** I originally wrote this post last year. But today, as we celebrate Robbie Burns Day, it’s worth remembering that I STILL CAN’T BLOODY WELL BUY HAGGIS HERE**
So. A wee bit of sheep offal and some oats and they shit themselves.
You can buy a hunting rifle and a pound of crack off some dodgy bloke down the high street, but can you get any haggis here? NO YOU CAN’T. And I really fancy some haggis and neeps tonight. Clearly I can’t just pop out and pick up a bag of variety meats, so making my own is out of the question (the question being, can I cook? no I can’t).
A ban on food made with sheep lungs has been in place since 1971. The BSE crisis in the late 1980’s confirmed American opinion that any meat products coming out of the UK were patently oozing with uppity maggots. For forty years, expats have been denied the right to a proper Burns supper followed by a wee spot of haggis hurling as the after-dinner entertainment. They could, I suppose, make do with a popular American dish called chitterlings, which is steamed pig intestines that have to be cooked with half an onion to mitigate the unpleasant odour. Yes, it made me go cold too.
Something else that has been denied to a large number of people for many years is the right to vote in Washington DC. Yes, 600,000 people are disenfranchised in the capital of the United States of America. You can pick your jaw up from the floor now.
Last year, Mayor Vincent Gray led a protest march calling for voting rights in the capital to the site of the new Martin Luther King memorial. Residents are allowed to vote in Presidential elections every four years, but do not have voting representation in Congress. This is because, for various historical reasons I won’t go into for fear of getting it wrong and looking like an arse, DC is not a state. The Obama administration attempted in 2009 to legislate to enfranchise all my lovely neighbours, but couldn’t get the votes needed after the Senate adopted a Republican amendment to the bill to repeal, amongst other things, the ban on semi-automatic weapons in DC.
Votes for guns. It would be like adding an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill stipulating that a surgeon must get his entire head inside a bong for at least half an hour before scrubbing in. He’d be asking the nurse to pass the biscuits rather than the scalpel.
In the UK we take for granted our right to parliamentary representation. There are few things in life that I get rather uptight about, but the failure to take part in the democratic process is one of them (other things guaranteed to drive me to a seething fury include people who wear sunglasses on the tube – can i give you a hand? oh I’m sorry, you’re not blind – and Kay Burley). I love voting. My nose gets all crinkly when I walk into a polling station. I remember sitting in my parent’s car when I was little, waiting for them while they voted and having that shivery feeling that Something Very Important was happening (I also remember accidentally beeping the car horn as they walked towards the car and getting a telling-off). Not only does voting provide you with the opportunity to influence long-term political direction but as a massive bonus it gives you the right to have a bloody good rant about the Government. What, you didn’t vote? Well shut your pie-hole, then. You are hereby considered mute.
Unless of course you live in DC where you don’t even have the choice. No vote, no voice, no haggis. I’m going to put that on a tee-shirt.