I will always be by your side


I am easily confused.

She was a veritable Valkyrie, a warrior princess of the publican trade. I had visions of her in a leather miniskirt and tunic, a war hammer in either hand, horned helmet on her head.

As she took my food order, I couldn’t help noticing that she had a tattoo on the inside of her right forearm. It was an epithet in cursive script:

I will always be by your side

And that puzzled me. Who was the “I” and the “you” in that sentence?

Is her arm telling her that it will always be by her side? Which is a pretty good place for an arm to be, unless you are waving it in the air like you just don’t care.

I started to wonder if other body parts were similarly labelled. Perhaps there was a tatt on her generously proportioned rear end saying “I will always be behind you.” And one on her knee with the words: “I will always support you.”

Was it a comfort in times of stress for her limbs to affirm that they were there for her?

Or maybe she was being there for her arm. If it was by her side, then so she was by its. I don’t presume that her arm could see or read, but maybe it was cheered by the prospect.

Nah, that’s silly. This was surely a message to or from a loved one. Maybe it was a love token from a BFF – best friends forever. Or an affirmation of sisterly love. Or a message of love from a boyfriend or husband, who had quite cunningly not left his name and a forwarding address.

Perhaps it was a way of saying … “I will always be by your side, except when I’m not, in which case you can look at this tattoo to remind you that I would be by your side if I wasn’t somewhere else.”

Then I noticed that she had a badge upon her left bosom with the name “Claire” on it. And I couldn’t help wondering what the other bosom was called.

As I said, I am easily confused.

The other thing that confused me recently is Waitrose Aberdeen Angus beef. I know, I know. I should get out more.

A sign next to the beef said this:

“Waitrose Aberdeen Angus beef is produced from cattle sired by registered pedigree Aberdeen Angus bulls.”

Is it just me or is that more than little bit weird? It’s bad enough being introduced to the animal that I am about to eat. But do I really need to have its family history too?

There is also something sexist about this. They are telling us about my beef’s Daddy, but nothing about its Mummy. This certainly is “history” and not “herstory”.

I suppose there is an intensely practical explanation. You only need a ratio of one bull to lots of lady cows. So they save a lot of money by having only one Aberdeen Angus bull to a whole herd of … shall we say? …. inferior breeds. If we are being really pernickety, we could argue that Waitrose Aberdeen Angus beef is only half-Aberdeen Anguses and half something else.

But then let’s get really cynical. That word “sired” hides a multitude of sins. We might have a mental image of cows and bulls getting it on, a lot of grunting, rolling fields, the English countryside, a poet reading aloud the words to Jerusalem and a brass band playing in the background.

But what is more likely to happen is artificial insemination, a test tube and … no, we really don’t need that image in our heads, do we?

But, I ask you, what other foodstuff is advertised with an image of two animals making lurve?


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