The Southampton Signing

Now that I have some photos, courtesy of Danie Ware and Neil Ford, I shall ramble a bit about the signing I did in Southampton last week with fellow Gollancz authors, Jaine Fenn and Suzanne McLeod.

First of all, Moose got to come, which was nice. She very much enjoyed being fussed by everyone:

 

Plus Suzanne and I both brought a tin of Hot Wasabi Peas, so there was no danger of running out:

We very possibly scared away more potential buyers than we lured with these, but I think we might have got a few more people into the fold. As Danie Ware is now referring to the Cult of the Pea, I think we can safely say that she is one of the converted. Welcome to the cult, Danie, I knew you’d like it here. For the record, the Hot Wasabi Pea thing was my idea. I first blogged about it here. It all started with me . . . I want everyone to know this because I’m just petty like that. And I think, perhaps, I should be earning commission or something.

Here the three of us are getting very excited about the peas:

 

So much joy from such a little thing . . .

As for the signing itself, well, it was intense. People were crying, screaming, asking us to dedicate books to their unborn children and- Oh wait. No, that wasn’t us. That was Patrick Rothfuss at his recent London signing. I don’t think anyone cried at our signing, although depending on how many peas any one person may have consumed, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.  This was a quieter signing than the one I did in London. The Abercrumbles was not with us, after all. And I don’t think even Hot Wasabi Peas could compensate for his absence. But people did come and ask us to sign books, even if they didn’t weep as they asked. So thank you very much to those of you who came. And special thanks to Ruth, Paul, Audrey, Joanne and Jackie – it was tremendously cool of you all to come, especially as it was such a sunny day outside.

Here’s a final snap of us with our books. Go out and buy ‘em (but if you weren’t there on Saturday, you’ve missed your chance with the peas):

  

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Lambs Are Not Food

There, I said it. Ah, the sweet relief to finally be blogging about something that some people may disagree with. But I just couldn’t keep it in any longer. Seriously, there would have been a nosebleed or something soon.

I went vegetarian sixteen years ago. And, goodness, I’m not dead yet! So I guess that debunks the whole “you need meat to survive” theory. That is utter nonsense. You don’t need meat to survive (duh!). You need food to survive. I have not been living on wild berries and mud for the last sixteen years. I’ve been eating solid food, just like a real life, normal person!

Today’s fashions and attitudes are, in the main, overwhelmingly against animal rights activists. Every time animal rights comes up on a TV series, I groan inwardly because I know the one-sidedly negative portrayal that’s surely coming. Quite frankly, I find this offensive. It’s like portraying any Muslim character as a religious fanatic. This sort of stereotyping is simplistic, insulting and – let’s face it – blatant prejudice in a particularly insidious and ugly form. Grey’s Anatomy is the first show I’ve seen in a very long time to portray the animal rights issue intelligently. They were on dodgy ground for me with the pigs at the start, but they redeemed themselves with Izzy’s speech at the end (go Izzy!). They handled the subject sensitively, and they showed both sides of the argument (and clearly there are two sides to this thing).

But, usually, animal rights activists on TV shows are always portrayed the same way – basically, as mad terrorists. For the record, I would like to say that we are not all mad terrorists. I’ve been a staunch proponent of animal rights all my life and I have never yet blown anyone up. I have never vandalised property, or committed arson or armed robbery, or whatever else it is that people think all animal rights activists do. I have given out leaflets on occasion, and now I am clearly ranting (or lecturing people, as the critics would say) here on my blog. But that is the extent of it. I’ve never even thrown a brick through someone’s window. Indeed, I like to think of myself as a fairly balanced, sane sort of person. I favour peaceful re-education as a method of change because I believe – or at least try to – that many people hurt animals unwittingly. That they are simply not aware of the suffering an animal goes through before it ends up a sausage on their plate, or before that animal-tested shampoo ends up in their basket. I’d like to think that if people were better informed about the issues, then cruelty to animals would not be so disgracefully deep-rooted and widespread. The car bombing activists are the ones who give the rest of us a bad name. They harm the cause far more than they help it. But they are only a very small percentage – a definite minority. Most of us do not have bombs in our pockets – honest.

If animal rights activists aren’t portrayed as terrorists then we’re usually portrayed as wimpy, wet do-gooders. It’s interesting to note that abolitionists in the nineteenth century faced similar charges from slave owners. Fortunately, that didn’t stop them from opposing slavery. The problem is that genuine compassion just ain’t cool, whereas an affected disinterest very often is. Fortunately, I have never been very cool. Indeed, I was hopelessly uncool and unpopular at school. But if being cool means that you can’t care about the welfare of animals, then it suits me just fine to remain this way. Personally, though, I believe that you can be an animal rights activist, and, like Izzy Stevens, still be an intelligent, balanced, peaceful, beautiful person. You can, in short, be very cool indeed.

With the exception of my grandmother (who is a wizard cook, by the way), no one else in my family is a vegetarian. Practically all of my loved ones are, therefore, meat eaters. I am in the minority in my views at home, as well as in general life. I accept that other people eat meat. I do not generally run amok at family gatherings seething with outrage about the dead animals that everyone else is consuming (although I admit I’m not above the odd cutting remark if provoked). People differ in what they believe to be ethical, and I try hard to respect that. What I cannot condone, however, and have no patience for, is when meat eaters refuse to minimise suffering where they can. This means that they should always – but always - buy organic meat, and free range eggs. I do not believe there can be any justification whatsoever for buying battery eggs and meat. I wish the supermarkets would refuse to stock these things altogether. I also do not believe that people should eat babies. Even during the brief period that I was a meat eater, I was horrified and appalled by the very idea of eating lamb. For anyone who is unaware of what a living lamb looks like, here is a picture:

Lamb still very much alive - for now. 

Er . . . am I missing something here? I mean, honestly, could you cut this lamb’s throat? Blood gushing out everywhere, all over the straw etc? If the answer is no then, I’m sorry, but you have no business eating lamb. These are babies that have not even had the chance to live. So I repeat what I said before – if you really must eat meat, then it ought to be free range and organic.

But, please, whatever else you do, don’t eat the lambs.

(For anyone who’s interested, there’s more info at http://www.savethesheep.com, although this deals more with the horrors of mulesing and the wool industry.)

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