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Brexit - Brexshit - No Shit!
On a wild food diet I thought I could avoid the outside world. Ha! You couldn't make this story up. Please ignore this if you a) don't want to read about shit or b) are happy with Brexit.
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I am following a wild food diet for a year as many of you may have gathered from my Instagram posts. It’s been tough going over the winter as it has involved some pretty drastic dietary changes. Black Friday seemed a suitably capitalist day to go wild. I’ve gone from a 90% vegetarian diet at the end of November to predominantly wild meat fare over the winter months. This was mainly caused by snow! A lot of it! It started two days after Christmas and thawed on 16 February. During that 52 day period we only had 8 days, spread out sporadically, without snow. As you can guess, there were not a lot of wild vegetables around. So I’ve been living on wild mushrooms for the freezer and dehydrator, pickles and wild venison (sustainably culled).
This new meat-heavy diet has been something of a shock to my system to say the least! I won’t bore you now with the side effects (occasional dizziness) or my bowels (slow) - I am writing a diary of the whole journey to record it all. Right now though, having mentioned bowels, I want to share some observations about the complete and utter shambles that is Brexit. Yes, they are related…
To track my crazy wild food year I decided to have my microbiome tested. I was interested in seeing how the millions of microbes living in my gut would react to an exclusively wild food diet. My plan was to do a microbiome test before I started and then test every two or three months - as the seasons change and dietary variation ensues - to see what the little critters are up to.
We know that in hunter-gatherer communities who have not adopted a Western lifestyle - the Hadza people of Tanzania; the Yanomami people of Venezuela - their microbiome is quite different to Westerners on a supermarket diet. They have much greater diversity of microbes. We also know that their microbiome changes according to the season. So I thought that recording my own changes was a great idea!
DO NOT READ ON IF YOU’RE EATING…
I decided to use a laboratory called Biomes who had great reviews. Last year, I innocently gave little thought to the fact that they are in Germany! O woe is me.
The first sample was straightforward enough. They send you a box and inside is a little tube. You use the cotton swab (with a very long handle) provided to transfer a tiny bit of your shit into the tube. Screw on the lid, pop it in the opaque bag provided, and phone UPS. Having registered the sample serial number on line, Biomes send you the UPS label for your shit, the cheery UPS driver knocks on the door and off it goes to Germany - as indeed mine did.
Eventually - there was a slight delay as the good lab techies were doing COVID-19 samples - I got an email and - bingo - there were the first results in technicolour available in my portal. There was little of note - I seem to have a pretty cast iron stomach - but then I had nothing to compare it to. They provided a long list of the bacteria so I now have a benchmark. There was a comment that I seemed to be low in protein and so possible borderline B12. As I said, in November I was mainly vegetarian. And yes, I already knew that I was overweight thank you.
After a very different December through January diet, it made sense to send off another sample. Ordered the test kits and they arrived on time. One for me and one for my partner in crime this time. They were dutifully filled with the requisite amount of shit and back they went to Germany on 6 February.
Well you can imagine my surprise when on Valentine’s Day I got shit! Literally. The samples were returned in the post. Despite being cleared labelled SPECIMEN SAMPLE on the outer pack, they needed an invoice in triplicate because now we have brexited (I checked…. it is a verb!). There was a lapse of a few days, due to some very heavy snow, but in the meantime the helpful lady at Biomes sent me some more UPS labels and, critically, some very official-looking invoices. Three of each were duly printed out onto recycled A4 paper and the samples were returned to UPS.
This is what happened to one of them! (Read from the bottom up.)
My little stool sample has done a loop-the-loop of Central Scotland and Northern England. Gone on a little vacation all of its own. It left Bathgate and went to Edinburgh. A day later it pooped down to Preston in Lancashire. I did my Masters degree in herbal medicine at the University of Central Lancashire so perhaps it wanted to revisit old haunts. The next day it cut short a day out in Tamworth, Staffordshire having for some reason decided to return to Edinburgh. Two days later, Edinburgh just wasn’t the same anymore so my shit left town for Glasgow. Who knows what it is doing today? Perhaps it’s forgotten it’s going to Germany. I wait with bated breath….
As for the other sample, it had decided against travelling together. I didn’t realise this until it popped home today. The cheery UPS driver knocked on the door and said he was returning our shit. (Well, he didn’t actually say that but that’s what he meant!)
Apparently this little chap had been to Edinburgh first, had a big bust-up with my shit en route over the border and ended up in Glasgow. That just wasn’t far enough away so in order to put some distance between them - a cooling off period perhaps? - the next chosen destination was up north…. Inverness. In Inverness someone at UPS decided that this shit was travelling without documentation and sent it home.
“There are no documents” the UPS driver told me. “It’s being returned because you need to send invoices with it.”
I looked down at the clear outer envelope. Inside was the opaque envelope and three pieces of paper, folded admittedly, but clearly showing the word INVOICE.
“There are invoices” I told him “ Look, here.” pointing to the invoices in my best COVID-19 distanced manner.
“Oh yea” he said. “Well I wonder why nobody noticed?” Indeed!
We agreed that he would take our shit back and, for convenience, I opened the plastic envelope, extracted the documents, resealed it and personally handed him the invoices - this was the correct procedure he informed me. So now the little shit is off to Cumbernauld. I sincerely hope that it makes it through.
Who knows what state they will be when they arrive?
LOL as I would say if I was under 30 with the smiley face with tears of laughter…
This shitty little story really does sum up all that is wrong with the Brexit shitshow right now. On a more serious note it has been a disaster. At Napiers 25% of our patients are in Europe. We spent our entire Christmas holiday trying to work out what to do once Boris had delivered his pre-Christmas message that there was ‘a deal’. Of course not all the government portals required were up and running - you know how government IT projects swing. Lorry drivers queuing on airfields for Christmas. What a fiasco. Boris and Co. certainly wouldn’t get a job with our wee company. There’s one way of doing things for Ireland and the EU, and another way of doing it for Northern Ireland. Some parcels of prescription blends get to customers in 4 days, others take 2 weeks.
Occasionally one is returned for not having the ‘right documents’ but, resent the next day with the same documents, becomes magically eligible. The newspapers are keeping quiet about most of it - just endless coronavirus news as if Brexit had magically vanished. Meanwhile fishermen are selling their boats, Northern Ireland face empty supermarket shelves, British companies left, right and centre have seen exports dive - just when we’re all struggling to survive coronavirus, imports have become unpredictable and prices are rocketing. Apparently one of the promises to business to leave the EU would be that Brussels ‘red tape’ would be reduced. What a joke, it’s all now in triplicate! These are not teething problems that are going to go away, this is the new world of island commerce.
Now, I do solemnly promise that next week I will return to foraging, plants and the natural world. That is where sanity lies not with the human race. But I just had to get this shit off my chest!
In the meantime, if anyone can think of something good that has come out of Brexit do please list it in the Comments box. Cheerio :)