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A Substantial Type of Egg

A monologue inspired by the recent confusion in England over what constitutes a ‘substantial meal’.

The British government announced that as of December 1, pubs in any area designated as Tier 2 can only sell alcohol if it’s alongside a substantial meal. Not surprisingly, the term ‘substantial’ was open to interpretation. Traditional pub snacks were ruled out and a Minister said that a Cornish pasty on its own would not constitute a substantial meal, unless it came on a plate, with a side of chips or salad. But wait, it was then suggested that a scotch egg probably would count as a substantial meal if it was served at a table.

Confused? Yup, same as the rest of us. So I felt we should really hear from those directly affected.

You can read more of the nonsense here or go ahead and read the monologue, with the dialect of your own choosing.  With thanks to Lily Bevan for the fantastic workshop that inspired this.

PASTIES FOR THE COMMON MAN, A Monologue

SETTING: A bar in Tier 2 region of England, December 2020

Me? A bar snack? You’re joking. Scampi fries are snacks. Pork scratchings are snacks. Jacobs Mini Cheddars are snacks. What you’re looking at right here is not a snack. And what about you? An egg wrapped in sausage meat and rolled in orange breadcrumbs. Best enjoyed at picnics and cheap funeral buffets. But all of a sudden you’re ‘it’, you’re now a ‘substantial meal’, whatever that means.  But me? I’m only substantial if I come with a salad or chips. Me? The cornish pasty. The original packed lunch. World’s gone mad.

There weren’t serving any salad and chips down the mines, I can tell you that. That’s right, I can trace my ancestors back to the Cornish tin miners. You know what they created us for? Lunch. A filling lunch for hard-working men. How dare you call me stodgy, I am sturdy. Meat. Vegetables. Suet. Pastry. And we’ve not reinvented ourselves. No need to. But you? You try too hard with all your artisinal, gourmet, gastro nonsense. People pleasers. You can gussy yourself up with all the sage and chilli you want, you’re still an egg wrapped in sausage meat.

Honestly I feel sorry for you. You think this is your golden moment but you’re just a sorry excuse for a few pints of Fosters in a Tier 2 pub. You do know they’re not talking about you because they love you? Half the country can’t stand you. They’re laughing at you. You’ve heard the one about how you make a scotch egg?

1. Put eggs on to boil. 2. Pour yourself a Scotch. 3. Drink the Scotch. 4. Throw away the eggs.

Ah, but it’s not your fault. You’ve been unfairly promoted. You’re out of your depth, mate. You’re a cold starter. You’re a prawn cocktail. Hummus and carrot batons. Chicken liver pate. They don’t come to a scotch egg when they need comfort and warmth. No-one’s desperate for you when they’re freezing, hungry and running for the last train.

No, I’m not old-fashioned. It’s called tradition. You may be cock of the walk right now but pride comes before a fall, my friend. My roots go deep in this country. We’re Cornish pasties. Born from Cornish hands. But you? You’re not even Scottish. You’re a fake, pretending to be something you’re not. Trying to claim a heritage that isn’t yours. We don’t need chips and a salad to know our worth. We don’t need a knife, a fork, and a napkin to make us feel important. We’ll still be here long after you’re gone.

So…how many of you have they…er…sold? Oh I’m not comparing numbers, I was just wondering. I’m not bothered. Couldn’t care less.

What’s that? What are they bringing out now? Jumbo sausage rolls? Unbelievable. Did you know these were coming out? Cheap imitators. Sausage meat filling wrapped inside a flaky pastry crust? Wonder where they got that idea from? We can’t let them do this. We need to work together. You and me. We were here first. They can’t come in and take our place. What do you mean you’re pairing up with them? You can’t do that. This isn’t fair. You’re supposed to be on my side. What happened to loyalty? You upstarts, you’re all the same.

Fine. I don’t need you. I am enough. I am a substantial meal. No matter what they say.

I am a proud pasty. We will prevail.

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