Friday, 1 May 2009

Joint - Early Short Story

This story, written in October 1986 was the one that got me most into trouble. At the time I was increasingly irritated by the rise of vegetarians and their attempts to stop people eating meat. Being only 19 and having had no contact with drugs (it seems weird these days when even primary school children seem knowledgeable about them) the only reference I knew was to 'Sunday joint' as in a 'joint of meat'. Possibly this title was suggested to me by a friend or just another student and seemed to be nice and snappy. Of course once I was being interviewed for university which I tried in 1986, lecturers assumed that I was not protesting about the spread of vegetarianism but that I supported the legalisation of drugs. I soon learnt not to refer to this story.

I strongly oppose the legalisation of narcotics; I am glad cannabis has gone back to being a Class B drug because I think too many people escape with drugged driving in the UK. I am still opposed to attempts to reduce our consumption of meat though fortunately the ardent nature of vegetarians seems less intrusive than it did back in the mid-1980s. Anyway, this is another type of dystopia again with a militarised police force in the UK. Some of my predictions have come true, as we do now have a BBC3 though it is not on in the mornings and not with advertising as shown here; 'Breakfast Time' has been a long-running BBC1 programme. Eight days detention without charge seemed shocking in 1986 but these days would seem very brief. There is a joke in that the 'Daily Mail' is a very right-wing British newspaper, but in this story, I have assumed that things have moved so far right that only Fascist newspapers ('The Struggle' was inspired by the title of Hitler's book, 'Mein Kampf' - 'My Struggle') would be acceptable.


"Today in Manchester, Riot Police were forced to break up a march by the extremist group, the Omnivore Action Front. This afternoon police chiefs invited the President to seek a ban on this organisation which tye call 'unlawful' and 'barbaric'. This march is the latest in a series of such actions by the O.A.F. throughout the North this month. Only two weeks ago, 56 members were arrested in Leeds and held for eight days under the Prevention of Riots Act, before being released without charges." The newsreader paused before turning to his colleague.

"Opposition MP's today called for tougher fines for the possession of meat. The Shadow Home Secretary said that customs officials needed greater finance and more staff to stop the flood of meat products, especially from New Zealand and Argentina."

"After the break we'll have a special report on an undercover raid by police on black market meat pushers."

"Just heard the news. There's been more arrests." The woman watching turned to see a young man enter.

"I know. John and Dave got pulled in last week under the Herbivore Act or something like that. Done for possessing illegal foodstuffs and conspiring to sell meat."

"When do they come to court?"

"Friday I think. The lawyer says they'll probably get five years for possession, maybe a suspended sentence for the conspiracy. That's if they're lucky, but the public are pressing for tougher sentences. In 'The Mail' they said some are getting fifteen for selling. Didn't you see it?"

"No, I never read that paper. It's too left-wing. I prefer 'The Struggle', more my line, much more popular."

"Anyway, I stashed the stuff in the freezer. There's a couple of chops, cost me £25, ten sausages at another £43, and whole chicken, which set me back £70."

"A chicken! I haven't had one of those for months."

"I had to go right over to Sheffield for it. Cost me £49 in petrol alone."

"Well sit down now, you've missed most of the news; some report on the Meat Squad."

"... That report on the difficulties of the police Meat Squad was made by Michael Roberts. Now some business news. The Wool Marketing Board today went into liquidation. It says that the overheads in keeping all its sheep alive were too hight for the business to be profitable. This follows a follow pattern to the collapse of the leather industry two years ago following the passing of the Slaughter Act, banning the killing of farm animals for non-food as well as food use."

"That's the news for tonight on BBC3, our next news broadcast is at 6.45 tomorrow on 'Breakfast Time', goodnight."

Suddenly there was a crash on the door, then more thumping.

"Open up or we'll break the door down!" a voice boomed.

"Quick, it's the police! Burn the stuff! Hide the rest!" the young man shouted hurriedly.

There was a crack of axes against the door, then the sound of pistol fire. The lock was shot free and three policement in blue bulletproof suits burst in.

"Freeze! You're under arrest."

The others drew their pistols and laid their shields aside.

"Round the back!" their leader ordered.

The young man heard pounding feet go round the small semi-detached. "I'll come quietly." he said.

"In here, sir," the officer called out as he aimed his gun at the young man's chest, "I've got the creature."

"Good man! Here's Fuller with the woman." replied his superior.

"I caught her burning the stuff, but there's enough for evidence." Fuller explained.

"Thought you could flout the law?" the inspector sneered, "Well I arrest you under section 2 of the Herbivore Act. Take them away!"

The raiding party left, dragging the struggling couple with them. The smell of burning flesh hung in the air as the remains were gathered in plastic bags for evidence.

"Soya-steaks are alwats in season. Grill 'em, fry 'em, even make a barbecue. They're so cheap now at only £3 for half a kilo." the television continued.

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