…Viffers Do Not Contain Any Calories.
I am used to waking with some weirdly disassociated phrase or sentence banging about at the forefront of my cerebellum, desperate to get out before wakefulness blocks any means of escape. (I have written about this before in a short piece from June 2019, There Is No Means of Testing This Hypothesis, but the Fact Remains That the Dog Has Three Ears which you can read here and from which I nicked the photo at the top of this post) These little phrases, fleetingly available to me only in the very moments of waking, trapped, like Steve McQueen was not, on the barbed-wire fences that separate conscious from unconscious, disappear from view as the morning’s more immediate uncertainties kick in: ‘What day is it?’, ‘What time is it?’, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What on earth has died in my mouth overnight?’ This morning the little nosegay documented atop this post clattered through into my conscious mind, refusing, like a spoonful of yesterday’s cold mashed potato congealed in the bottom of a bowl, to be dissipated by the cold-water swirl of dawn, and hammered around until I wrote it down. It did not need to be so conscientious; I could not shake it off now even if I wanted to. It is stark and it is precise: I remember it word for word. It has somehow imprinted itself onto some neuron or other (Do I mean neuron? Is it synapse? I can never remember.) that has strayed off into some darkened recess within my cranium, where it should not be; taking up the private parking space, no doubt, of the whatever-it-is that should be remembering the PIN number for my credit card. It has become impossible to forget. It is still pinging around the cortices of my brain like the little ‘table tennis ball’ in the video games of my youth.
I remember the phrase, I hear it still, but I do not recall the context and, because of that I have no idea of what I was banging on about at the point that daylight punctured my nocturnal bubble. I presume that the words are meant to be reassuring: ‘Don’t worry, Viffers are safe to eat,’ but I can’t be sure. Is it, perhaps, a warning: ‘They have no calories and are, therefore, of no dietary value’? Well that really rather depends on where you stand on celery, doesn’t it? Does food without calories serve any purpose other than to make you crave food with lots of them? Perhaps I am mistaking lack of calories for something else – like lard – and lack of calories may not mean that foodstuffs are deficient in dietary value – just taste.
Initially I thought that I understood what I meant by ‘vicious’ – fiery, as in chilli, or Gordon Ramsay when yelling at the powerless – but now I’m not so sure. What if I meant feisty – as in something alive – if it continued to be vicious, it would have to be alive wouldn’t it – which carries quite a different meaning. Who eats living beasts? Well, pretty much every carnivore except humans if you think about it. Was the sentence spoken by an animal? If so, who gave it rational thought and, more to the point, have I been sleep-anthropomorphising again? Slightly difficult to imagine a weasel, for instance, issuing such a warning to its offspring (although I can, for some reason, imagine a cat doing so). Besides, if it was about to be eaten, it would have every reason to be a little spiky wouldn’t it? Anyway, if it was a living thing, it would contain calories surely. Am I wrong in thinking that anything that consumes calories must, itself, contain them: that a miniscule part of everything you consume becomes a constituent part of you? That when all is done and I am being loaded onto the little steel trolley that will wheel me along to my fiery goodbye, they will find me to be sixty percent chocolate, thirty-nine percent alcohol and one percent cauliflower?
Perhaps it is a good thing. Perhaps whatever-it-is is being encouraged to eat whatever-it-is by whatever-it-is because it has no calories. Perhaps obesity is a growing problem in the weasel world.
But if I was right in the first place, it would be a warning wouldn’t it: a little voice saying, ‘Don’t eat that chilli: it’s volcanically hot. By the time you’ve quenched the fire in your mouth you will already be dreading the consequences elsewhere.’ Or what, after half a dozen pints, most men would consider a dare. As my dad would say, ‘I think they put something in it up the brewery.’ The consumption of beer makes men uniquely susceptible to autosuggestion: ‘You would never be stupid enough to do that.’ ‘Oh yes I would!’ Let’s face it; no Indian Restaurant has ever sold a Phaal to anybody sober. It is on the menu merely to allow the waiters to get their revenge on Stag Parties – and quite bloody right too.
On balance, I am most inclined to adhere to my warning theory. I like a nice moral ending to my dreams. But then, I know, as usual, that you were there way before me, we are still left with one unknown. That this has not occurred to me until now as even being an unknown, may tell you a little of how my brain works – or fails to do at times. Anyway, what I have to consider now is what, exactly, is a Viffer? It is not a mispronunciation of something else, of that I am certain. The word was very definite. I was clear on it when I wrote it down, I am clear about it now. Something tells me that I knew what a Viffer was when I wrote it down, but it is equally adamant that I will never know it again. Unless, perhaps, the Buddhists are right and after a dotage spent chomping celery, I am one day reincarnated as a weasel.