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I am at one with Albert Einstein... and Bob Dylan, Doris Day, Elvis Costello, Joanna Lumley, Tolstoy, Vincent Van Gogh and all of the B52s.
Add further names to that list - Morrissey and Hitler - and you will probably know I am talking about vegetarians, a curious breed who accepted my membership 23 years ago. (I am not at one with Hitler, I hasten to add, apart from his eating habits).
My transformation took place in a dark age.
A time when it was expected of vegetarians to wear yellow jumbo' corduroy trousers, rainbow coloured jumpers, Jesus sandals, move to a bedsit in Chorlton-cum-Hardy to listen to Pentangle albums while burning strawberry incense, have beards and attend meetings about the merits of real ale.
At the time of my decision, I was forced to deflect the looks of disgust and horror on the faces of my friends.
While I accepted this with, I like to think, good grace, I did not realise that I was about to be hurled in a whirl of tiresome social banter that would keep me imprisoned for more two decades.
"I am at one with Albert Einstein... and Bob Dylan, Doris Day, Elvis Costello, Joanna Lumley, Tolstoy, Vincent Van Gogh and all of the B52s."Mick Middles
I have long since lost count of the number of times I have been asked: "Don't you ever fancy sinking your teeth into a really juicy steak?"
The answer to that is too obvious to state.
However, I am all too aware that it is a question that precedes an intense grilling' on the subject of vegetarian ethics.
More often than not, the conclusion will be reached that I am little more than a deluded, wishy washy and badly dressed liberal with an unhealthy penchant for cous cous.
I try to ignore this and, to be honest, if someone within my close vicinity demands that I cook them a steak...I will, albeit begrudgingly, and I will moan about it all evening, if not for evermore.
Although we now live in more enlightened times and many of us have children who arrive home from primary school boldly declaring their vegetarian intent, (I am not eating any more dinosaurs) there are still a few areas of life that pose problems for all but the most determined of veggies.
For example, vegetarians should never go to France.
At least not to eat.
This is a problem for me because, in truth, France is my favourite country.
Apart from at mealtimes - and in hotels. I defend this sweeping generalisation with a memory of the time I was informed by a steely French waiter that the chef has a special vegetarian meal for you.' Well, being English, I had been used to this statement being followed by some insipid microwaved mush called vegetable bake' or similar.
What I was not prepared for was a plate adorned with a dozen different varieties of...well for want of a better word, slugs'.
Noticing my pained expression, the waiter informed me that: "It's ok...they are cooked in garlic.. especially for you."
How sweet. I wonder if this ever happened to Hitler?