Wavering, unsteady and unsure of foot, the Food Urchin stands atop a hill and he stands alone. The sky is dark yet pierced by a halo of rising amber light and casting through this hue is a mist of fine rain, which coats the Food Urchin’s face like a heavy, wet flannel; he is soaked through but he is happy. And he is happy because after an impromptu repose upon a speeding train, known to some as ‘The Vomit Comet’, the Food Urchin managed to get off at the right stop this time around. And not at some godforsaken coastal town at the end of the line. Smiling, he looks up through the brume, trying to view the stars but there is too much light pollution. So the Food Urchin moves on, steadying himself against the incline, leaning back to counter gravity and promptly trips and falls over as he steps off the kerb.
Eventually, the Food Urchin makes it to the front door and after some intense negotiation with a key and a Yale lock; he quietly tiptoes across the threshold, gently dropping his keys to the side. Suddenly a clatter of metal shatters the silence and under his breath, the Food Urchin curses the radiator for being on the wrong side of the hall. Thirsty, he staggers forth into the kitchen, opens a cupboard in the blackness and with trembling fingers, reaches in, moving objects from side to side. Unable to find a proper receptacle, the Food Urchin settles for a jar of some description, pops the lid and walks to the sink to fill it up with water. After gulping down the sweet, lumpy, raspberry flavoured liquid, he turns and leans on the side and ponders for a moment. He was sure that the glass cabinet was always on the right hand side.
Releasing some indiscreet wind from yonder and with stomach grumbling, the Food Urchin steps forward to the humming cupboard. He taps and listens and then opens the door and is immediately bathed in bright, white, glorious light. With eyes widened in beatific joy, the Food Urchin surveys the many, many marvellous things to eat. A plate of cling film wrapped roast chicken. A jar of pickled eggs. A ramekin of strange, creamy, glutinous matter. And then he sees it; the cheeses, the cheeses that was sent days before and shared at a recent dinner party. Beautiful, wonderful, soft, flinty, nutty cheeses. Cheeses that raised eyebrows and rolled eyeballs with each delicate bite, echoing groans of pleasure around the room. Orgasmic cheeses.
“Hmm cheeses,” the Food Urchin whispers to himself and so he leans forward and grabs the remaining piece of Old Lochnagar; a fine, mature, lingering cheese and finishes it without thought. Like the wild, feral caveman he is. Squinting at a clock hanging in the gloom, the Food Urchin shakes his head and then stands and brushes crumbs of cheese from his chest onto the floor. He unbuttons his shirt, pulls down his jeans, wiggles and kicks his y-fronts across the room and then walks upstairs to his boudoir, naked as the day he was born, except for the odd pair of socks that remain on his feet, releasing more indiscreet wind along the way.
Sinking his head into the pillow, the Food Urchin drifts into a deep sleep almost immediately and as the curtain of unconsciousness falls, a paracosmic world rises up to meet him, catching and enveloping him in a blanket in the form of a fluffy cloud. Unaware of his predicament or any sense of reality, the Food Urchin wakes and peers over the side and surveys a strange land beneath him. A land of rolling hills and vast vistas, of huge mountains and enormous lakes, forest meets dessert which then bleeds into roaming savannas. And in the distance, shines a golden shimmering sun. That the star is rich and yellow does not seem strange to the Food Urchin but the palette of the scenery does, which runs through a spectrum from cream to red with the odd flash of thin blue. The hills look waxy and scarlet; the vistas are pale with cracks of copper blue. The mountains tower in dusky orange and the lakes ripple with warm ochre.
Slowly, as he descends, the Food Urchin begins to see more clearly. And then the penny drops. And so does the cloud, which suddenly swoops down, almost in recognition of the fact. With arms aloft, the Food Urchin bellows out a triumphant yell.
“This is must the fabled Land of Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese!”
Now speeding at speeds close to the speed of sound, the cloud zeroes in on a massive, triangular chunk of Swiss cheese and deposits the Food Urchin into one its many holes with a veritable plop. Sliding further downwards, as though riding a gigantic flume, twisting and turning from left to right, the Food Urchin emits a squeal of pure happiness before looping 360 and coughing up a little bit of sick. Faster and faster still, he carries on, shooting down and down and with the wind whistling past his ears, the Food Urchin begins to panic. And then, from out of nowhere a hole appears in the distance like a white hot penny which grows and grows, until finally, the Food Urchin is shot out like a cork into the air. Now, tumbling like a rag doll, the Food Urchin is screaming but his landing is soft and sure and a cheer rings out in tumultuous applause.
Blinking, it takes the Food Urchin a short while to get used to his surroundings but he is soon aware that of dozens of eyes are set upon him. And that he is sat square, right in middle of a huge round of camembert, all sticky and gooey. Cautiously, tentatively, he rises.
The crowd roars “Welcome to the Land of Cheese!” And a large piece of Montgomery Cheddar steps forward, with open hand and says, “We’ve been expecting you.”
Feeling curiously at ease, the Food Urchin steps down and waves at the odd-looking bunch standing before him. Essentially, the figures all look like various varieties of cheese. Except these cheeses have arms and legs, with a face at their centre; like some character from a children’s book. Like Roger Hargreaves’ long forgotten Mr Cheese. And one by one they step forward. A tall cylindrical fellow introduces themselves as Mr Ragstone. A squat, tough looking chap firmly grasps the Food Urchin’s hand before barking “Berkswells’ the name, unpasteurised is the game.” And a pleasant looking Mrs Kirkham winks a curt “Ow do” before swanning off into the background.
Before long, Montgomery, who seems to be the leader of the gang, makes a signal and music springs out of nowhere.
“Let’s get this party started!” he yells and everyone simultaneously starts dancing, getting into the groove; raving as if the end of the world were nigh. Swept up by the emotions of the scenes unfolding, the Food Urchin can’t help but join in, punching the air with every thudding baseline. With arms wrapped around his new found compadres, the Food Urchin’s heart pounds and waves of euphoria wash over him as he and his fellow cheese friends begin to bounce in perfect unison.
“You’re one of us bro! You’re one of us!” shouts a lively character known as The Bishop, who wafts in and out, pungently cutting moves, throwing shapes. Big fish, little fish, cardboard box. The vibe drops for just one second as a moody and mouldy veined hunk of cheese barges past, shouldering the Food Urchin in the chest but Montgomery is on hand to calm things down.
“Don’t mind Mr Stichelton, he’s still raw about not getting the same PDO as Mr Stilton, don’t worry he’ll get over it.”
So the Food Urchin simply shrugs and gets on with the business of executing some awe-inspiring body popping to the frenzied whoops of the crowd.
As is always the case, good things must come to an end and after what seems like hours and hours of dancing, one by one, the cheeses, sweating, happy yet exhausted drift off and disappear into the background. Mr Brie from Cornwall is so runny from the night’s efforts that he simply dribbles into the ground. The music fades away and the Food Urchin, dripping and fragrant, smelling mostly of cheese, finds himself standing all alone again, staring up into the sky.
In the corner of his eye, the Food Urchin spots a doorway situated in a massive truckle of Black Bomber, a doorway he hadn’t noticed before. So he walks up, turns the handle and walks straight through and finds himself in a strangely familiar room, a kitchen in fact, adorned with fairy lights with walls swathed in blood red paint.
A voice breaks the silence and seductively purrs. “Hello FU, I’ve been waiting for you.” And out of the shadows steps Nigella Lawson, wearing a figure hugging black dress with plunging neckline and holding a saucepan.
“I thought we could have a midnight feast. You do like fondue, don’t you, FU?”
Grinning a lopsided grin and with lazy eye, the Food Urchin simply nods and then gulps as Nigella lifts a finger and delicately plunges an index finger into the pan. As she pulls her finger out, the Food Urchin groans inwardly. Slowly she brings the glistening, molten cheese coated digit up to her mouth and with a wicked glint in her eye, licks her finger clean. Abashed, nervous and anxious, the Food Urchin looks down, to discover that he is wearing nothing but his socks, his odd socks. Like a cat, stalking her prey, Nigella walks up towards the Food Urchin swinging the pan to her side, unconcerned that liquid cheese is flying everywhere.
The Food Urchin tries to interject. “Nigella, the fondue, its going everyw…..” But she silences him by pressing a finger to his lips and drops the pan to the floor. Placing her arms on his broad shoulders, Nigella shakes her hair and stares at the Food Urchin with those big brown eyes. The Food Urchin knows what is going to happen, it’s inevitable, things have gone past the point of no return. So he steps forward, with one foot stepping into a puddle of warm, curdling cheese and he does what he has to do. He kisses her, with tongues.
Writhing in the throes of passion, Nigella grips the Food Urchin’s head and begins to run her hands over his naked, sweaty, cheesy back, clawing him, willing him, wanting him. Gasping, the Food Urchin surfaces for air before sucking back down onto her hot, hot lips and Nigella begins to run a finger, one solitary finger down his neck, down his back and down in between his buttocks. This comes as quite a shock.
“Nigella! No! I am not that kinda guy,” the Food Urchin pants, delirious with lust and fever and so he takes a moment to focus, to focus on those beautiful brown eyes.
Except Nigella isn’t in his arms anymore. The brown eyes remain the same but something isn’t quite right. It’s something to do with the beard.
And then realisation dawns and to the Food Urchin’s horror, Nigella Lawson has changed into Russell Brand and the Food Urchin is locked firmly in his embrace.
“WHAT THE HELL? NIGELLA? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH NIGELLA?”
“What do you mean what have I done with Nigella? What slander! I AM NIGELLA! Now come here and let me slip my elongated digitus secundus manus in between your perpendiculars!”
Screaming, the Food Urchin tries to free himself from the former sex addicts’ grasp, using all his strength, all his might but Russell is too strong, having seemingly wrapped himself around the Food Urchin. Choking, smothering, squeezing, throttling, voices laughing, hairy chest, flashing teeth, gnashing at chunks of cheese, pungent, dripping, into the black, fading, fading, into the black, screaming, drowning, drowning…….
A firm hand plunges in and grabs the Food Urchin even more firmly by the scruff of the neck and whips him back out, out of this nightmare, out from underneath the duvet. Into the cool, calm, quiet of a night on planet Earth and far, far away from the Land of Cheese.
“Are you OK Dan?”
“Ah, ah, yeah, yeah, I’m OK.”
“What time did you get in?”
“I….I don’t know…”
“Did you eat some cheese again before coming to bed?”
“Yeah, I.. I think I did.”
“I don’t know why you do it to yourself. I really don’t. Now c’mon, try to get some sleep.”
And after laying his throbbing head back onto his sodden pillow, the Food Urchin vows to never ever do that again, to eat cheese before bed.
Never, ever again.
Many thanks goes to Farmison.com for sending me a range of their cheeses to sample. The Old Lochnagar, Golden Cross, Dunsyre Blue and aptly named Finn were all absolutely delicious. Apologies however for not going ahead with a more straight forward sort of review. I sort of got carried away.
I blame your cheeses.