Gill Smith
Gill Smith - Comedy Writer & Performer

Gill's Journal, Issue

Quarterly magazine of The ARM Club the Leading Independant
RISC OS Computer User Club.
Fresh tomatoes, tomato ketchup, tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, tomato soup. What do all these have in common? If you're as lightening fast as I'd hope from Club members, you'll have spotted that there's that word 'tomato' cropping up in all of them. I'm glad you spotted the similarity there. And based on that, you'd expect some similarity of contents... at least that a red, round fruit was somehow involved? Or is it just me?
What's round, red and fruity, and can't be eaten by spods? Gill Smith investigates.
So why, I have to ask, is it that most of the spods I meet will eat any of the above, bar the first, the fresh, the real version of tomatoes? Why do they need to be crushed, peeled, canned, creamed or packed with additives before your average spod will eat them? There's clearly something in the destructive process of repackaging the tomato that removes all its goodness, and makes it suddenly palatable.

I've been trying to work out exactly what anyone could dislike about the innocuous tomato. Responses ranged from the articulate "It tastes nasty," to the spoddier "There's a danger that it might be good for me," with a quick tour via "Can't remember, but I've never liked them, even since I was a child."

It warms your heart to know that these are the well-rounded individuals you chose to steer The ARM Club through the murky waters of Acorn based catastrophes and attacks of Windows mania.

Eventually I concluded that the 'being good for you' bit must be the real problem. Tomatoes are packed with vitamins, nutrients, minerals and other stuff that's really good for you. It's that, combined with the fact that in your fresh tomato, the pips are green. As I have been told many times by the various spods, green food is for girlies.

Such delights as broccoli, asparagus and mint ice cream are clearly a female preoccupation. Real spods don't eat green food. I presume this includes the new green ketchup that should be hitting the shops soon.

Lettuce, all million new varieties of it, and other such vegetables that frequently find their way onto the side of a plate beside a good steak, or a nice fatty pie should be ignored. They can be pushed around a little, or cut up, in a pretence of eating something, but only if the waitress happens to be nice. Due to the green hue of the pips in fresh tomatoes, they cannot be eaten, while the preservatives that allow your puree or tinned tomatoes to retain that brilliance of red also carefully hide the greenness of the pips.

It seems to come to this: eating healthy food might make you lose that pale, wan glow that allows fellow spods to recognise you as one of them, from a hundred yards across a crowed room. You can picture the scene... their eyes met across a crowed racecourse venue... there was something about the florescent I-sit-in-front-of-a-monitor-for-at least-12-hours-a-day shade of her skin that instantly drew him... moving swiftly through the sea of geeks he was suddenly by her side "Do you spod here often?"

Now we've got to the bottom of why these poor misguided individuals dislike healthy food, it still seems that a specific dislike of tomatoes is inextricably linked with the affinity for technology. There's something more sinister going on than a mere anti-tomato prejudice. This needs more research.

My little brother used to hate tomatoes, but my mother wasn't having any of it. Now aged 15, has my unwitting mother ruined the poor boy's technical career by insisting on feeding him his tomatoes fresh? Or did his dislike of tomatoes just wear off when he realised that four older siblings were just too many to fight off the computer, and ended up giving up his technical leanings? Which came first, the tomato or the spod?

Intrigued as I am, I feel it would be a little unfair to start experiment on my cousin's small children. After all, one of the little dears isn't due until September. Mind you, if I force feed my cousin a diet of fresh tomatoes for the next couple of months in order to get the little darling a very early start, will he turn out to love them, or to hate them and be the next Bill Gates? In terms of making his fortune that is, not in terms of being considered the devil incarnate. Well, maybe both.

As a control, of course, I really ought to ban his brother, current exactly a year and a day old, from any form of fresh tomato. To make it really fair, he should have tomato ketchup on everything in sight, and only eat fresh tomato when it's well and truly curried. (I hope I haven't ruined any spod's abilities to enjoy a vindaloo there - sorry to have to break it to you, but they do put fresh tomato into some curry dishes.) Again, the interesting question is whether depriving him will mean that he becomes the next Steve Jobs or will it leads to a passionate desire for fresh tomato, and lead him to become an actor, or an Olympic athlete.

At this point, I should exonerate my husband, Toby. He complains that everyone assumes every sad 'spoddy' thing in my columns is his behaviour. I ask you, why on earth would I stick to making fun of one spod, when we have them queuing up for ridicule? No, I'm the generous sort, I'll mock anyone.

Anyway, back to the case in hand. Toby not only eats fresh tomatoes when offered them, he'll even choose types of tomato in the supermarket! And no, that's not the same as choosing brands of ketchup. Yet, in spite of this fearlessness when it comes to that round, red fruit, Toby can out-techie some of The ARM Club committee, and is employed as a software consultant by a supposedly up-and-coming internet site. He's even the man in charge of making sure their site runs properly on your Acorn.

So we've established Toby is still a spod, and sent him off into the jungle of cables that is up-and-coming company's server room to do some serious research. The first interesting specimen that he came across was the Operations Manager. For the less techie among you, that means the bloke that keeps the really big computers up and running, and he has nothing to do with your position on the NHS waiting list.

The Operations Manager also likes tomatoes. This is strange. Any man who, like Toby delights in the arrival of a new big Sun machine the way new parents coo over a baby cannot deny being pretty technically minded. So, other than a love for computers that are too big to fit in the lift, what do these two have in common? Wives. Mrs Operations Manager is a lovely lady, in a non-techie profession, who puts up with the Operations pager going off at odd hours of the day and night simply because some idiot did something strange to a computer.

Perhaps that is the key. All the previous advice I've offered about finding women may be utterly useless. Maybe all a spod needs to do to make him- (or her-) self more attractive to the opposite sex is to eat fresh tomato. I know it's a tough challenge, but maybe, just maybe, it could be you getting your dream ticket to the girl of your fantasies. OK, maybe not the girl of your fantasies, especially not yours Druck, that'd be illegal, but something coming faintly close anyway. You never know, you may find it's so long since you tried a tomato that they aren't that bad after all... Or at least the benefits may outweigh the trauma. Perhaps the clue was there all along, as tomatoes are also called 'love apples'!

Written by Gill Smith. Published Autumn 2000. Reproduced with permission.