11 January 2014

TMB Chairman's Open Letter To The Mayor Of London

Dear Mayor Johnson

On January 6th you wrote in the Daily Telegraph that a piece by Tristram Hunt MP in the Observer deserved ‘a Nobel Prize for Tripe’.

As far as I am aware, there is no such prize and I must therefore assume this was intended as an insult.

The Tripe Marketing Board is strictly non-party political and we have no wish to take sides in your disagreement with Mr Hunt about who started World War 1. (My own view is that you should settle the matter in a gentlemanly way, perhaps in a chess-boxing match, a sport which, I am pleased to say, is becoming increasingly popular in this country. I took part in a chess-boxing match several years ago and emerged victorious after knocking out my opponent as he was about to checkmate me).

We take a very dim view,
however, of the defamatory use of the word tripe to mean something of inferior quality and have been campaigning for the dictionary definition of the word tripe to be changed, sadly without success so far.

I therefore invited you to do the decent thing - apologise immediately and take the Tripe Taste Challenge as a sign of your contrition. So far, I have not received a reply and must assume you are agonising over whether or not to accept my invitation.

First of all, let me reassure you that there is no risk to your health. The last fatality caused by tripe consumption in the UK occurred in 1946.

You will not be the first politician to take the Tripe Taste Challenge. Last year, Mr Andrew Percy MP committed a similar faux pas and very sportingly took the Tripe Taste Challenge at a supermarket in Goole. He is alive and well today, to the best of my knowledge.

Tripe is an unfairly denigrated food and has a long and noble place in history. As a classics scholar, you are no doubt aware that the Greek rhetorician and grammarian Athenaeus sang its praises. In Homer's Iliad, Agamemnon's cooks mollify the surly Achilles with a bowl of tripe.

You probably think few Londoners eat tripe, that it is only fit for over 85s, dogs and northerners and that your comments will therefore have no impact on your chances of re-election at the 2016 mayoral elections. Nothing could be further from the truth.

According to my research, there are over one million pensioners and four million northerners living in London, many of whom will have been offended by your choice of words, not to mention the many French, Spanish and Italian residents of London who consider tripe a delicacy.

Tripe is a favourite food of many top chefs and is served in some of the finest London restaurants. In short, sir, you have offended not only elderly working class Londoners and exiled northerners but many EU citizens, young professionals and gastronomes.

May I respectfully suggest that if tripe was good enough for Achilles, it is good enough for the Mayor of London.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Sir Norman Wrassle
Tripe Marketing Board

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