I have eaten pies in Fleet Street. From several different establishments, some of which might still be there. Never been too fussed about what might be in them, steak and kidney always seems a safe bet even with a Ginsters.
It is British Pie Week this coming week (March 7th-13th) which put me in mind of famed frontiersman Desperate Dan. The comic cowboy is never happier than when he is chowing down on one of Aunt Aggie’s famous Cow Pies, horns and all. Each steaming hot pie fills the table, ready for an ecstatic Dan to consume.
Most of the time Dan lives in Cactusville, a Wild West town flanked by desert and bush - but served by a double-decker bus to Dundee. It has a very British mayor and a sheriff who has a cadre of Bobbies-on-the-Beat.
Dan has been lurking round the prairie since the first issue of The Dandy in 1937 but abandoned the printed page for an erratic internet afterlife in 2012.
Apart from Cactusville, Dan has another home, one he can use when he stops off in London. Which is where the special ingredients of Cow Pie become a little suspicious. I mean it is thoroughly wholesome cow, isn’t it? Consider though, Dan’s crash pad at the London office of the Dundee Courier is also known for other, more macabre reasons.
Back in the 18th Century, a verger at the church next door (which sports carved figures of legendary cannibals Gog and Magog on the clock outside) became disturbed by a foul rotting stench wafting up from the crypt below. Imagine his shock when he discovered the mutilated remains of assorted people had been dumped there.
The local constabulary “steaked” out the crypt and were able to apprehend a ne’er-do-well dumping the body of another unfortunate individual. This saga has experienced a little embroidery in the intervening centuries, but these days we know this killer as Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Dan’s gaffe is the former home of a killer who is said to have cut up his victims and added them to the filling in Mrs Lovett’s Pie Shop! So I have to ask, what is really in that pie Dan? Has Aunt Aggie been comparing notes with Mrs L? Is this why Danny and Katy vanished from the Desperate Dan strip? Have you seen Little Bear lately? Does it mean Jack Horner was actually pulling Little Plum out of the pie? I think we should be told!
And have you noticed the curry house that has opened on the site of Dr Jekyll’s dissection lab ...?