The circle of life


Not the Lion king.

I like that over the years animated movies haven’t shied away from certain realities. I suppose that because many of these stories are expanded versions of nursery rhymes and folk tales, there is that element of darkness present.

Jack and Jill is said to based on the beheading of King Louis IVI and his lover Antoinette, breaking his crown (reign) and Jill’s head soon tumbling into the basket in quick succession. This was made more palatable to suit the tender ears of later generations.

Public hangings, beatings and executions were very much a family affair for most of the centuries preceding the Victorian age. It was not considered at all inappropriate to take the children along to such gruesome affairs. Not like today where we (rightly) seek to protect our offspring from the seedier aspects of life for as long as possible.

Exposure to death is inevitable for us all. My grandfather died when I was 8 years old, my other grandfather followed him 5 years later.

Bambi’s Soft spoken mother met her untimely demise pretty soon after the opening scenes Simba’s dad had a similar fate in the Lion king which is basically the same story. I was exposed to animal death fairly regularly. My dad owned a pet shop and also bred dogs, rabbits and cats. It was a basic fact of reality that some wouldn’t survive those early days of life.

My own pets were racing pigeons.

I had my own shed for them and quite a few of the boys my age also had them. The plan was that they would get settled into this home for some months and then we could take them off to some increasingly distant place and let them fly home.

Fantastic Mr Fox put paid to that plan in one visit to the shed.

Only two survived the raid. One succumbed to its injuries soon after and a sole survivor remained. This bird became something of a local celebrity, it no longer resided permanently in the shed but would sit on our kitchen window sill pecking the glass for attention.

He then followed me to school, flying 100 feet above me wherever I went. The teacher was intrigued by this development and in a rare show of humanity took the class out to meet this unusual creature who tapped on her window.

It all came to an abrupt end one summers evening, two of my friends came charging on to the football field with that excited concern and immediacy that children have. They were talking quickly about a police car and my bird and lots of blood.

Sure enough it was true.

There was enough of his head left to know for sure that this wasn’t some random pigeon but was in fact mine. He never had a name, but he was mine. The concerned circle of children waited with interest to see how all of this would play out. Not being one for drama I calmly walked home to get a spade and a bag.

Only when he was safely buried did my emotions crack and the grief for a rodent bird came out.

Yesterday in the garden we noticed an unholy stench by the fence, it was concluded that either the bin was not responding well to the sunshine or there was a dead thing somewhere. It was the latter!

Poor Peter rabbit was slowly deflating as the maggots enjoyed his rotting carcass.

This discovery was made when the ball soared over the fence onto the neighbouring garden. I don’t know if maggots get upset but my daughter certainly did.

Sooner or later we will all be like Mr rabbit, the chaos in the markets and the great harumphing in the political world will be of no consequence to us then.

The only thing that will matter is the knowledge that we did everything we could to find the truth and live accordingly.



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