Mr Fowler reported on a new initiative offering mindfulness training to all onion farmers. Mr Halsey asked what the bloody hell mindfulness training was when it was at home. Mr Fowler said that it involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. Ms Williams said she preferred a gin and tonic and a nice game of bingo. Mr Fowler presented a raft of statistical displays showing that mindful farmers had a higher than average crop yield. Mr Smyth said that he was all in favour of the initiative and had been attending a mindfulness workshop at the leisure centre on Tuesday evenings whilst his wife, Mrs Smyth, was at aqua aerobics. Mr Goldsmith asked if Mrs Smyth was at aqua aerobics last Tuesday. Mr Smyth said that she was. Mr Goldsmith said that was odd as the pool was currently closed for refurbishment. Mr Smyth said that Mr Goldsmith could do with some mindfulness training himself, as he had plenty to be mindful of. Mr Goldsmith asked Mr Smyth what he meant by that. Mr Smyth said that he could be mindful of the fact that there was no such thing as the Afweergranaat Symposium in Utrecht and therefore he could also mindful of the fact that that he could not claim expenses for visiting it, under the name Mr and Mrs Denis Bergkamp. Mr Smyth said that while he was on the topic, Mr Slease could be mindful that it was not normal to eat a whole brie every day for lunch, and Mr McCabe could be mindful that it was not appropriate to wait near the lift in a cape and surprise visitors with a giant chorizo, even if was Comic Relief. Mr Berridge intervened to calm proceedings and reminded Mr Smyth that at the core of mindfulness was non-judgementalism and that Mr Slease was free to enjoy cheese however he chose, and that Mr McCabe had done much for British onions whatever his foibles. Mr Fowler asked why everyone couldn’t all just get along and, producing his lute, treated the board to a rendition of Melting Pot by Blue Mink. Mr Slease asked what a melting pot was. Mr Fowler said it was best described as a sort of fondue.
Mr Smyth reported to the board an incident in which anthologist Mr Pace had been assaulted by a hail of onions. Mr Pace had been walking home after a yoga session and was humming a German faith song to himself, ‘es für die Gnade der Zwiebel’. As he passed beneath the ten story Kensington Hotel he felt the impact of something hard on the back of his head. He knew instantly it was an onion as his wife had used a similar technique over a number of years when he was suffering from writer’s block and his love for the onion had literally gone off the boil. He had become known to the Board as Cheese Head as he was very rarely to be seen unaccompanied without segments of onion. Having felt the pelting keenly, he turned expecting to find his wife and only looked upwards when he heard the word ‘Nazi’. Mr Smyth reported to the board that Mr Pace had looked up to find three of the four judges from X Factor looking down and laughing. Louis Walsh was said to have unbuckled his trousers asking the troubled writer if he had ever been scared of the rain, while Sharon Osborne had asked if the Professor of Vegetation “knew anything about this”, and revealed a mole hairier than the inside of an artichoke. Mr Pace was said to be deeply affected by the experience and had tried to absolve this through writing an extended homage to the onion, though as the words weren’t forthcoming he’d suffered a torrent of hurled onions from his wife which had further compounded the trauma. Mr Smyth suggested that the board should organise a collection and send Mr Pace a variety box of McVities biscuits. A show of hands ensued and the motion was passed, though the Board could not agree a consensus on who should go to the all-night garage.
Mr Edwards updated the group on EuroOnions, an onion specific version of the Eurovision Song Contest. Mr Smyth informed the group that the preliminary phase, a Song for Onions, had been completed and that the entry selected was very strong: a version of 1980s disco classic You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) entitled You Spin Me Round (Like an Onion) performed by a supergroup comprising Jamie Oliver, H from Steps and one of Boyzone who isn’t Ronan Keating or the one who is dead. The biggest threat, said Mr Edwards, came from the Germans, with a version of Kraftwerk’s The Model, entitled Die Zwiebel, and the French, whose version of Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime (mois non plus) entitled Je t’aime (les onignons) had a certain Gallic charm. Mr O’Loughlin pointed out that Boyzone were Irish. Mr Edwards said he wasn’t going to get bogged down in semantics. Mr Fowler stated that the whole conceptual framework of the song was flawed. How exactly did an onion spin round? That surely depended upon the variety, and upon atmospheric conditions. Mr Fowler stated that simply substituting one word for another was not songwriting and said that he would now give a demonstration. Mr Fowler then produced an ocarina and treated the board to a rendition of his own composition dealing with economic migration in search of vegetables, entitled An Onion from America. Mr Smyth pointed out the similarities with The Proclaimers’ 1987 hit A Letter from America. Mr Fowler stated that he couldn’t work with amateurs and left the room, returning later to pick up his ocarina. Mr Slease said he hadn’t realised Mr Fowler was Scottish.
Mr Smyth was pleased to announce that he had last been able to launch the first issue of the Board’s literary journal: Onion. The magazine had been held up due to a shortage of publishable submissions from outside of the Board’s immediate community. Notable celebrities had been approached, including Roy Chubby Brown and Sting, but nothing had arrived. An out-of-office message had been received from Bob Holness saying that he was away skuba-diving off the coast of Ecuador. Mr Goodland said this couldn’t be the case as Ecuador was landlocked. Ms Allen suggested that perhaps Ecuador was an anagram in this case and that whoever solved it would get to attempt the Hotspot as they did in Blockbusters. Mr Underwood reminded Ms Allen that perhaps that wasn’t appropriate as Mr Holness had died in 2012. Mr Fowler, who hadn’t heard this news, became agitated and asked for his favourite mascot. Mr Ormonde suggested that the meeting should progress. Mr Smyth had checked the company’s Dropbox, he said, but all that was in there were Mr Fowler’s artistic impressions of Mr Hilson when he was drunk, imitating a monkey in a bowler hat. They had been archived after Mr Hilson’s birthday and been digitally archived as TIFF files. Ms Pears suggested that the Board’s Twitter and Facebook accounts could be used to solicit submissions, perhaps even the Onion Library might add something to their online news’ page? Mr Slease questioned why the onion, which was itself such a perfectly formed work of art, needed the conceptual framework of literature to add to its perfection? Mr Jenks reminded Mr Slease that there were those out there still intent on parboiling onions to the recipes laid down by Hugh Fearnley-whittingstall and that it was the Board’s duty to generate any kind of support – literary or otherwise – for the onion’s inherently poetic constituency. The meeting ended when Mr MacDonald then asked if anyone would like a ginger nut and if so, could they nip down to the garage as there was a 3-for-2 on all McVities’ biscuits?
Mr Smyth shared with the board a diagram he had produced to show the danger of foreign imports. Mr Taylor said that this was a very poor effort and Mr Smyth had clearly just taken a Google image from the title sequence of beloved British sitcom Dad’s Army and crudely imposed some onions on it, using software he had got free off the internet. Mr Fowler said that the diagram didn’t even make any sense, as it implied that there were no onions in Britain, and if that were the case the entire raison d’être of the board would be a non sequitur. Mr Slease requested that Mr Fowler speak English. Mr Smyth said that if he’d wanted deconstruction, he’d have asked Jacques bloody Derrida. Mr Slease asked what Liverpool’s centre forward had to do with anything. Mr Fowler pointed out that Jacques Derrida died on October 9th 2004. Mr Smyth said that the trouble with reading Mr Derrida is that there is too much perspiration for too little inspiration. Mr Fowler said that he bet Mr Smyth had got that off the internet as well and that he could see that his phone was on in his jacket pocket. Mr Goldsmith said that if it didn’t exist on the internet it didn’t exist, and that the world wide web was a vast, collective memory in which everything was archived. Mr Smyth said that he had some software that could delete your internet history permanently and without a trace. They couldn’t touch you for it.
To celebrate the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth it was suggested by Mr Fowler that he offer an evaluation of how Britten created new works from already available onions. He had recently ran a series of talks on this subject called Onion Bites, which had gone down well at a famous arts’ venue. Unlike many composers, Mr Fowler said, Britten was drawn to the endlessly variable range of onions in existence by which to build up his pieces into musical composition. ‘Onion in Op C’ is perhaps his most well known of these pieces, in which the composer added the libretti: “Crystelate my layers when I am fried”. The evening of the opening performance at the Wigmore Hall was made famous through ex-lover, and collaborator, WH Auden turning up, drinking from a bottle of Thunderbirds and asking for his lederhosen back. Mr Britten, who was positioned in the Royal Box, hurled pickled onions down on the poet, until he was removed from the venue and the performance continued. Mr Fowler was keen to reignite this air of timeless enmity and passion to the Board, and asked if any of the members had read the love poems of John Donne recently? Mr Fowler also said that he’d just bought a new camera from Jessops and assembled the Board into two rows – tallest at the back – asking them to smile and say ‘Onions’.
In reference to the Pam Ayres Twitter incident, the board discussed an official British Onion Marketing Board online presence. A website could present amusing vintage advertisements and also board minutes, to give the public a fascinating glimpse into the onion elite. Leading celebrities could be approached to manage the site. Mr Fowler said that he had contacts that could put out feelers to The Two Ronnies. Mr Smyth pointed out that Ronnie Barker died on 3rd October 2005. Mr Fowler said that he was a persuasive man. Mr Herd suggested a Facebook page with entry into a prize draw for clicking like. Mr Fowler said that he had contacts who could arrange a Nordic walking session with Emlyn Hughes. Mr Smyth pointed out that Emlyn Hughes died on 9th November 2004. Mr Fowler said that Mr Smyth fundamentally lacked imagination. Mr Smyth said that his wife used a site called Adult Friend Finder. Mr Taylor asked Mr Smyth if he knew what Adult Friend Finder was. Mr Smyth said it was a site where adults could find friends. Mrs Smyth had formed a firm bond with a lady called Magda in Cleethorpes, who ran her own cattery and that she was visiting her this weekend. Mr Goldsmith said that he thought Mrs Smyth was allergic to cats. Mr Smyth said that she had found a miracle cure in a poultice made from char-broiled pearl onions and Deep Heat. Mr Goldsmith said it was a wonder what onions could do. Mr Smyth agreed and said that if they ever lost sight of that he might as well end it all. Mr Goldsmith requested that this be minuted.