Sunday, 12 December 2010

Hopping Mad

"You're not going to bloody blog about this, are you?" asks my friend The Milliner, as she orders a serving of chips. She puts on a bitchy falsetto "Ooh, my evening got a whole lot better as I watched her devour a double portion of chips with mayonnaise..."

I smirk, sip Prosecco and adopt an inscrutable expression. It's already been a good night, albeit one that nearly didn't happen (the usual malarkey, for both me and The Editor, of settling children, late-home husbands with switched-off phones and, in her case, a broken boiler) Earlier in the day we'd been at the nursery Christmas party, complete with a visit from the moodiest, least jolly Santa you could ever hope to encounter. The kids have had a ball and now, at the end of a long and, for various reasons, stressful week, it really feels like it's our turn. I've had to drive, so getting hammered is not an option, but I've consoled myself by dressing in a Chloe LBD over Black Rats and suede Sam Edelman shoeboots. It's not freezing like it was a week or so ago, but certainly chilly enough to warrant a coat, and I've opted for my rabbit skin. I bought it 2nd hand for about £30, back in the days when I ate red meat and when my attitude to fur and skin was, "If I'll eat it, I'll wear it." I used to love rabbit. Now that I no longer eat it, I still love the coat.

Almost time to go, and I grab it from the back of my chair. "I bloody love that. Can I try it on?" asks The Milliner. She slides into it, thrusts one shoulder forward and then the other, strokes the fur. "God, that's lovely," she sighs. "Can you find me one?"

Her - friend? acquaintance? I'm not sure - reaches out and touches it. Recoils. "That's real, isn't it?" she askes with a face that is less disapproving, more repulsed. Should I deny? Sod it.

OMFG. The floodgates that open are terrifyingly vitriolic. I find myself adopting my "uh huh, uh huh" face, head on one side, nodding, smiling encouragingly. I find myself saying "I really appreciate what you're saying." I find myself thinking "You nutter!! bring it on!!"

I admire passion and commitment in others. I have similar qualities, although not about animal welfare, particularly. But she is all over the shop. Nearly in tears, so impassioned is she - yet she tells us she eats meat. "Meat that is bred for survival is different from meat that is bred for your vanity," she shouts. She finds it extraordinary that I am a vegetarian. I consider telling her that this is also for reasons of vanity (ditching whole food groups is the lazy dieter's key to weight control) but think better of it. Even so, I'm intrigued by her definition of survival. What kind of survival is it that requires you to eat red meat? She's wearing leather boots. Rabbits are not an endangered species. I'm interested in what she has to say, still more so in how agitated she is getting, but I'm not convinced. Not enough to ditch the jacket, anyway.

I don't feel like I'm being attacked, particularly, but I do bridle somewhat when she says that she finds it hard to believe that I'm a mother. "How can you collude in the torture of animals when you have children of your own?? How would you like it if they were tortured for their skin or hair?" Whoa whoa whoa, stop right there lady - I may respect your opinions, but don't bring my devotion to my children into this. Besides which, I am not one of those people who places animals on the same level as children. Especially not my children. I'm just not. Sorry.

It really is time to go and The Editor and I make noises about it having been nice to meet you, see you again etc etc. She stands to go the loo and says, with reasonable vehemence, "Just remember, you are what you eat and you are what you wear." For the first time that night, I get a look at her size and outfit. Oh my. She speaks the truth.

It's not nice of us, but the Editor and I cackle gleefully nearly all the way home.