Mr B is watching an Antiques programme on TV. There are a lot of television programmes about antiques and Mr B watches quite a lot of them, as a result of which he is quite the Armchair Expert. Yes, indeed, this man knows
the difference between Moorcroft and Clarence Cliff. Show him a piece of Troika, and he will not only name it but tell you it originates from Cornwall. When it comes to recognising Tunbridge ware from a common or garden box, he is Your Man. I am always impressed
by how much he has picked up. Metaphorically speaking.
I am not actually watching the programme with him as I am busy designing Birthday Banners for upcoming birthdays
among my Tremendous Ten grandchildren. “Somebody’s being creative!” comments the District Nurse, arriving late morning to bandage Mr B’s legs. I accept this as a compliment, though to be honest my birthday banners are not that creative,
being simply letters cut out from pieces of A4 coloured cardboard and strung together with wool. The most creative my banners ever become is when my Son in Law (known to you all as Dunk’em Dave, on account of his exploits on Family Beach Days) re-arranges
the letters to form a new, generally somewhat inappropriate message.
Anyway, this blog is not actually about antiques or my birthday banners - though you
are possibly about to argue that point. The thing is, while I was stringing letters together, I suddenly caught a quite fascinating observation being expounded by the television presenter. He was talking about explorers in, perhaps, Victorian times (you will
have to forgive me if I am a little sketchy on chronological detail - remember I arrived on the scene, so to speak, mid-conversation) turning up in, say, Africa (I am also a tad unsure of Matters Geographical for the same reasons as above) to see a lion, or
a tiger for the very first time. To really appreciate the sheer “wow” factor, we have to think on the fact that he (or she) would not have been prepared by seeing these amazing animals in a picture book or at a zoo.
“That’s an incredible thought,” I tell Mr B. He looks puzzled, possibly because the presenter is now chatting to two of the contestants who are trying to win something called a Golden
Gavel. Incredible it is not. I suspect it isn’t even made of real gold.
“Just think,” I carry on, regardless (I do this quite a lot. Mr
B says it is one of my more annoying habits. Of which, apparently, I have quite a lot) “Imagine seeing a giraffe for the first time, never having known there was such an animal in the whole world! What would you say?”
Mr B doesn’t reply (he probably reckons it is a rhetorical question. I ask a lot of these) but this doesn’t matter because I am quite caught up with the romance of it all. It would be the
sight of that long, long neck, now wouldn’t it? The explorer - let’s call him Alfred, a good Victorian name if ever there was one - would be all wonderment at how the giraffe managed to move so gracefully - and so fast - with such an encumbrance.
It seems a pity to let the facts get in the way of a good story but when I consulted my friend Google I discovered that the Long Necked One was known of in ancient times
- indeed, it was Julius Caesar (he who came, saw and conquered, don’t you know?) who introduced the first giraffe into Europe in AD 46. Don’t you just love it when the Daily Blog comes over all educational?
When Tala, the older of The Twinkles by one important minute, was younger, she used to categorise family and friends in terms of specific animals. One person might, for example, be a tiger, or another
a lion, king of the jungle. Me, I was always a gee-raff. I liked being a gee-raff. I used to hope it was, perhaps, a recognition of my habit of walking very fast or, better still, my gentle nature.
Though in all probability, as every intrepid explorer would say, it was all about that long, long neck....