I’m back in the Congo and pleased to find things much as I left them.
“Anything untoward happen during my absence?” I ask my females.
“Nothing much,” they reply. “We did rout a couple of baboons who tried to get fresh with us.”
“Rout them or rut them?” I inquire facetiously.
They respond to my quip by hooting loudly and thrusting their hips in my direction. It’s their way of showing appreciation of wordplay and repartee.
At the safari camp, the manager tells me of his New Year’s resolution to eat grilled crocodile meat flavoured with marijuana.
“You’re supposed to give things up rather than acquire new vices,” I remark. “And isn’t eating narcotics illegal for humans in this jurisdiction?”
“Not if you force-feed the crocodiles with the dope rather than using it as a seasoning,” he replies. “If the meat tastes good, I’ll serve it to the guests. It could be Africa’s answer to foie gras.”
There seems to be a method in his madness, but I remain unconvinced.
“Force-feeding crocodiles is a technically complex procedure,” I remind him. “And where are you going to put the captured beasts? In the swimming pool?”
“Yes,” he replies. “A crocodile that’s high on grass is incredibly mellow. It genuinely believes that everyone is its buddy. A pothead croc would happily take our guests for piggyback rides around the pool, which would be an added bonus.”
“If it did that the guests would never eat it,” I point out. “They’d also kick up a fuss if you tried to slaughter it for yourself. Humans can be very sentimental about animals they’ve ridden.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” muses the manager stroking his chin. “We’ll need to have separate pools for the livestock and the pets.”
I utter no more cautionary words about his fanciful scheme. People sometimes have to learn life’s lessons the hard way. A schoolboy won’t stop sliding down a banister until he gets a splinter in his arse.
Of course, the manager’s obsession with gimmicks has blurred his strategic vision. Taming predatory beasts will not be good for the safari business in the long run. After the novelty wears off, tourists will wonder why they didn’t stay at home to cuddle their hamsters or lick their frogs. If people travel five thousand miles to watch an animal behave like a bastard, they don’t want to discover it’s turned over a new leaf and is mincing about like Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Like it or not, we’re in the business of live-action violence.
The part of the safari experience where there’s really room for improvement is back at the guesthouse, where the visitors have to endure each other’s company. I think we should offer free holidays to people who could entertain the other guests with interesting anecdotes. They wouldn’t even have to be in show business. I’ve recently been following the career of an English gynaecologist called Angus Thomson, who was sued by one of his patients for giving her orgasms without her consent. After carefully weighing the evidence, the judge dismissed the case.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the lawsuit, he sounds like a man who has lived life to the full, put his finger in many pies, and watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. I’m sure he’d be a very popular conversationalist at the saloon bar.
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