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IT was a major story. One of the true shock/horrors of the eighties. People wept on the streets of Bolsover. The story seemed simple enough.
Andy Rourke, bass player with the legendary Manchester band The Smiths, had brazenly wandered into a chippy in Oldham and purchased a....a.... a meat pie!
There was photographic evidence of this.
Smothered in mushy peas in the peculiarly Lancastrian tradition.
Rourke, along with drummer Mike Joyce were guided by the benevolent despotism of charismatic Smiths’ leader Morrissey, arguably the most famously vegetarian singer of all time.
Once, there would be a time when the bass players of famous bands would be caught handling all manner of dubious substances...but to be caught with a meat pie?
Clearly the world was changing.
However, having taken the pie, and thereby courting the chagrin of the mighty Moz, Andy Rourke never again seemed to quite fit so snugly within the ranks of the band. It was the mid-eighties in Manchester.
A time when fans of The Smiths would wrap themselves in raincoats and stare at polytechnic floors wearing dour expressions. I mention all this because it was precisely the time when I started to feel distinctly uneasy about my new-found vegetarian leanings.
My friends, to a lad, had been born into a world punctuated by daily servings of meat and two veg.
Sitting with them in the burger emporiums of Dukinfield, nibbling at the edges of a lentil burger always seemed rather humiliating.
However, it was Morrissey who changed everything and cleared away the freak-like image of vegetarianism, at least among the new Mancunians.
Once the second Smiths album, ‘Meat is Murder’, entered my friends’ record collections, I was duly relieved.
How could they continue to hold me to ridicule, mock me when their Dansettes blurted out lyrics such as ‘This beautiful creature must die’ and ‘the meat you so fancifully fry’ and so on?
As it happens, my favourite vegetarian of all time is from the latter category.
Although I don’t generally spend my time among the anarcho punk fraternity, and I do sometimes find their conversations lacking in finesse, they are usually pretty harmless.
Case in point, Ged from Carnforth (real name withheld).
Now Ged was not the most saintly vision you might see on any given day.
Hordes of Rangers fans would cross the street to avoid him....if you catch my drift.
But Ged would not harm a fly – literally.
Then came his moment...his calling.
It happened one night when he was sitting cross-legged in the corner, listening to pro-veggie lyrics from some band called...oh I can’t remember, ‘The ‘Orrible Gits’ or something.
It doesn’t matter.
A flash of enlightenment crossed Ged’s face.
He steadfastly pushed his jumbo sausage roll away and shook his head. Never again would Ged savour the flavour of animal flesh.
Today, I am reliably informed, Ged lives in semi-gentility in Shropshire.
Turning vegetarian meant more to him than simply stopping eating meat.
It was about nurturing a respect for nature and living in some kind of harmony.
Andy Rourke, I believe, has not lurked in an Oldham chippy for many years.