Whales, Lions (and Wales)

I remember whale meat. Back in the days of rationing after the war several ‘delicacies’ were introduced to the British diet, available ‘off-ration’. These included snoek, spam and whale meat, and women’s magazines carried government propaganda in the form of recipes intended to make them edible.

We got spam fritters in schol dinners well into my youth and they were more than averagely disgusting; many of us carefully removed the pink stuff and ate the batter, hoping to scrape our plates into the pig swill bucket while the dinner lady (school kids back then always said they were trained by the Gestapo) wasn’t looking. We hoped the pigs didn’t object to a little cannibalism.

But whale meat only happened once. My mother cooked it for dinner (what you now probably call lunch) and it was a black day around the table. I don’t think even she took a second mouthful, certainly the rest of us tried this promised delicacy and downed forks – or at least pushed the offending substance to one side of our plates while finishing off the potato and veg. Back then you weren’t allowed to leave anything on your plate, but that day was an exception. Even the cat wouldn’t eat it.

But apparently it is considered a delicacy in Japan, and they have continued fishing for whales under the pretence of ‘research’ but that hasn’t produced enough to meet demand, so they are now proposing to go back to sea, harpoons at the ready to hunt more seriously.

One poster said ‘Eat Kale Not Whale’ and I have some reservations about that. Kale isn’t too bad, but this year it has grown and grown in our garden, doubtless because of our unusual weather (another negative consequence of climate change.) You can have, as I’m finding, too much kale.

The Global March For Whales at least in its London manifestation appeared to be a rather conservative event, with none of the more radical groups who protest against whaling attending, almost as if they had not been informed it was happening. Numbers were low and perhaps it had been deliberately kept quiet to avoid the rowdier elements.

I left before the march – or rather walk along the pavement – to the Japanese Embassy began to photograph another animal event which was supposed to be taking place in Trafalgar Square, and walked around the square without finding it. Then another photographer shouted from across the road and I found a small group in the shade outside a pub.

It was a really sweltering day in the sun, and the organisers had decided it was just too hot to go ahead as planned with a lengthy vigil 4 years after the shooting in Zimbabwe of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter using a crossbow.

The man who was wearing a lion costume would have been seriously in danger of heat stroke had they held a long protest in the sun, and was finding it hot even in the shade, so I think their decision was wise.

Instead they were intending to have a much shorter photocall. I took a few pictures as they were getting ready but had to leave before this took place.

More pictures and more about both events:
Global March For Whales
Remember Cecil the magnificent lion


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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