ALMOST THERE | ISSUE FOUR
The man who ate aeroplanes
Monsieur Mangetout also ate 18 bicycles, 15 shopping trolleys, 7 television sets, a pair of skis and a coffin. Why?
Okay, let’s get things straight right from the word go: Monsieur Mangetout only ever ate one aeroplane, a Cessna 150. He would’ve eaten more, but apparently aircraft give you terrible wind...
Now that’s out of the way we can get down to business. The basic details of Mangetout’s life are straightforward enough. Born Michel Lotito in Grenoble in 1950, he started nibbling lightbulbs at a very early age. Then one day he noticed that other people were fascinated by his dietary habits and so he started ‘performing’ them in public. From then on he never looked back. He knew he’d found a winning formula and stuck rigidly to it throughout his career- he’d cut the television, computer or whatever took his fancy into small chunks, munch it, swallow it, and then wash it all down with lashings of mineral oil. And ever the true professional, he never allowed real food to get in the way. Monsieur Mangetout died in 2007, officially from ‘natural causes,’ unofficially from metal fatigue. That much is plain and simple. But one massive question remains unanswered: Why did he do it?
Now the received wisdom is that Monsieur Mangetout was an old-school entertainer and that his particular ‘gift’ brought him fame and fortune. I’m not convinced. Yes, I know the record shows he was paid to travel the world and make bicycles and shopping trolleys slowly disappear, but surely there have to be easier ways to make a living? And as for the fame angle, I wasn’t too convinced by that, either. True, he had a regular spot in the Guinness Book of Records, but where was the satisfaction in that when he was the only player in the old aeroplane-eating game? His sole potential rival, Monsieur Mangequiteabit never really got going and would have to content himself with being a figment of my imagination.
No. There had to be something more. Something that could drive a man to consume a shed load of unpleasant and really quite toxic material. (And then the shed). To ingest the indigestible. To boldly go where no alimentary canal had gone before… Then it hit me. The answer was so simple, so rational, so blindingly obvious. And it had been staring me in the face all along. He was hungry.
The Cessna 150
You see a light aircraft. Monsieur Mangetout sees a light snack.