You must note that this month I have had to brave the picket lines in order to deliver you this column, as you will be well aware of the fact that BBC journalists have voted for strike action. And who can blame them? An expense account of conservative MP proportions, allowing them to travel the world by first class air, staying for weeks in top hotels, possibly accepting a few back-handers if they write in the odd product name (heaven forbid, no?) and only a few hours work per week? A career of making things up instead of getting a proper job? And now, the BBC wants to sack a few of them. How could this be, they are a protected species, surely? Well good old Auntie, it’s high time it cut a few costs if it is to be continually bankrolled by us, the public, despite it rarely showing anything on TV that I am remotely interested in. I can’t remember the last time I listened to the World Service, but I don’t remember that being very interesting either, maybe I was asleep at the time.
Wasn’t it great to see a new winner at Wimbledon last month, good old what’s-his-name, you know that new bloke. Yes him, oh come on, the one from some third world eastern block country? Because that is how it ended isn’t it? The two greatest players in the sport dethroned while our nation bites its finger nails and backs our very own hero for a few days and then goes to the pub before the finish. What is wrong with our sportsmen and women? Why are they so good at nearly winning? May I suggest that, after the Olympic Games next year, London hosts another event. The NEARLY Olympics. Our teams can line up as favourites in their respective sport alongside other less equipped nations and then compete frantically until the very last second, when they can fall over and come second. They would then be crowned Nearly World Champions! Team GB would win every event and Prince Harry and Boris Johnson wouldn’t be able to hand out the medals fast enough.
Last year we bought a few sheep and, thanks to nature, we now have a few more, nine in total. What I failed to notice, when we collected our purchases last summer was how outrageously wild two of them were. I should have spotted the tell-tale signs, them climbing the walls trying to escape for instance, a bit of bleu-du-maine ancestry (I know about that breed!) I should have been suspicious of. However, I am very glad to say that our flock has been pretty low maintenance. Lambing time came and went without a hitch, we missed worming time and dipping time due to such dry weather, even ear-tagging time managed to pass us by unnoticed and, as yet, unenforced. But now has come shearing time. Except it hasn’t, because I cannot catch the damn things! I used to consider myself an expert in such matters, so maybe I am just getting too old, but every time I go near these two particular animals they huddle menacingly in the corner, threatening to hurdle my fences and disappear off into the sunset. And that is exactly where they would go too as, if they escaped from our contained oasis, there isn’t other fence between here and Paris. So, in best Baldric fashion, I have a cunning plan! I am considering hosting a Greenham Common re-enactment day to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Friends, friends of friends, neighbours, neighbours of neighbours, young, old, lesbians, hippies, they are all invited to come and hold hands in our field on the same day, circling the perimeter. They can swap stories and sing songs by Billy Bragg about Tridents and Russians until, and here is the cunning part, one by one, some people will eventually get bored and go home. The circle will get tighter and tighter without the sheep noticing they are contained in the middle. At dusk, now in a 10 metre human paddock, I will tackle the sheep and clip off all their wool. What do you think? A plan so cunning, you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel?!
In a world where so many species are endangered and constantly falling into extinction, I am greatly cheered this month to see the arrival of a new species onto our planet, that of the Zonkey. Although it has no stripes, this creature is, of course, the offspring of a cross between a zebra and a donkey, born in a zoo in south east China. It is also destined to become yet another designer pet. I have no doubt that a Zonkey will soon be on the wish-list of the rich and fashionable, in the same way that a Labradoodle or a Bug (a cross between a Boston terrier and a Pug) was a few years back. But what of the designer animals of yesteryear, where are they now? Where is the Shoat for instance, that highly efficient sheep-goat cross that was going to populate our farms one day? Did it ever make it out of the lab (laboratory that is, not the Labrador)? Or the Liger, a well documented cross between a lion and tiger, and its friend the Jaguar XK8. In the interest of modern science, I feel that perhaps some of these controlled crosses should be made with humans. A super-race of Boylotts (OK, I know, stop having a go at Susan Boyle and John Prescott every month) could be bred for the army, where they would sing and annoy people to death. The Beckurray could become race of Fennis stars, swerving the ball over the net and into it alternately, at the wrong time. They could even cross-breed two whole governments to make one? Oh no, that one has been tried. What is it called again, oh yes, a shambles. Zonkey? My Ass!