His Excellency Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, has been summoned to appear before an Environment Agency Committee to answer a charge of ‘insensitivity’ over introducing yet another Year of the Horse so soon after last year’s horsemeat scandal.
“We only just put the whole sorry business of horse behind us,” said Owen Patterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. “Now the Chinese seem intent on stirring up all the bad memories again.”
Mr Xiaoming is expected to answer some difficult questions, such as why can’t the Chinese start their year on 1 January like everybody else, what is the Capital of Moldova and what exactly goes into a Pot Noodle.
“I do of course know all about the horsemeat scandal,” said the Ambassador, “it was in all the papers and most of the ready-meals. I understand you Brits have a thing about horses because your Royals love them. Nobody likes the thought of Queen Elizabeth eating an Ascot winner, even accidentally. But, really, no harm was done by a bit of horse in your diet for a few months. If anything, I thought people were looking brighter-eyed.”
Patterson points out however that it’s less to do with the physical effects of eating horse. “We’re talking about lasting psychological damage caused by endless equine-based puns in the food industry. Let’s not forget that people were mentally scarred for life when they heard that Tesco’s Spaghetti Bollog neighs.”
“The thing is,” said Patterson, “I’ve got enough on my plate already with most of Somerset blaming me for the wet weather. Why can’t China keep up? We did Horse last year, move on. It’s 2014, Year of the Flood.”
In the village of Harold, Eddie the landlord says he is ignoring all the international diplomatic nonsense and is putting on a New Year party tonight in The Squirrel Lickers’ Arms. “Everyone is welcome to join us in celebrating the arrival of the Horse,” Eddie told the Evening Harold, “but anyone who asks what sort of meat is in the sweet-and-sour pork balls will be asked to leave.”