Sunday, September 29, 2013

Heroes & Terrorists

What a complicated world you humans have created for yourselves. I have no doubt at all that Al Shabab consider themselves heroes of whatever misguided cause they follow for planning and carrying out their attack on the Westgate Shopping mall in Nairobi. I'm sure they think it was courageous to spray innocent men, women and children with bullets and to toss the occasional hand grenade about indiscriminately. If they had decided to attack the mall a month earlier, my staff, my female staff's mum and several others in their safari group may well have been caught up in the slaughter.

The trouble is that the old saying - "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" still holds true and recent history holds plenty of examples of "terrorists" who have gained respectability and power through the ballot box. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness brought to you by the nice people of Sinn Fein and the even nicer Irish Republican Army for example. Menachem Begin, the sixth Prime Minister of Isreal was also regarding as a terrorist. Then there's East Timor's first President - Xanana Gusmao. He was probably Indonesia's most wanted "terrorist" for years. Hells Bells! Even Nelson Mandela was (and still is by many white South Africans) regarded as a terrorist.

All of the above mentioned "terrorists" had one thing in common though. They were fighting against real or perceived persecution of the majority by the powerful minority. Not that that excuses the murder of innocents. (Isn't that right Mr McGuinness?) However, loose organisations like Al Shabab and Boko Haram in Nigeria cannot even claim that small legitimacy. Now this latter group has murdered dozens of students as they slept in their dormitory at the Yobe College of Agriculture. If anything, shooting sleeping people is even more courageous than shooting wide awake women and children in a shopping mall. What twisted logic persuades these idiots to believe that this is furthering their cause? (Loosely translated Boko Haram means "Western Education is Forbidden".)

At the start of this raving, rambling, rodent diatribe I opined that you humans have created a complicated world, but you might think that it is quite simple. It is wrong to murder innocent people in pursuit of a cause that has nothing to do with those whom you are murdering. You would of course be correct. However, you humans (including my staff) who live in the "civilised West" continue to vote for governments who perpetuate feelings of frustration, resentment and worse amongst the young, foolish and gullible who live under corrupt, despotic regimes propped up by rich Western nations because they need oil or some strategic advantage. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bahrain, Fiji, Kuwait, Nigeria, and even Turkey to a certain extent. Meanwhile we give the cold shoulder to places like Iran and Cuba who are certainly no worse than any of the above mentioned.  Let's face it, it's no wonder the USA and her allies were convinced that Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons stashed all over Iraq because they had been supplying him with them for years. So, what's the answer? That really is simple. At your next general election vote for your local Guinea Pig Party candidate. We may not know much about politics, but when's the last time you heard of a guinea pig causing innocent deaths? (Unless you count that time in Peru when one of the locals fed roasted guinea pigs that had been left too long in the sun to a wedding party.)

Now, then. Let me introduce you to Boris. Many of you will know him as one of my new neighbours along with his little nephew Baci. Boris has quite a strong German accent due to the fact that he mostly ate sauerkraut at his last home. He say's he wants to contribute to my blog, so to be friendly I thought I'd give him a chance. I hope you can understand what he's saying. (Apologies to my German readers)

Guten tag everybody. First ich vould like to sank Herr Billy for givink me ze opportunity to put in meine zwei cents vorth at ze end of his blog. Ich am avare that ich haben grosse shoes to fill if meine footnote ist to become anyvhere near as popular as der late, great Badger's. Still ich must try, und so it ist meine grosse pleasure to remind Herr Billy zat meine own beloved Germany has been selling dodgy chemicals to zat Schei├če-kopf Bashar Al Assad for years. Auf wiedersehen.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Meringue And The Chocolate Mouse

On Thursday my male staff disappeared for half the day, leaving Paolo the budgie and I at home, Paolo making irritating scraping noises on his cuttlefish bone and yours truly making soothing, gentlemanly munching sounds as I chomped through my hay. Other than that the house was silent. Then, bang, crash! The front door flew open and in strode my male staff clutching my carrying cage. Bugger! I thought. Looks like I'm off to the vet again. But no inside the carrying cage was a huge white meringue which was wheeking and rumbling. That's odd, I thought. My male staff's food doesn't usually make a noise until he has consumed it. Then blow me if he didn't put his lunch into the now empty cage (sadly vacated by Badger). His lunch then proceeded to run around.  The giant meringue completed a stately inspection of it's surroundings before sitting on top of a pile of hay and fixing me with a curious stare with it's beady little black eyes.

 "Billy," announced my male staff. "Meet your new housemate. This is Boris," he said pointing to the staring meringue, Well! You could have knocked me over with a piece of desiccated bush chocolate. This confectionery item is in fact a guinea pig, and what's more I was expected to share my basil with him. Then horror of horrors, as my male staff turned away, a second piece of confectionery poked it's tiny head out of the hay upon which Boris was sitting. This time it was a tiny chocolate mouse - or that's what it looked like. This chocolate mouse then set about lapping the cage at a speed that would put Insane Bolt (or whatever his name is) to shame.
 "That's my nephew Bacci." Said Boris in answer to my unspoken question.
So, they are settling in and so far have been quite considerate neighbours.No noisy parties so far and Boris and I have had a few chats through the bars of our cages. He told me that there were nearly two hundred piggies at the rescue centre where they were living before my male staff pig-napped them. I asked him who he thinks might rescue him from this mad house, but he just gave me a blank look. Poor innocent fool. He'll learn soon enough. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire.
He told me how my male staff walked around all the cages at the rescue centre about a dozen times. now and again pausing to molest a piggy or two, but still couldn't decide which piggies to "rescue" In the end he heard him chanting something that sounded like......................
"Eeny meeny miney mutt.
Catch a piggy by the butt.
If he squeals grab him and shove him in the carry cage."
Well, guess who was silly enough to squeal when he was grabbed by the butt. Yep, that's right - Boris. Poor little Bacci just happened to be in Boris' cage at the time and he was so small that my male staff didn't even notice that he's picked him up along with Boris and a bundle of hay. The pair of them then got to experience the extreme sport of driving with my male staff. No wonder poor old Boris looked a bit stunned and bulgy-eyed when he arrived.
Anyway, once my male staff arrived home, Boris was plucked from the carry cage along with the afore mentioned bundle of hay and was left alone with a bowl of food and a bottle of water to let him get used to his new surroundings, at which point wee Bacci emerged from the bundle of hay and pushed his way in between Boris' legs to get his fair share of the food. Ten minutes later my male staff returned to see how Boris was settling in and did a comical double take as he spied a second pair of eyes looking up questioningly at him. The first thing he did was grab the phone and call the rescue centre.
  "Hello? Cavy Cottage? I want to complain about the male guinea pig I've just adopted." Naturally I couldn't hear what the nice Cavy Cottage person was saying, but felt sorry for whoever it was.
  "Well, it's not male!" Continued my male staff.
Silence then as the person at the other end spoke. (Silence that is apart from my male staff's incensed heavy breathing.)
  "Of course it's a bloody female. It's had a baby while I was driving home."
More heavy breathing.
  "Look at it's testicles? What sort of pervert do you think I am?"
More heavy breathing.
  "Okay, I'll look." He put the phone down and stomped, muttering darkly under his breath to Boris' cage. He picked him up, ignoring Bacci's mad scamperings and inspected his nether regions. "Humph!" He said loudly and placed a startled looking Boris back in the cage. Then back to the phone.
  "It appears to be a male." He said quietly. "So where did the baby come from?"
Still more heavy breathing.
  "What do you mean I owe you another twenty dollars for the second animal.? If you think I'm going to pay you for a guinea pig I don't even want you've got another think coming. I'll return it right away." At this point Bacci wheeked softly, snuggled up to Boris and gazed up at my male staff while nibbling on a bean. My male staff sighed deeply.
  Will you accept a credit card? He said.

  Boris and Bacci. Ugly great brutes aren't they?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Badger. The Guinea Pig Who Made The World Smile

This is one of the hardest posts I've ever had to write. My best friend Badger passed away sometime during the night of 15 September 2013. He had just turned three. He was in hospital and I was at home so I didn't even get to say goodbye. My staff did. They went to visit him on Sunday afternoon. It was a lovely warm day, so they took him into the car park and sat with him on their laps and tried to feed him some of his favourite things - basil, coriander and corn husks. He barely nibbled at any of them. When they came home they told me that he didn't look well. His beady little eyes were dull and he just looked so tired.
He had numerous problems, possibly caused by poor care at the hands of a guinea pig breeder with whom my staff had left us while they went to Africa. (Believe it or not we didn't really go with them.) The trouble is you see, he never drank water. He got all the moisture his little body needed from the lovely juicy vegetables my staff would feed him, but while we were with the breeder we only got carrots, cabbage and dry pellets. It looks as though all the cabbage gave him bloat, which was treated successfully and the lack of water caused a bladder infection, possibly even a kidney infection.

When piggies are poorly we don't eat; and when we don't eat we stop pooping and our entire digestive system starts to shut down. Both the vet and and my staff were cramming poor Badger with something horrid called critical care. It's an aniseed flavoured mush that is forced into our mouths by syringe. I've had it myself - Blech! Anyway, it's supposed to sustain us if we're not eating and it stimulates our appetite. That's the idea anyway. It's didn't work with Badger and he just lost more and more weight until he looked about half his usual size. Then to fix his dehydration problem the vet gave him multiple injections of subcutaneous fluid. Which is vet-speak for having a horse needle stuck in your butt.

On Monday morning at eight 'o' clock the phone rang. My female staff had already left for work, but my male staff being a lazy bastard pretends to work from home so it was he who picked up the receiver.  He was expecting a call from Cara - our vet who rang with frequent updates - all the ups and downs of Badger's health. My male staff could tell immediately from the tone of Cara's voice that it was bad news. Badger had passed away during the night. My male staff immediately drove down to the vet surgery to bring him home and bury him in the garden under the evodia tree next to Tikki, Wiggles and Biggles the budgies.

When he arrived at the vet he was met by Cara who said she wanted to do a postmortem to see what had finally killed him in case it had implications for yours truly. My male staff agreed and Cara placed Badger, wrapped in a towel and still cold from the fridge on a table in a private room so that my male staff could have some time with him. I wasn't there of course, but my male staff told me that he slowly unwrapped the towel and uncovered Badger's little body. Well, that really did it. My male staff burst into a series of wracking sobs, picked Badger up and clutched him to his chest, tears streaming down his face and soaking his shirt.

After a while he pulled himself together enough to be able to drive home, where he picked me up and started bawling all over again. My fur still hasn't dried out properly. Later that day he returned to the vet surgery to collect and bury Badger's body, more tears. As it turned out my female staff had had a rotten day at work, not helped by my male staff's phone call telling her of Badger's demise. So once more I was dragged from my cage and cried on.

Now a few days on from that horrible Monday we all still feel waves of sadness wash over us. Especially when a British crime drama comes on the telly. These were Badger's favourites. He would sit on one of my staff's lap and take in every clue, rumble at every villain. It had to be British though. He thought the American ones were over-blown and over-acted. If my staff turned him around to face them when one of his TV programmes was on he'd glare at them and quickly turn back to face the telly. 

As you all know, Badger had a foot fetish and his "foot notes" at the end of my weekly blog posts became very popular. I will leave you this week with my favourite. Thank you Badger for three years of fun and happiness.

I have a fear of dirty feet, but some people have a general fear of feet. (Podophobia) This includes their own feet. What a terrible affliction to have because no matter how fast you run, the bloody things will always keep up with you.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cooking With Poo

Government health campaigns are all well and good, but they can have unexpected consequences. On this occasion I once again refer to the bowel screening campaign I mentioned a while ago. Back then you may recall that my male staff had a dispute with the post office over how they treating his sample of bush chocolate. He was dissatisfied with the slap-dash way they intended to post it to the testing centre. He insisted that they send it priority post in case the prized sample deteriorated en route. (I recall saying to my male staff that I wasn't sure that poo goes off, or indeed has a "best before" date, but he wouldn't listen.)

Anyway, on this occasion the bowel health campaign caused my male staff to lose three passports, just when they were most needed. In the sample kit were instructions and advice on bowel health which advised people to inspect their bush chocolate at every opportunity. I'm not sure what they were supposed to be looking for - coins, gold rings, false teeth - that sort of thing I imagine. In any case my male staff took this advice to heart and now makes a point of closely inspecting the contents of the toilet bowl on a regular basis. Please excuse me if this comes under the category of "Too much information" but bush chocolate is very close to the heart of all guinea pigs. Indeed it makes up a vital part of our diet. So much so, that one Thai guinea pig owner has written a recipe book on the subject.

Many of you will know that my staff, my female staff's mum, Badger and I all visited Africa recently. My male staff likes to keep everyone's passports in his shirt breast pocket for easy access so that he can whip them out with a triumphant flourish when asked for them at the immigration desk. Well, when we arrived at Brisbane - our home airport none of us had been able to get the the aircraft toilet for the final few hours of the flight due to turbulence. In fact it was so bad that Badger decided to spend most of the flight inside his sick bag. So when the plane doors finally opened we all made a made dash to get off so that we could be amongst the first in the nearest land based toilet. My female staff and her mum dashed into the ladies' and my male staff hurried into the gents' with Badger and I in his carry-on luggage.  We had to barge an elderly wheelchair bound man out of the way because the only free cubicle was designated "Disabled" and while my male staff fumbled with his trousers Badger and I hopped out of the bag and deposited several hours worth of bush chocolate in opposite corners.

We waited (paws over noses) while my male staff finished and watched as he stood up, then turned and bent down to inspect the product of his bottom passage as he's been instructed to do by the Australian government. Plop....plop....plop. His passport and those of my female staff and her mum fell one by one into the toilet. A look of abject horror swept across my male staff's face. From our position on the floor it was impossible to see whether or not they had sunk, but we guessed they had because after muttering something that sounded like "Pluck me sideways, that's all I plucking need!" he rolled up his shirt sleeve and after a moment's hesitation during which I swear he dry heaved, he plunged his arm into the toilet bowl, all the while muttering something about "plucking this, plucking that and plucking the other." A strange time to be thinking about de-feathering birds I thought to myself, but under the circumstances I thought it best to keep quiet.

One by one the passports were plucked from the toilet bowl. (Maybe that's what he meant.) Then he shook them a bit, making Badger and I duck for cover, then opened the cubicle door and tripped over his trousers which in the excitement he had forgotten to pull up. This caused no little amusement among the half a dozen or so people who were washing their hands. With as much dignity as he could muster he climbed to his feet, pulled up his trousers and underpants, grabbed us and thrust us into the bag, and then proceeded to wipe the soggy passports as best he could with wads of toilet paper, before shoving them back into his shirt pocket, where they leaked a pale, brownish stain down the front of his shirt. It was most attractive.

 "What took you so long?" Asked my female staff when we eventually emerged from the gent's toilet.
 "Billy and Badger were constipated." Said my male staff. I would have bitten him if I could have escaped from the carry on bag I was in.
 "And what happened to your shirt?" Continued my female staff.
 "Oh that. I spilled coffee on it."
 "What were you doing drinking coffee in the toilet anyway? And what's that horrible smell?"
 "Never mind that." Said my male staff hurriedly changing the subject. "Let's get through passport control, get our bags and get home. I'm exhausted."

Poking my head out of the bag I couldn't help but notice that our fellow passengers were giving us a wide berth as we walked towards passport control and when we finally reached the desk, the bored looking immigration officer suddenly looked less bored and more sort of............horrified. Especially when my male staff handed him three damp, brown tinged passports around which buzzed half a dozen large black flies. The immigration officer gingerly took them in his finger tips and leafed through them as though they were covered in poo - which is understandable since they were. Each time he stamped them there was a kind of rather disgusting squelching sound and little droplets of khaki shaded water sprayed onto his own formerly pristine white shirt. Finally he handed the offending documents back to my male staff who thanked him politely, as one always should thank immigration officials who have handled your poo smeared travel documents.
 "Ahhh. It's good to be back in Australia." Said my male staff as we finally emerged from the terminal building. "You can smell the eucalyptus trees already."
 My female staff wrinkled her nose. "I can't smell any eucalyptus trees, but whatever that God-awful smell in the terminal was seems to have followed us out here. And where have all these flies come from?"

Badger sends his apologies this week. He is currently laid up in a veterinary hospital in Brisbane. He thinks he has athletes foot, but the vet insists that it is bloat. Hopefully he'll be back next week.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Ostrich

Incredibly, given that the whole thing was organised and escorted by my male staff, our recent African safari went rather well. There were one or too minor hiccups, like Nairobi Airport burning to the ground on the day we arrived and my female staff's mum's hot air balloon ride over the Masai Mara landing upside down on a lion. Neither of these incidents could in any way be attributed to my male staff's incompetence, and fortunately this was recognised by the group members. Even my female staff's mum eventually forgave my male staff, admitting (reluctantly) that it was not really his fault that the lion ate her best hat. Initially she complained bitterly to my male staff, who casually replied that he would not be held responsible for her landing on the only lion in Kenya with a taste for fine millinery. To this she said "I don't like your attitude." To be honest he didn't really help the situation with his reply.
 "It wasn't my hat he chewed. It was yours." She thought about this for a moment before storming off to her tent to make an insurance claim. Anyway, all is forgiven.

What else? Oh yes. Another of my male staff's elderly guests had her entire Imodium supply stolen from her room by a vervet monkey. She asked my male staff what she should do about it, but he just shrugged and advised her to keep her door shut in future, and that she needn't worry about him coming back to steal her toilet paper.

The world's most constipated monkey. (Note the glazed eyes.)

It must be said that this elderly lady was not the only one to have monkey trouble. The monkeys at the Serena Lodge at Amboseli National Park are particularly vengeful. Game viewing vehicles parked there with open roofs are liable to be thoroughly searched for food and drink by these pesky primates. The trouble is that if they don't find anything worth eating they take a large odious dump on one of the seats. Apparently it takes about three months to get rid of the smell. This may be why we saw so many Chinese and Japanese tourists wearing those ridiculous face masks in their vehicles. Come to think of it, maybe that's why Michael Jackson was often seen wearing a mask. Perhaps his chimp Bubbles had crapped in his car.
So, now we are back in Australia, a nation facing the real possibility of electing a new government on September the seventh headed by a bloke called Tony Abbott who says that climate change is a myth. Actually he said it is "a load of crap" but I don't like to use the word "crap" more than once a week if I can help it. Oh crap!  There, I've used it again. Dammit! That's four times now. Honestly how can a nation elect a Prime Minister who believes that the greatest ever threat to mankind is not happening. They have creatures like him in Africa. They call them ostriches.

I have returned from Africa with an alarming medical emergency. I have bloat. It's very painful, I'm not eating, and I'm pooping less than a monkey who's eaten a whole packet of Imodium. Worse still, I can't see my beautiful feet over the top of my swollen tummy.