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Lamb to the slaughter

PUBLISHED: 08:48 18 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:00 06 July 2010

ASK most children where the meat on their plates comes from and they will say the supermarket.

Cleanly packaged in sterile polystyrene trays and cellophane, perhaps even with a handy recipe printed on the back.

ASK most children where the meat on their plates comes from and they will say the supermarket.

Cleanly packaged in sterile polystyrene trays and cellophane, perhaps even with a handy recipe printed on the back. Sometimes a man in a van delivers it to their kitchen wrapped in plastic bags.

Their meat is fluffy pink mince, blobs of chicken fillet and sausages clean, clinical and pan ready.

They never need to make the connection between stuff with gravy on their plates and a living breathing animal.

Unless children are frogmarched into the (rapidly declining) old fashioned butcher's shop, with animal carcasses dangling from giant meat hooks inches from their heads, and believing meat is merely what comes with vegetables, its origins in aisle three in the supermarket.

So hats off to headteacher Andrea Charman who set out to give her primary school children in Kent lessons about the proper origins of their food.

Enter Marcus, a lamb she brought into the school to be raised and fattened ready for the meat market.

The children were to watch its rearing and wave goodbye as he went to slaughter, his carcass butchered and raffled off to parents. For £1 a ticket, parents could win half a lamb reared by their children.

The children were all for the plan but the parents were outraged. Fearful of the traumatic effect on their children, they rallied to the defence of Marcus.

Now these children were the age where they probably spent time virtual shooting and stabbing on games consoles. Bizarrely their parents saw the need to protect them from a face of life, the basics of the meat industry.

The children themselves had voted via the school council for Marcus to come to a butchered end.

But the parents, overcome by sentimentality, were having none of it, talking up nightmares for their children caused by their “ickle lamby” killed for chops.

The children were realistic and matter-of-fact about it. Whatever. He wasn't being slaughtered at the front of assembly.

All rescue attempts - including the offer of a safe haven from Paul O'Grady - failed and Marcus met his maker and the dinner table.

With hindsight, a wonderful thing, one wonders if Mrs Charman would have gone ahead with the whole meat lesson had she anticipated the outcry. Planting a few veg would have sufficed.

But hats off to her for sticking to her guns - and the democratic vote of her children - and going ahead with his slaughter.

One sheep, so many headlines, so much fuss. It merely reinforces the rising anthropomorphism of society - we view animals as having human characteristics.

Marcus wasn't a cuddly pet with human emotions and feelings, all white and sweet. He was bred to be meat.

The parents' time and money would have been better served starting a campaign against battery hens and disgraceful treatment of animals in the meat trade. Marcus couldn't have had a happier life.

Children need to be educated where their meat comes from and taught the rudiments of ethical farming - parents obviously aren't doing it. As long as they want their meat to have a happy life and know the difference they can do their bit to stop factory farming.

And if they don't like what they've seen they can turn vegetarian. At least it will be their own and an informed decision based on facts and not sentimentality.

A PUPPY is for life not just for Christmas.

A child is for life and not just adoption.

Somewhere in the mad world mix, cutesy puppies and kittens have been overtaken by cuddly infants abandoned in orphanages in far-flung areas of the world as the “must have” new big thing.

Brigitte Bardot rescued cats, Madonna rescues children.

Everyone wants to take one home. Well “celebrities” with more money than they know what to do with do - want to adopt a baby, that is. Puppies and kittens are so last season, don't you know.

Rescuing abandoned babies is the 2009 big thing. The new object of desire in every opulent mansion on millionaire's row.

Now the grand dame of pop, Elton John, is talking about following Madonna and Bradjelina in giving a home to a 14-month-old Ukrainian boy from an HIV orphanage.

At 62, with his long-time partner David Furnish, understandably, he wants to rescue a child he met visiting the orphanage. Anyone without a swinging brick for a heart would want to give an abandoned baby a home.

But after 62 years doing exactly as he pleases, swanning around the world, spoilt and pampered, he feels ready to be a father.

The little boy in the crimson Thomas the Tank Engine might be adorable but adorable babies grow into terrible two's toddlers, tantruming 10-year-olds and surly sulky teenagers needing constant care and love and parental presence throughout.

Children are hard work.

And hasn't David Furnish got his hands full dealing with enough temper tantrums, flouncy fits and unreasonable demands of the spoilt and pampered already keeping Elton in check?

POVERTY is blamed for children pitching up at school not toilet trained, unable to use a knife and fork, communicate properly and lacking a range of social skills.

Teachers are shocked at the little savages pushed into their care at the school gates.

But to blame poverty is rubbish. This lack of basic social skills has nothing to do with a lack of money and everything to do with laziness and a rank shirking of responsibility among parents, and I use the word biologically.

Children in the most poverty-stricken deprived areas of the Third World know how to behave decently and are instilled with manners and the basics of their own culture from their parents and extended family working together to nurture them.

Here, we've been nannied so much by authority, parents are waiting for someone else to do it then blame everyone else when no one does.

The only way children learn how to live is bit by bit from their parents. It costs nothing but takes time and effort.

It's piffle to blame poverty. After all, in these houses where five-year-olds still wear nappies and eat with their fingers, monster plasma screen TVs dominate their living space and a PC is connected to the Internet.

PERSONALLY, I don't care how much the BBC pays Bruce Forsyth, Jeremy Clarkson, Jonathan Ross or Graham Norton.

But I do care about the obscene amounts of NHS money paid to outside consultants to come in and sort out management and financial messes by hugely paid over-promoted managers off sick with stress because of the mess they've made.

If the total figures of NHS money paid out to consultants, added to the amount of sick pay paid to people promoted above their ability were published compared to the salaries of front-line medical staff, there would be a revolution.

HERE we go again. Disgraceful on-pitch behaviour from professional footballers that think they're above decent conduct.

The sort of conduct of Emmanuel Adebayor and his ilk sets a shocking example to children. They mimic their heroes, their arrogant provocative goal “celebrations” and unsportsmanlike like behaviour.

Youth football used to be fun. A game to enjoy.

Now, watching older boys play - my son now plays in an under 13 league - the aggression, attitude and mouthiness of some of the boys is sickening, even more so because it's encouraged by some parents on the sideline.

Before now, the parents were the problem. But we could laugh at their stupidity for taking a children's game so seriously. The boys on the pitch largely behaved themselves.

But obsessive, screaming parents are reaping what they've sown - the boys are older, stronger and developed their parents' big attitudes and big mouths.

It stinks.

If my son ever behaved like boys I've seen he'd be pulled off and kept off until he mended his ways. He hates the conduct but loves the game. Should he give up because of other meatheads are spoiling his sport?

Once a game of skill is turning into ugly battles for thugs egged on by adults.

And the problem is made worse by the games being refereed often by the clubs themselves - which inevitably means by a father.

League officials need to introduce a zero tolerance rule and players like Adebayor need to be booted out of the game and fined heftily until the poisonous behaviour is eradicated.

FOR women usually dismissed so much as empty vessels and walking wardrobes, WAGS are being credited with mysterious all-pervading power.

Fabio Capello has banned shopping machine WAGs from next year's World Cup blaming their presence for the team's less than perky performance in the last World Cup.

These women might look knock out but blaming a few leggy air heads for the failure of professionals to deliver is stretching it some - unless they managed to hypnotize their men to play badly with their coloured contact lenses in some kind of far fetched elaborate betting scam.

Capello might be Italian but he's learning the British way pretty quickly - how to blame someone else for our failure and pass the buck.

But he hasn't long to find another scapegoat for South Africa. The fans not shouting loud enough perhaps?

Or that the boys are missing their families, diddums?

IT'S what women everywhere have been waiting for - fat transference.

How many times have you heard women moan: “If only I could take a bit from here and put it here?”

Now cosmetic surgeons can. They can move excess fat from thighs and stomach and move it to the bust.

Handy two in one surgery. A woman must have invented it.

SO everyone who comes within a whiff of a child in volunteering or work has to be vetted and declared “safe.”

So any offer to ferry your daughter's Brownie six swimming will need to come with a bona fide check to prove you've no previous convictions.

This Government's legacy will be a culture of fear where everyone is seen as a potential child abuser and children view every adult as a threat.

Such a scheme will be burdensome and the wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly.

Those not put off giving their time in the face of red tape, will probably give up waiting in the grinding back log.

The whole thing is absurd; even if Ed Balls offered review this week waters it down.

And what's worse than spreading a culture of fear - making people believe that sketchy checks makes everyone safe.

Another unwieldy, knee jerk badly thought through reaction.

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