8 February 2007

I love ALL animals..... yum!



It's not entirely true to say I've never had pets before.

I had a yellow canary when I was five. When it died, my mother dumped its fragile little body - still warm - into the incinerator... along with my only childhood outlet for love. It's dead... deal with it. That day a great opportunity for experimentation went up in smoke. Science would have to wait.

About four years after the nameless bird, we opted for a drop in the food chain - fish. I named them all You. These fish had it made – enormous fish tank for them to run and play, plenty of food and lots of rocks to swim around to preoccupy their 3-second memories. And I made sure that each and every one of them got lots of fresh air by pulling them out of the water every day for a breather. They would gasp desperately, trying to get as much air as possible in the time that I would afford them. Occasionally I would put the ill-fated fish in my mouth, giving them a change of scenery and an idea what their afterlife will look like. But these fish simply did not have a will to live, and all died in a matter of weeks. Ingrates.

When I was older and wiser and newly a teenager, my parents gave me another chance at a canary. Max was an active little song-bird – every morning I would wake up to hear him singing as he continuously rocked back-and-forth on his little swing. But I kept on feeding him until he got so fat he simply slept in his food dish. Then his feathers starting falling out. So by the time he finally entered the not-so-pearly gates of the incinerator, he had a wispy little mohawk. Of course we styled it into a nice little comb-over for his funeral procession, before tossing his chubby, little, bald body into the figurative animal hell. We’re not insensitive.

And then there was Freda - originally named Fred until we were otherwise informed. She came to us - flying into a purpose-shined window of our house. I think she escaped from the house next door - the neighbours were foreigners who incessantly basked in the pungent odour of cooked animal meat. And they had a lemon tree from which they frequently picked fruit to season their latest dish. It’s ironic that Freda came to us for safety. She must have flown by the incinerator to get where she crashed. Did she not see we have two lemons trees? It was a tsk tsk and a yum yum moment all at once.
There were a few other encounters with the animal kingdom throughout my childhood. My bother and I would frequently go down to the bush-land near our house and scour the murky swamps for yabbies using a tiny net. These miniature, brown crayfish were metaphorically dead the moment we pulled them out from the muddy water bed. As soon as we got them home we would take them out of that filthy, brown swamp-water and place them into a fresh swallow of clean, fluoridated tap-water. And then we would feed them bread crumbs. But the pain of homesickness must have been overwhelming, as none of them survived more than a week without their swampy chums. But that’s life: you’re born, you live a bit, you struggle, you eat some bread and you die. It’s the life-cycle for all animals. Right?

And now I’m in Jersey looking after three dogs. My mouth is watering but I’ve run out of matches.

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