Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The demise of penguins and badgers
Time was I could rely on penguins to cheer me up. No longer. Just their fluffy buzzard heads (which I know is a bird mixed metaphor) and their flappers were enough of a tonic.
Sadly my recent visit to Busch Gardens where the penguin show was flagged as something of a highlight has cured me of my notion of penguins as a panacea for all ills. Zara was unhappy that I forgot to bring dirty hard currency which meant she was unable to attempt to win an angry bird by throwing a dart at the head of one of the hapless Busch Garden workers dressed as elves.
“Don’t worry. I said. There’s always the penguins.”
And let’s face it. There was always the penguins wasn’t there? During times of terrorist attacks, plane crashes and global warming, all we needed was an image of a cuddly penguin and – hey presto, like a giant Band Aid on all the world’s problems, everything was hunky dorey.
We had to wait in a long line for the penguin show, which I was told was more of a walk-past. Finally we got into a dingy house with a few small penguins clustered behind glass, along with a handful of bigger Emperor penguins.
“They stink,” said Zara.
And sure enough they did. The penguin house was awash with stinky fish water and the penguins looked pathetic and smelled badly which got me wondering why we had lined up for an exhibit that wouldn’t be seen to be fit to grace a Bogota zoo.
After this incident I fell out with penguins. I’m fickle like that.
Today I realized badgers are also missing from my life. Back in the day almost every Wednesday I would stroll across the House of Commons and have tea with a Member of Parliament. He was not a particularly important or influential member of Parliament. But he was something of an expert on badgers.
We would talk about the black and white fellas until we were black and blue in the face and the sun went down. We would talk about bovine TB. I would urge you at this critical juncture not to be overly jealous and to want a part in such sparkling repartee.
But the strange thing about badgers is nobody in the USA seems to know much about them, even though I’m told they exist here and there’s a Wisconsin based university team called the Badgers. I assume badgers must exist here because why would you name your team after a non native animal unless it’s something macho like a tiger? Otherwise it would be like the Boston Duck Billed Platypuses.
I have emailed a number of people today asking them if they know of the existence of badgers in America. So far nobody has replied. I wonder now if there’s some kind of sinister conspiracy of silence about badgers in the USA. Is to mention badgers like mentioning the secret society in Eyes Wide Shut where influential folks dress like Gandalf and take part in sex orgies?
Nobody got this movie but I found it rather interesting as is anything by Stanley Kubrick, the obsessive director who probably got off on making Tom and Nicole do sex scenes when there was clearly no chemistry between them following Nicole’s discovery she had married a short guy.
I also admire Kubrick as a talented American who, like T.S. Eliot, chose to live in England for much of his life. I’m only sorry he never had time to devote a movie to penguins and badgers. Perhaps he could have used a curious story that emanated in Basra during the Iraq war that British troops had let giant man eating badgers loose on the streets.
Which is the sort of scary thing our boys and girls in combat fatigues do in war zones after destroying the morale of the local population by carpet bombing civilians with dead penguins.