Thursday, March 01, 2007

Roadkill

Tis (almost) the season of slammed brakes, swerves and sweaty palms. I’ve already seen two dead badgers on the roads this week, innumerable squashed rabbits and now that the shooting season is over, the cock pheasants are starting to sniff the pheromones on the air and dandify themselves as they prepare to go looking for love.

No one taught them the Green Cross Code at school. Strutting around, their pea-sized brains overcome with lust, they don’t care if there’s a car coming – if there’s a likely lass on the other side of the road, they morph into a bloke in a club when the slow music comes on.

I have a friend who taught himself not to swerve to avoid rabbits. But I hate killing anything. My first roadkill was a duck on the A47 in Norfolk. I was doing 60mph; there was nothing I could do. I felt sick and for about five miles afterwards, my heart thumped like it does when I’m battling another bidder on eBay in the final few minutes of an auction.

But I’m not as sick as people who stop, pick up the poor unfortunate and take it home for tea. There’s a whole list of roadkill recipe books if you look on Amazon. Arthur Boyt calls himself a conservationist, but I bet his fans don’t swerve, slam on their brakes or suffer from sweating palms if they see a bunny walking the verge like a tightrope.

I don’t understand people who name animals, build up a relationship with them, then eat them, either. People like Hugh Fernley- Whittingstall, whose mantra seems to be ‘if it moves, eat it’, or Gordon Ramsey, who killed and cooked his piggies Trinny and Susannah.

My ethics have always been odd. I’m not a vegetarian: I am happy to gut a fish or remove the breasts from a still warm (shot) pheasant. But I don’t do venison, veal, or foie gras; rabbit has been off the menu since I read Watership Down as a child, and I suffer terrible pangs of conscience if I eat lamb, even though it tastes divine. Kill It, Cook It, Eat It? I don’t think so.

5 comments:

mutleythedog said...

Road kill is often good, but you have to watch out for embedded gravel etc. Is it an urban myth (rural myth??) that you cannot collect game birds you hit yourself, but only those hit by other people, who can in exchange clollect any you hit? I wonder.

mutterings and meanderings said...

I don't know if that one's true or not; I imagine gravel would be a lot more tooth-cracking than cartridge shot as well. Generally the squashed pheasants I see are a bit mangled and crow-pecked to even consider... shudders slightly ...

The Grocer said...

I don't think it is an urban myth, you are not allowed to pick up roadkill that you yourself have killed. I know I have heard it stated on Radio etc.

The Grocer said...

I can't agree that anyone picking up roadkill is sick however, surely the death of a perfectly good edible animal by accident as most roadkill is is less morally repugnant than raising animals to be slaughtered for human consumption? I am not a vegetarian either and if the wife would let me I would cook roadkill as it is an excellent source of free meat.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Grocer, there is just something very unpleasant about it. As I said, my ethics aren't logical. Eating roadkill puts us on a par with crows!