Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Crossword clue hits back
I was chatting with Rich the other day about the idea of going to southern Africa at some stage, and I said that I'd only consider wandering around the Veldt if I could have a gun to scare off all those big dangerous animals. And that's the beauty of Britain- there's nothing here to be afraid of- nothing that will kill and eat you. There's no way your body will be found half dismembered up a tree with bite marks on your skull.
So, on Sunday evening I found myself on Welney bank with Dunc, taking in the night atmosphere, quietly listening to a Corn Crake out on the wash, at ease in the enveloping darkness. Our eyes didn't strain to resolve the shadows; we were content just to soak up the aural landscape that we were in the middle of- unseen amongst the birds that,by day, would be too wary to accept our presence as the dominant species.
Further along the bank the long grass rustled- a deer probably, and in a moment it's going to get a shock as it picks up our scent.
It's still moving- it's... getting closer, and now I don't think it's a deer any more- this is no high stepping agile long-legged herbivore, eager not to be heard-a fox maybe! Surely a fox is too well equipped with keen sight not to have seen us in the near-blackness, especially as we must have been silhouetted against the last remant of light.
I can see something now... surely not.. it's... still... coming... straight... towards... us! There is a point in all good horror films where the victims finally realise they've become the target. The shark or alien, or axe-wielding maniac is on course, and getting faster- but this is England- what can possibly happen.
Whatever was going to happen was now going to happen very shortly. A black wake of parting vegetation was just about visible- like the path of a torpedo- a torpedo heading straight amidships- my amidships. The rustle had now grown to a seething roar as whatever it was homed in- and at that point all sorts of things happened in my head.
The first emotion that suddenly replaced the slight puzzlement that I had been experiencing when the Thing was still distant, was one of disgust, aimed squarely at Dunc. It was triggered by the realisation that I was now being used as a human shield- Duncs trembling hand clutching my arm as he cowered behind me. Cowardice in the face of the enemy I call it- not at all British.
Disgust turned to despair almost before I realised how ashamed with him I was - despair at the sudden awareness that now my own escape route was cut off now that Dunc was in the way. Worse than that there was a gate blocking further retreat. Disbelief unleashed histrionic giggling as neither of us could come to terms with the terrible fate that approached - the brain's refusal to accept this improbable situation despite the facts before us - causing internal combustion of grey matter as logic cells imploded.
The Beast was now only twenty feet away and not stopping. My conscious mind was now useless- it had resigned and gone home, leaving only one thing left. Instinct.
Without really being aware of what i was doing, my hands reached down to my coat pockets, and my arms stiffened.
Rule 1 when confronting danger- Make yourself big.
My arms spread out and my jacket was now the tail of a Peacock.
This did not work.
It clearly couldn't see me.
I ka-kawed like a fool.
I even flapped my arms.
What on earth was I doing.
Finally the Beast stopped- just ten feet away. It stopped but it didn't retreat. We'd stood firm- held our ground- called its' bluff. Surely we had won- or at least drawn. This was the end of the film- there can't be a final twist- no final lunge just when you thought you were safe! Christ alive let this end.
The dark shape just sat there- sizing us up.
If only I could see more clearly.
A beam of light suddenly appeared over my shoulder and pointed along the bank.
Where was that five minutes ago??!!
The Badger- at last aware of our presence turned and bolted.
It's all very well seeing them on Springwatch- but up close they certainly scare the Four letters, something, something, i, something out of you.
And we all laughed and vowed never to speak of this again.Ever.