(November 1999) I wrote playfully of 19th-century father-and-son
scientists William and Francis Buckland. William was a pioneer of
scientific geology, while Francis was an authority on fish.
little point regurgitating any more of my article here,
save to remind you that I clearly made a point of
highlighting that the investigative pair dedicated
themselves to eating anything, no matter how bizarre.
you, I know, judged it quite hilarious and an appropriate contribution in
the Bikwilian quirky spirit. But here’s the rub.
the Internet, an author’s errors of fact or judgement can be all too
readily exposed. I have already learnt this to my mortification from
comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor. (See Issues
26, May 1998 and
lesson concerned erroneous facts. This time it’s a question of emphasis.
no escape, so I’d better jump right in and face the music. I’ll quote
directly from the email that brought me to gustatory book. It was sent by
a bona fide descendant of those resourceful Bucklands.
. . . it
makes a great story, but the list of strange [disgusting?] animals etc.
eaten really had a serious purpose: this wasn't the normal food of the
household, but a serious attempt to find other forms of animal life which
could be cheaply produced to feed the world's hungry.
[surely] in the interests of scientific research would anyone eat a
mole, bluebottles or — to complete the list — a particular carnivore which
London zoo obligingly dug up 3 days or so after its death, when asked for