Charles Butler hannibal at
Sun Dec 19 18:23:21 EST 2004

> There's a fine line anyway between having high principles and being a
> crank.  One of my great-uncles was a dandy, but also a vegetarian, and
> suffered greatly because really the only non-leather footwear he could
> buy in those days was either rather nasty canvas shoes or wellington
> boots, neither of which is very smart.  To suffer for his vegetarian
> principles was fine; to try to force other members of the family also to
> desist from wearing leather shoes was *not*.  When he began to ask total
> strangers in the street how they could reconcile their boots with their
> consciences, it was felt that this was going a bit far into the realms
> of galloping eccentricity.

My grandfather's family (and hence my father when he was young) were all
brought up vegetarians in the '20s and '30s, when anything but a nut roast
was hard to come by. In fact, as Quaker Esperantists with a penchant for
folk-dancing and clean living, they were just the kind of people who might
have aroused Lewis's bafflement. It's not a life I've ever been drawn to,
but when I met my aunt the other day I must admit I admired and envied her -
still out dancing four times a week in her mid-80s, besides doing a pretty
mean lick on an electric guitar. (Her husband, 91, hadn't been able to drive
her to the station because he was having his daily power swim.) I wonder if
the Scrubbs are living yet?

I seem to remember a couple (actually brother and sister, IIRC) rather of
this type - but with spiritualist leanings - in one of the William Brown
stories. They were rather sympathetically treated, their naive eccentricity
having as its corollary an open-mindedness and willingness to take William
on his own terms, and even to try his ghastly liquorice water.

> obDWJ, one might, after reading *Black Maria*, think she had a down on
> healthy eating: consider the meusli.  I can remember when that was
> definitely regarded as "crank food" by almost everyone, including anyone
> who had been lumbered with it as the only thing available for breakfast
> at the houses of well-meaning healthy-living aunts.  It can be as
> balanced and healthy as it likes, if one doesn't happen to like meusli
> it might just as well be sawdust with chewy bits in, particularly if
> it's served with skimmed milk.  That doesn't mean people shouldn't be
> allowed to eat it if they want to, but nobody ought to be allowed to
> force meusli on innocent little children.

obDWJ, we might add to the muesli animus Angus Flint's association with


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