Well, if they’re all talking about custom tariffs, foreign imports and border controls, then so can we. There are lots of things that should clearly be prohibited. Some of these are obvious like illegal drugs and the odd nuclear weapon or two, plus goods such as rhino horns, crocodile handbags and elephant ivory. In fact, any products derived from rare and exotic animals should be universally banned as they’re much better left attached to the real animals themselves—preferably when they’re still alive!
Likewise, if something is harmful to our Planet or the wildlife upon it, then it’s a good idea to stop it coming into the country. For example, just because shampoo is apparently more effective in cleaning hair if it contains millions of tiny plastic microbeads, it doesn’t follow that it’s OK to fill our oceans with the stuff. What seems like an initial good idea in small doses often becomes a global horror story if left unchecked and the fact that a large part of our oceans is already suffused with plastic rubbish is deeply depressing. When I eat my cod and chips, I don’t need the extra nutritious benefit of polyethylene (even if the taste can be smothered with tomato ketchup), so I would favour a ban on all plastic microbeads. And while we’re about it, let’s ban plastic bags and plastic bottles and synthetic milk cartons and polystyrene packaging…
Similarly, you can make an argument to stop imports of everything that’s bad for us as human beings. This means a complete ban on tobacco and cigarettes on health grounds. Since we spend a lot of time trying to make the stuff look unattractive by covering the packs with ghastly pictures of blackened lungs, we might as well save everybody a lot of bother by banning them completely.
I suppose the same goes for alcohol. Given the current crusading path of Health & Safety, they’ll probably soon be covering bottles of vodka and whisky with nasty images of dead people to try and put us off drinking the stuff. But it won’t make much difference—hardened addicts drink with their eyes closed. And if the Health police want to exclude everything that’s bad for us, we have to also ban all sugary fizzy drinks. The nation would be much healthier and our teeth would smile prettier if all such liquids could be stopped at the border. We might as well ban the import and sale of sugar itself. This would cause a national identity crisis, as the UK is well known globally for its manufacture and consumption of sweeties. What? No more Smarties, no more chocolate, mint imperials, fruit gums or toffees! How would I survive without my daily sugar hit? After that, the next step will be to ban everything that brings pleasure. We might as well revert to being strict puritans and ban music, dance, fun and the Arts. The import of laughter and foreign jokes would be strictly controlled.
In revenge, I have my own list of products I’d like to see restricted. Personally, I’d like to ban aubergines because they’re all purple and slimy and are my least favourite vegetable. This means that moussaka is a banned substance in our house. Other proscribed goods at home include ratatouille (the tomato stew, not the film) and chickpeas which I loathe—particularly when they’re mushed up and made into hummus or sesame seed tahina. And a bottle of Retsina is better used as floor disinfectant rather than masquerading as wine. So there! That’s my personal list with which you may or may not agree. You can add your own catalogue of suggestions for a domestic embargo. Can you also please add the banning of mobile phones from the dinner table and any mention of Donald Trump before breakfast.
And why stop at a national level? There are a few things made in the Southwest that I believe are better kept within county limits and not let loose on the whole world. I may love local delicacies like Devon clotted cream, Somerset scrumpy and Plymouth gin but I’m afraid to admit (being local and all) that I really don’t like Damask Cream. I know it’s a Bath and Somerset speciality and is filled with exotic stuff like cinnamon, mace and rosewater, but the recent version I tried was so sweet it caused my teeth to squeak and my lips to bleed. In similar regional vein, the worst meal I’ve ever had in my life was Devonshire Mullet Pie served to me by a bored waitress with halitosis in an Exeter pub about 20 years ago. A dish so full of bones that it was like eating mild barbed wire, the awful memory has lingered with me for the remainder of my natural life. Both of these regional items should be removed from menus and proscribed as ‘dangerous substances’. I should also give a brief mention to another local dish that is fortunately no longer available: Portland Snalters—a griddled collection of freshly shot wheatears (see picture) that became King George III’s favourite meal whenever he visited Weymouth. But by then, George had already lost the plot and lost the American colonies. Being declared completely mad was OK if you were royalty in the 18th century. It also meant that—being the King—he couldn’t be banned.