Thursday, 21 January 2010

Born Free.

(and this is Spooky)

Just about everything that I know about China I learn from Bebeto – a cheerful man who sells excellent roast chicken from a mobile rotisserie, every Sunday in the local market.

My children named him Bebeto because he has a very slight resemblance to the footballer of the same name that played in Brazil’s football world cup team of 1998.

And, although there IS something weirdly exciting about the possibility of a professional footballer from a vibrant and distant country choosing to settle down as an expatriate fowl vendor in the country that defeated his own in the final, I suspect his real name is more like 溜马力金.

Or something.

And that reminds me of someone else - let’s call him Bill.

Bill was a juggler, I was a juggler and at the time it seemed like EVERYONE was a juggler – except the good folk of Maastricht, Holland who came to see each of us perform .. ooh… a LONG time ago now.

One of Bill’s numbers was a Cigar Box routine, one of my numbers was a Cigar Box routine and at the time it seemed that EVERY juggler was doing Cigar Box routines!

I had scoured London’s Soho area until I had found one of the few remaining cigar purveyors in the capital and scrounged hundreds of beautiful cigar box labels. With a pot of glue and patience I decorated my boxes to look like the real thing – because they weren’t - they were juggling cigar boxes of course, made specially.

Bill had a different approach and with equal patience he had stencilled Chinese Characters on to his.

They looked cool.

“What does it say”, I asked.
‘I don’t know”, he replied, “I copied it from a Soy Sauce bottle”.

Anyhow, Bebetto – who’s real name I have just randomly picked from the “insert symbol” tag – informs me that this year’s, well that’s really next year’s, Chinese Year – the Tiger – begins, auspiciously in my view – on February 14th,

So the Tiger leaps in on Valentine’s Day, in a leap year – a sort of double leap.

And it is probably not just by chance that the WWF has chosen to prioritise the Tiger from among the list of endangered species – thus making the year of the tiger (Chinese) the year of the tiger (endangered),

All leaping together in the leap year (me).

Except there won’t be much leaping – there are only about 3,200 Tigers left in the world.

And that isn’t ANYWAY near enough - even though it might be a lot more than there are Gorillas.

The really weird thing is that there are - apparently – 4000 tigers in Texas, which is more than you will find walking around India.

They are pets of course, or in a zoo, and in fact my sources tell me that there are about 12,000 such like tigers in America!

Which seems like quite a lot, I think -certainly in comparison with wild ones. Or gorillas.

At the same time that all these tiger tales tumble towards me I read, albeit in a December edition of The Week, that a well known German animal trainer (though I’ll be honest here – I had never heard of him) had just started his act when he stumbled and fell.

His co-stars – the tigers –pounced and feasted, leaving him alive but not very well.

Which I think goes to show -if there was any doubt - that most of those 12,000 pets should be living free.

And that Cigar Box juggling is probably safer.

But you’ll probably just label me a hopeless idealist.


Janet Bianchini said...

Once again a great read!

I nominate the picture of your cute black cat for an Oscar Award for the "Best Photo of a cat" award. It looks really lovely in the snow.

Janet Bianchini said...

Ps Sorry, I mean, I nominate "Spooky" in this post!

For best title, I like "Diminuitive Potholers" and also "Ere we go, ere we go!"