Animal World

It’s been another wintry week but today the sun broke through, the air is cold and crisp and the blue sky looks freshly washed and clear. The days are getting longer and I can feel spring just around the corner. Camp, my cohort and weekly sparring partner over a couple of pints, was already in place at our usual table. Obviously business was slow at the bookstore.

“Did you know that Insects are dying at a catastrophically and unprecedented  rate,” he said as soon as I sat down.

“Insects like bugs and flies?”

“An international team of scientists in Sydney, Australia, warned that in a mere 100 years, half of all insects will be extinct. A loss of 2.5% yearly of their biomass indicates a disastrous trend, brought on by – guess who – yours truly, mankind. Intensive agriculture, pesticides, loss of landmass to roads and cities, imported parasites and increased temperatures in water and air. Butterflies and bees are amongst the most vulnerable.”

“Well, I don’t mind if the mosquitos, wasps and cockroaches go away but I like butterflies and honeybees,” I said.

“I’m glad you’re not in charge of species selection,” he said.

“Talking about parasites and vermin. What do you think should be done with all those international ISIS returnees from Syria,” I said.

“I do feel that if you join a group of radicals that are intent on killing everybody else and commit and support acts of terror against innocent civilians, you have turned your back on civilisation, your country, neighbours, friends and family,” Camp said.

I agreed. “To take them back into our society poses a real dilemma. Are these people, many young mothers amongst them, so radicalised and fucked up that they’ll never fit back in and will either be life long welfare cases or a threat to public security or end up in jail? Any which way, their return will come at a great cost to our society. Maybe their citizenship should be pulled – for treason – and they should be left to live out their lives where they chose to go.”

“Yeah, but nobody wants them there either,” Camp countered. “Not the Kurds, the Syrians or the scattered ISIS remnants.”

“Maybe Russia should offer them asylum,” I said, “since we are not prepared to forgive them and offer them a second chance.”

“Talk about sub-human species, what do you make of Michael Cohen’s testimony about what a low form of life his former boss is,” I asked Camp but I already knew the answer.

“It’s a broken system that can elect a person of such low moral standards to lead the nation as their president.”

We both concentrated on our drinks, since we were unable to fix the world’s problems.  I had something positive to bring to the table and it was high time to change the subject. “Did you know that lobsters can theoretically live forever?” I said, sitting back in my chair.

Camp looked at me as if I’d grown a second head, obviously taken aback by my change of direction. “No, I have to confess I didn’t know that.”

“Although they are still susceptible to death by disease or attacks, lobsters have an enzyme known as telomerase, which prevents the DNA in their cells from being damaged as they are replicated.”

“Bloody amazing. I’m sure the pharmas are all over that enzyme. The fountain of youth.”

Vicky dropped by to see why we hadn’t finished our first pints. “Not thirsty today?” she asked.

“We’re just taking it easy,” Camp said, “and did you know that lobsters never age and can live forever?”

“I guess they have no worries and bills to pay, no stress, no expectations and apart from humans, no enemies.”

“And they don’t need another beer either,” Camp said.




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