Michael Jackson, Buzz Aldrin and purple cauliflowers

Centuries ago the world was not ‘crazy’ and ‘exciting’ like it is now.

People went about their business with few of our modern concerns. They didn’t have electricity bills to pay because there was no electricity. The sky was black at night because that was how God designed it, and man hadn’t invented street lighting to alter it.

The earth was flat and the only problem with that was that if you lived close to the edge and your son kicked his football over the garden wall, he was never going to get it back.

You grew your own vegetables and you knew where you were in that respect. Peas were green, corn was yellow and cauliflowers were a sort of cream colour.

cauli
Come on, now, eat your greens, errr, purples

Yet recently, in the distinctly uncosmopolitan environs of a suburban supermarket, they were selling purple ones. Not a cauliflower with a slight purple tinge but a gaudy, where-did-I-put-my-sunglasses hue more often seen in cheap sugary drinks.

What, you have to ask yourself, is happening? Is it April Fools Day already, because the government has moved it to another date just for a laugh?

But no, it’s these wacky times we live in.

Apparently these caulis are not injected with dye. They’re just bred that way, the producers insist, and you can also get them in orange and green.

All is clearly not what it seems.

Research reveals – and those distant ancestors on the flat earth might not be surprised to hear this – that until the 17th century most carrots were white, yellow or purple. The orange pigment was added by Dutch plant breeders looking for a way to celebrate Holland’s royal family, whose traditional colour it is.

It’s like deciding that, although the earth is perfectly okay as a globe, we’re going to flatten it anyway. Why? Because we can.

But it’s the sort of thing that can upset delicate souls. We need consistency, reliability, facts that cannot be changed. Otherwise, what is a fact?

If a cauliflower doesn’t look like a cauliflower in a no-nonsense, down-to-earth town, how are we ever going to believe anything again?

As it is, things have crept into our lives that we laymen can’t explain, but just have to take as read.

Electricity, for instance. You can’t see it, smell it, taste it or hear it. It doesn’t dribble out of the sockets when there is nothing plugged in. By such simple criteria, it can’t exist.

Almost 50 years after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, there are still people who say he didn’t – that it was all a set-up, an elaborate hoax. That theory gained credibility when an unmanned Chinese vessel landed and found no trace of an American presence. No Coke cans, no KFC buckets, no ripped condom sachets, nothing.

aldrin
Hey Buzz: somebody’s nicked your cauliflower

But hang on a minute. Isn’t it expecting a bit much for the stub of Armstrong’s cigar to last half a century? Even if he’d written ‘N.A. woz here’ in the dust, that would have blown away by the time he was back in his seat and the cabin crew had brought round the tea and biscuits.

There is a school of thought that the Chinese mission was equally bogus anyway. They weren’t really up there at all. They filmed it in that suspiciously big car park round the back of the Lotus Garden takeaway.

We all supposedly benefit from innovations developed by NASA scientists. Teflon, for instance. What were they doing? Trying to save room by not having to take a bowl, a scouring pad and some washing up liquid into space? And non-stick pans don’t really work, anyway.

And then there are pens that write upside down or underwater. Thanks a lot, guys, but a cure for cancer would be nice. Most of your gimmicks end up on American TV shopping channels and in catalogues of stuff nobody really wants.

So who is to say the purple cauliflower wasn’t deliberately created so scientists could monitor the progress of your meals through your digestive system? ‘Err, Houston, we have a problem, Colonel Aldrin’s dinner is coming back up.’

The flow of brilliant ideas seems to have slowed since the US found different ways of wasting billions of dollars. Possibly the most recent application,– and this has never been officially confirmed – was the technology that enabled Michael Jackson to change from black to white. After all, if it was such a good idea, why aren’t there repigmenting salons in every high street?

jackson
Yes, I know I look unhealthy. I’m a trendsetter.

‘Morning, Shanice. I’ve got a Chinese New Year party this weekend, so I’m going to go for the rather pasty, slightly spotty chef look. I’ve already got the jeans that don’t fit and I’m doing the terrible haircut myself. So turn the colour machine down to minus 5 and let’s get authentic.’

 

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