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Thursday: May 26, 2005

Eating One’s Own Dogfood, I

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:05 PM GMT-0500

I don’t recall now where I read this interesting locution, which describes (e.g.) computer programmers who feel morally obligated to use the software they have had a part in coding, even if much better software is available. I wonder whether it has any basis in real life. Though fictional, Kingsley Amis’ account suggests that it does.

Here are some bits from chapter 28 of Ending Up (1974), in which minor character Keith visits his mother in an old-folks’ home. He has just explained that he is working on an advertising campaign for the manufacturer of Bow-Wow dogfood, Mew catfood, and Chirrup “for budgies”. Mr. Pastry is a dog.

‘And you’re making up all this man’s advertisements for him, Keith,’ said Marigold.

‘No, I’m only to do with Bow-Wow. I’m in charge of —’

‘Is it good?’ asked Adela. ‘I was thinking Mr Pastry might like it.’

‘Mr . . . ? Oh —’ Keith managed to suppress the blasphemy that sprang to his lips as he remembered who Mr Pastry was. ‘Er, yes, he probably would. I’ve had many a worse portion of tinned meat than Bow-Wow. They sell a —’

‘You mean you’ve tasted it?’ asked Marigold.

‘Yes, they have what they call quality testing sessions where it’s made, and you’re expected to join in if you happen to be there. The thing to do is keep to the Bow-Wow side of the room. Mew’s worth steering clear of unless you’re a cat. Chirrup’s not bad if you don’t mind a mouthful of seeds and gravel. Yes, they take a lot of —’

‘You’ve eaten a dog food?’ Marigold was exchanging glances of unabated shock, horror, outrage and so forth with Adela.

‘Yes,’ muttered Keith, muttered that he might not bawl at the top of his voice. ‘It’s got to be fit for human consumption, you see, which is why —’

This is as good a place as any to stop. It’s been many years since I read the book, but this is one of the passages that made me laugh out loud.

1 Comment

  1. Oh hell, leaving a comment to a May entry…lost my copy of “Ending Up” to a good but annoying friend, but even my mangled memory of another fragment of dialogue still makes me splutter. Don’t know, of course, if you came across it looking for your bit – but it’s at dinner, the old folks and adult offspring…one character has a moment of classic Amis cringe trying to interject a comment about a girl he knew from New Zealand – it’s a masterpiece of dialogue, as usual.
    Thanks for the happy nudge…

    Comment by Jody Tresidder — Thursday: October 20, 2005 @ 1:49 PM GMT-0500

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