Andy Richardson column: Sew, this is how to make a hat. Or not
My mate kills rabbits. Vegans stop reading now. He’s not a late night prowler, terrorising outdoor cages, or anything sociopathic like that. Instead, he’s a venerable fella who’s in with the countryside crowd.
He’s one of the two best rabbit-catchers in the country, practising age-old skills to keep numbers down and protect crops. He’s humane – tender, even – about his work. Now hold that image thought there.
My other mate is a butcher. He’s got an online following of a million-and-something and films himself showing social media followers around the world how to prepare food for the pot. He looks a bit like Elvis, has tattoos all over his hands and is the funniest man this side of Peter Kay. We all love him. Hold that thought right there, too. You’ll need it later.
My third mate is a chef. He cooks really nice stuff for hundreds of customers and regularly wins awards. He’s a creative type and gets his rocks off by making customers happy. So, we have three men. One kills rabbits. One butchers rabbits. One cooks rabbits. #Simples.
Now, let me begin.
In my spare time, I make books. It’s what I like to do when other people are watching TV or playing football. And I hang out with men like Rabbit, Butcher and Cook so that we can write about how proper food is caught, killed and cooked. We call it fun. Vegans call it hate. The world is a strange place. Oh, and if there are any sneaky vegans still reading, I told you to stop. It’s for your own safety. I have nothing against vegans, though I couldn’t eat a whole one.
So, it is a normal day. Rabbit, Butcher and Cook are doing their thing. We are photographing 40-odd rabbit dishes and the animals have been humanely dispatched and prepared. A thought occurred: “What’s happening with the furs?”
The rabbit-catcher shrugged. “There’s no use for them, they go into compost. People don’t want them.”
I ummed and aaahed about the ethics of that. Surely, it’s better to use the furs, like our caveman ancestors and people who live in cold places like Yellowknife? Respect the animal and all that. And besides, the worms in the compost would surely freak out if they were expected to eat a rabbit skin.
My mate agreed and gave me the 30 spare furs. “Good luck,” he said. Result.
We visited a website that hold us how to cure them. We were to remove the membrane from the fur before placing in salty water. We put Butcher on it. But Butcher was too busy making himself look like Johnny Cash and left the membranes on while we were looking the other way.
The furs were immersed in salty water then dried for three weeks.
Meanwhile, back home, I talked to She Who Must Be Obeyed and outlined my Man Skills. “I will be bringing fur,” I told her. She melted, like Wilma Flinstone, while looking twice as pretty. And then I did something that I thought was super generous: I bought her a sewing machine. AS A GIFT. A hat for her and a rug for me, that was my plan.
Apparently, that is a Bad Thing. My boss says women like diamonds, chocolates and flowers but not rabbit fur and a sewing machine. Oh well. What do us autists know about love?
Google, in all its wisdom, latched onto my plan like a laser-guided, heat-seeking, ninja-thingiemajig. It bombarded me with adverts for sewing machines. And now every day of my life, I am trolled by sewing machine manufacturers who imagine I’m an offshoot of JD Sports and spend my time making clothes. I open a browser window, I get an advert for a Brother. I click on an email, I get spam from AEG, Bernette, Decor, Elna, Highline, Jaguar, Jata, Necchi, Singer and Toyota. Those manufacturers and Google’s all-powerful metrics are determined to educate me about Overlockers, Coverstitch, Embroidery Machines, Quilting Machines and lord knows what else.
But I’ve skipped ahead. Back to the fur.
I collected the rabbit skins from Cook.
“I think we’ve got a problem,” he said.
I ignored his negativity. What could go wrong with Rabbit, Butcher and Cook at the helm?
Sadly, everything. The month-old membrane that butcher had left on the skins had started to make a smell like a stained car seat. I held my nose. The rabbit skins held theirs. Cook laughed and our merry adventure was at an end. The compost bin opened wide. The worms jumped for joy.
So now, I have no rabbit rug. She Who Must Be Obeyed has no fur hat. Though there is a really expensive sewing machine, not yet out of its box, with which we can’t make a rug or hat because there is no fur. Damn.