Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shelf Barker's Diet, Unplugged

Scotch eggs, which could be made with Mrs. Shelf Barker's Luganica; some doctors say this is heart attack food. Shelf says it's darn good. (Wiki Commons)

Apparently, if I want Shelf Barker to live a long, happy life with minimal bathroom breaks, so he will be able to voice his unique brand of intelligence in a couple of adventures a year, I should, according to the doctors, take away all his favourite foods, including:
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Orange juice
  • Prunes
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Spicy foods
  • Onions
  • Aged cheese and cream cheese
  • Condiments
Also listed as dangerous to one’s health on the HealthCentral website  were artificial sweeteners and processed foods. But Shelf doesn’t eat those anyway. Regarding the first, he’s not an idiot, just a driving instructor. Regarding the second, see the first.

But the rest of it? Here’s what Shelf would say:

  • Alcohol: “I’ve got to relax after a day on the roads with the likes of hedgerow man. Who’s that? The 17-year-old who, on pulling into his own driveway at the end of his third lesson, scraped my entire  learner car down the hedgerow.” (Hint: Hedgerows in the UK aren’t made of hedges. They are made of rocks, thinly veiled with vegetation, but quaintly named.)
  • Coffee: “What? You want me to fall asleep at the wheel? I really do need to be awake and alert while teaching, as annoying to my higher self as that might be.”
  • Orange juice: “Possibly you recall that England is sun-deprived. How else will I acquire sufficient vitamins to survive the stress of my life?”
  • Prunes: “OK, few people really need prunes. But look at it this way; the only exercise I get is yelling “STOP” so my muscle tone isn’t always as hardy as I might need it to be, what with sitting on my bum all day. Lounging about, you might say.”
  • Fizzy drinks: “And I should rehydrate myself with what? Water? WATER? Please. The only chance I have to get rehydrated is during petrol stops. If I began bringing a bottle of water to the car rather than two Cokes, I’d get NO respect from the boy racers.”
  • Spicy foods: “You do recall I am married to an Italian woman, right? She cooks little enough; turning down a meal would probably be the first step toward divorce. And as I mentioned, she’s beautiful. And she puts up with me.”
  • Onions: “It might be better to avoid onions. But I long ago realized that eating a good few onions before some of my worst nightmare students got in the car would at least help them keep their distance. There was that one whose hand kept wandering toward…well, never mind. Onions remain.”
  • Aged cheese and cream cheese: “See Spicy Foods.”
  • Condiments: “Only little kids eat sandwiches and chips without sauces of any sort. I’m old enough that my saliva is worn out, and I need some sauce on the bread to help the Spar store sandwich slide down. Not that Spar sandwiches aren’t good; they just need a little help from some mayo or brown sauce.”
 “It’s hard to figure out what the medical profession is thinking. You should see the list of foods (a mere five categories, one of which is water; is that a food?) they suggest to calm down an overactive bladder. Maybe they aren’t thinking, at least of anything except ways to get people to clean out the larder and restock it, until next time the medical profession gets a wild hair about this or that. Maybe they’re in cahoots with the major food companies. Maybe that would be a fit inquiry for BarkerBarker Investigations Ltd. Maybe I’ll have to suggest it to The Cobra.”

Crash Course is available in paperback from; shortly from To order a paperback in the UK, just click here. Not only will you get a nice, clean copy; it will be signed by the author at no extra charge!

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