps because we are so near to London.

As a matter of fact, I should clarify that I believe her to be vegetarian rather than full-blown vegan, because we once overheard her husband talking with another villager, who is a vegan, and he remarked that while he and his wife would like to go all the way, they could not quite manage the switch to plant-based living and were, he regretted, continuing to eat some animal products such as eggs and dairy.

This went down like a lead balloon with the full-blown vegan, who was wearing plant-based shoes and a hemp jumper, as you can imagine. But in any case, the aspiring herbivore was now standing outside our front gate watching her dog drool as he stood beneath a bacon sandwich.

I am always impressed by how tactfully the builder boyfriend handles difficult situations. I confess I would have been tempted to tell the lady to remove her dog from our garden. My spaniels were going ballistic, and had climbed on to the back of the living room sofa to bark hysterically through the bay window at the imposter on their front path.

I could not shut them up no matter how much I urged them to be quiet. And who can blame them? There was this mutt, slavering and whimpering at a bacon sandwich oozing brown sauce, which, in their opinion, they were next in line for if their master chose for some reason not to eat it.

They were beside themselves, making such a hullabaloo that I could barely hear the BB as he took part in this rather puzzling social interaction with absolute self-assurance.

He is, in so many ways, a comedy genius. He has that knack of knowing precisely the most amusing thing to do or say in a split second, in any situation, no matter how awkward.

In this instance, he simply smiled at the lady as she walked over to retrieve her dog. And he stood there smiling, until she was forced to comment. ‘It’s that bacon sandwich!’ she said, crossly, as if he were guilty of an act of gross antisocial behaviour by placing delicious-smelling meat in his front garden.

‘What’s that?’ said the BB, wiping his oily hands and presumably faking ignorance so that she had to further explain.

‘The bacon sandwich!’ she said, exasperated. ‘Ohhh!’ said the BB, as if that would never have occurred to him in a million years if she had not pointed it out. And then he looked down at the dog, and back to the owner, and said: ‘Would he like it?’

The lady bristled. ‘No!’ And the dog naturally disagreed by whimpering even louder.

‘I think he would, you know,’ said the BB. ‘Really, he can have it. I don’t mind. We’ve got plenty of bacon.’

The lady, who was of a pale countenance, very slender, not to say thin, and of a disposition that I would describe as tetchy, which I have observed often in the meat-deprived, looked the builder b up and down and said: ‘We’re fine, thank you!’

Whereupon, seeing as she had raised the matter of herself in the whole dog and meat conundrum by saying ‘we’, the builder b delivered his punchline, saying: ‘Would you like the bacon sandwich? Honestly, it’s no trouble.’

At which point, the lady put her dog back on the lead and dragged it away.

The BB came inside and laughed himself silly. But the sight of the poor dog whimpering for bacon, I confess, rather upset me.

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