The Scottish Professor is devoted to two magazines – one is FMR which is an unspeakably chichi art mag aimed at rich ladies (if you think of the Burlington Magazine you have sort of hit the general area but since FMR is in Italian it is much, much more so, and molto elegante). The other is The Kitchen Garden. This is a sample of its coverage: ‘Calabrese: grow this easy, delicious crop, with tips from Andrew Tokeley’ …’Barbara Segall’s guide to flowers for cutting. This month, gladioli’ …’Allotments: stony soils make for awkward work, but aren’t all bad news, says Edwin Oxlade.’ Personally, I do not believe in Edwin Oxlade, I think he has escaped from a minor work by Evelyn Waugh, but in any case, there is an article in this month’s offering about chickens, which I read in the bath in a state of complete incredulity. The Kitchen Garden is generally pretty soothing reading, but this is outrageous. Listen. Anyone who keeps hens – that is to say, not merely battery farmers who keep them in lots of 5,000, but anyone who has Henny-Penny scratching about the garden as the children’s pet – must now comply with a new EU extension of the Animal By-Products Regulations, which lays down the following: the only legal method of disposing of a dead hen, even a day-old chick, is via your local knackerman, and in an incinerator which can reach 850C in two seconds. The reasons given are the following: ‘the potential for polluting local water courses, and the lack of scientific information available of how persistent the prions that cause diseases such as BSE and scrapie last in the soil.’ It seems to me there are two problems with this. One: when is a chicken not a chicken? Do you have to incinerate dud eggs at 850C? The other, and far more serious, is this. The regulations cover chickens which fall off their perches. But what about chickens slaughtered, plucked, taken home, and cooked? They are just as liable to pullulate with prions as any chook that dies of natural causes, so what on earth is the difference? Approaches to the cooking of poultry vary but I can think of no cuisine in which subjecting them to temperatures of 850C is going to result in much of a taste sensation. My granny was an enthusiastic amateur cremator, but even the dryest, most fibrous Sunday roast I ever chewed through is unlikely to have been subjected to more than an hour at 250. I, at least, quite often end up putting raw chicken in the bin – bones and bits, and as I am writing this, a collection of bones from chicken grilled at ca. 200C are reposing in the rubbish, where they will eventually be transferred to a landfill site. So in short, what nonsense is this? If this is a genuine problem, then all domestic waste involving meat – that includes waste generated by you urban types from Tesco’s Finest Free-Range Chickens – ought to be incinerated at 850C, and if it’s not, then they ought to bloody well stop making people’s lives more difficult.