Sunday, 2 September 2012

wondering where the lions are

Sun's up, uh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me
I had another dream about lions at the door
They weren't half as frightening as they were before

A sort of Greek "Narnia"
 (lion, witch, wardrobe, whatever
As Bruce Cockburn finished the song and as the applause started, Mrs Dave leant over and said, "I think they're in Essex". Evidently not but the story lingers.

We travelled to Cambridge yesterday to see Cockburn with great excitement as I'd never seen him live before. I had bought lps of his back in the mid 1980s before we even came up to Suffolk. He's been around since the 1970s but still not that well known over here. I know he plays the Greenbelt festival quite often but that's often the only time he's over here. Only Christians are allowed to go there and I'm not sure I could stomach a whole festival full of them. He started the evening with If This Was the Last Night of the World which is my favourite song of his so I knew we were in for a treat.  We weren't disappointed. It's a lovely little theatre for about 200 - very intimate. Perfect for such a night.

Anyway, back to those lions.  It seems that although nobody can actually verify their existence (its?) the story wants to hang around. It was still being discussed on Radio 4 this morning. A panel of reviewers of the newspapers all came out in denying the existence of the "Essex Lion" although one of them claimed to have seen a dead leopard by the side of a road in England (I'm not sure whereabouts). Obviously that doesn't mean there's a lion roaming about in Essex! But it's interesting that people seem to want to believe in such stories. An article in Friday's independent says that although there's no lion in Essex, there is a poisonous snake. We seem desperate to believe that there are all sorts of wild animals roaming the British Countryside - pumas, lions and leopards, lynxes, dinosaurs (well, the Loch Ness Monster).

There are some unusual ones out there, of course. Recently in Yorkshire I spied some wild Macaws and we know of parakeets (I've seen one in Ipswich but that may have been an escapee), wallabies, wild boar and now beavers in Scotland and in the future, we are promised, wolves. I was reminded of that last weekend as I drove past Wolves Wood in Suffolk on my way down to a beer festival in Edwardstone. It's name, I presume, is a reminder of the fact that they used to roam wild in this country. If they are reintroduced, they won't be wild (livid, maybe) but under controlled circumstances.  Is there really any point? They're busy spending a fortune on reintroducing long-since gone creatures while modern practices are causing the obliteration of current species at a ridiculous rate.  Insects and invertebrates are being lost at an alarming rate yet we seem determined on introducing species that have died out (not extinct) and can't survive on these - overcrowded - islands. Don't get me wrong, I would love to say I've seen some of these things in the wild, but truth to tell - as the sea eagles have proved, they'll be hunted to extinction. Nobody really wants them. For sure, it's a shame but we have to live in the moment.

I don't know if there are really exotic creatures waiting in the darkness of the woods but I'm still excited by simple pleasures - I was quite upset not to see the red squirrel behind our tent in Yorkshire last month. I was, however, very excited to see swallowtails, pelicans and egrets in Greece. They're able to coexist there, nobody minds them. Here, we seem to not care about everyday exotics we see - jays and goldfinches for example (and soon sparrows will be a rare exotic); and swallows are less likely to be turning up over here over the next few years.

I'd like to keep the mystery of the rare creatures - like unicorns, lions and their ilk should be hidden and rumoured. We don't actually need to see them to believe in them do we? Do we really need a corpse to accept that there are strange things out there?  I love the idea that there may be unusual, exotic and rare creatures out there.  I'd love to see something but I don't need to actually see them to continue to hope that they're out there in the woods, fields and hills.

Cut and move on
Cut and move on
Take out trees
Take out wildlife at a rate of species every single day

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