Which side of me will win?

Boscombe bus man eats raw sausage – did it really happen?

Knowing there would be disbelievers, witnesses to yesterday’s raw sausage eating incident say they used convincing means to confirm the rawness and sausageness of the raw sausage before and after the bus journey on which it was eaten. But the mystique surrounding the raw sausage eater continues to raise questions.

Was it really a raw sausage? How do we know? Where are the pictures?

Already those questions are spreading in Boscombe and surely beyond. In the absence of photos and with the entire sausage given up to the man’s voracious and clearly impatient appetite, many people don’t want to believe that the raw sausage – a revolting and potentially harmful snack to some – was really eaten.

Mime artist’s impression

Yellow Buses officials are balancing that scepticism with the sensitivities that might be inflamed by showing CCTV images they say they have of the uncooked tube-shaped parcel of ground meat and video of its consumption on the 1a service as it passed through Boscombe. Still, it appeared likely that photographic evidence would be produced.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that Sausage Man ate a raw sausage,” Johnny Yellow-Hat, Yellow Buses’ sanitary food transportation adviser, said this morning. He said Yellow Buses will, “share what we can because we want to make sure that not only our customers but the world understands exactly what happened.”

In July 2003, Yellow Buses took heat but also quieted most conspiracy theorists by releasing graphic photos of a young woman defecating into the bin of a double decker 5b service on its way out of Kinson, in order to prove that it had indeed been clearly labelled ‘Used Tickets Only’.

So far, Yellow Buses has cited evidence that has satisfied most of the world that they had the right Sausage Man in Boscombe, Bournemouth.

The bus-borne passengers who rode the 1a from Bournemouth Square to Somerford identified the raw sausage by appearance. A man on the bus identified as Dan Howdle was said to have called out, “No, surely not…” immediately prior to the commencement of the snack.

Officials established a quick DNA match from the eleven remaining sausages in the packet that they said established the sausage’s identity and rawness, even in the absence of other identification techniques, with 99.9 percent certainty. Yellow Buses officials also said the raw sausage was identified through photo comparisons and other methods.

Tellingly a Bournemouth East Locality Community Mental Health Team spokesman, in half-heartedly pledging to provide support to Sausage Man, called him an “uncooked offal munching nutter”, offering no challenge to bus passengers’ account of his early teatime treat.

Even so, it’s almost inevitable that the Sausage Man mythology will not end with the raw sausage in his belly. If it suits extremist ends to spin a fantastical tale of tofu, soy protein or some other trickery to gullible ears, expect to hear it.

In the immediate aftermath, people in Boscombe expressed widespread disbelief that Sausage Man had scoffed – or even casually nibbled – a raw sausage among them.

“I’m not ready to buy that the sausage was raw,” said Carlos Reis, 22, who works in several fast food restaurants. “How come the driver didn’t stop him getting on the bus with food and how did he eat something so rank so quickly? This is all fake – a comedic farce, and a crude one.”

Cameron Cant, 25, who is very unemployed indeed, said the official story “looks fishy to me.”

The eating of the sausage from a packet of twelve bought from some cheap, pikey shop somewhere in west side Boscombe was videotaped aboard the bus, according to a senior Yellow Buses security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because a decision on whether or not to release the video was not final. The official said it was highly unlikely the video, along with photographs of the sausage in the man’s hand with a bite taken out of the end, would be made public in the coming days.

The swiftness of the sausage scoffing may have raised nausea levels in witnesses to the incident, but was in accordance with characteristically bizarre Boscombe traditions. Dietary health scholars, however, challenged jobless, street-wandering mentalist’s assertions that getting gobbled up straight from the packet on a bus was an appropriate fate for a sausage that had not been whacked under a medium grill and turned frequently for 10-15 minutes.

The act denied Sausage Man’s digestive system any sort of defence against Salmonella, Shigella or E. Coli bacteria. Once again, a sausage had vanished, but this time at the hands of Sausage Man and in a way that ensures he has diarrhoea forever.

If that satisfies Sausage Man and his sense of taste, Bob Beadle, a dietician at Bournemouth University who studies cookery, said the rapid mastication of the raw sausage “would certainly be a rich sort of kernel for somebody to grasp onto if they were motivated to throw up.”

Also expect to come out the bins behind a shabby block of bedsits in Pokesdown is a half-eaten, discarded sausage sandwich made by Sausage Man later that evening, that may provide fodder for those who insist he always cooks his meat products.

Boscombe, for one, is a land of poor dumb idots, and far-fetched reasons for scrounging 20p abound on the streets and at bus stops throughout the Boscomite world. But that’s not just a characteristic of the Bosc Vegas pipeline. Many ordinary Bournemouth residents – and one from Christchurch – have persistently questioned drivers on the 1a, 1b and 1c routes as to whether their bus goes to the train station, despite the fact that they’ve been the only three routes in Bournemouth that don’t since time immemorial.

Beadle said most people will probably be convinced Sausage Man ate a raw sausage on a bus because they cannot imagine Yellow Buses maintaining such an extraordinary lie to the contrary in this day and age.

Yet, he said, “as with the 1a, 1b and 1c going to the train station conspiracy, there’s going to be a set of people who are never going to be convinced. People filter the information they receive through their current attitudes, their current perspectives.”

To be sure, even photos and video, subject to digital manipulation, may not provide the final word to everyone. But Jon Etherington, a RAND Corp. Public transportation analyst who once advised the region service performance director of First UK Bus in the Midlands and South East England, said Yellow Buses should do all it can to minimise doubts.

“There are always conspiracy theories,” he said. “There are even individuals who believe that consuming processed pork products without cooking them first won’t make you shit your guts out everywhere within about two hours.”


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