Inspired by marmalade

It is not often that I find political inspiration whilst preparing breakfast, but such was the case this morning. With my glass of milk I had marmalade on toast. The marmalade was Fortnum and Mason’s Old English Hunt Marmalade, and the jar comes with a label bearing a picture of a fox wearing a crown.

The label states:

“The Pytchley Hunt has been well chronicled from the mid 17th century. Fortnum & Mason MarmamladeThe traditional pre-hunt breakfast prizes the energy-giving properties of marmalade, and this medium-cut recipe is exactly how they like it.”

This product, it seems to me, embodies a lot of British attitudes to tradition; proud of the past, happy to reference it, using the iconography in a modern setting. But being proud of the past and being happy to use it in a modern context does not mean that the British want their society cast in aspic, unchanging and harkening back to some mythical past Eldorado.

Actually, hunts are not banned – only that part that includes the chasing down and extermination of a wild animal is. Drag hunting is perfectly acceptable and is the sort of compromise that allows tradition to sit with modern-day sensibilities.

Of course, there are some who want to maintain a mid 17th century tradition unchanged. Their arguments conveniently ignore reality. The mid 17th century was a time of regicide, of medicine and science still dominated by quackery and superstition, of fledgling empire and slavery.

We no longer send children up chimneys or throw our sewage into the street. Perhaps we need a trade-off here – those who insist on the 17th century barbarism of hunting foxes should also take the rest of what that century had to offer – no electricity, cars, anaesthetic or medicine. This is, of course, unrealistic. What the 17th and 21st centuries do have in common, though, is the belief in the primacy of law. Law must be obeyed; bad laws should be changed by Parliament, not flouted.

Life before electricityI am a fan of tradition. I belong to the National Trust and enjoy what English heritage has to offer. The historic houses and castles that I visit no longer have a retinue of servants. There is a balance between showing the past and catering for the present.

This is what those who would hunt must realise – by all means dress up and enjoy your country rides, but accept that society has moved on. It is no longer acceptable to inflict pain in the name of sport.

The fox on the Old English Hunt Marmalade label wears a crown. This can be interpreted in a number of ways. I like to think that since the extinction of bears and wolves in the British Isles the fox now sits atop the food chain – the king of the British jungle. Let’s not demean his presence by allowing barbarism to return.

(It may seem unbearably posh to enjoy Fortnum and Mason’s marmalade, but it was in a hamper bought for my wife as a treat. Mason’s Old English Hunt Marmalade is delicious – buy it here.)


2 Responses to “Inspired by marmalade”

  1. 1 Sue Trayford
    August 29, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    It is “sick” that David Cameron is even using the hunting ban to win votes. Killing animals for “fun” belongs in the dark ages. We should do more to stop those who are still hunting.

  2. 2 foxinparliament
    August 30, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Being stuck in the dark ages seems a place David Cameron and his Shadow Cabinet appear happy to be. Their arrogance is what leads them to think they have a right to scrap the hunting ban and they care nothing of what the public is.

    If given the chance they will distort democracy to get the repeal passed Parliament at all cost. They might as well change their name from the Conservative Party to the Countryside Alliance. For there is no difference. They campaign together, they share the same aims and they seek to ignore the wishes of the majority of public together…

    The nasty party is alive and well with David Cameron.

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