So regular readers will know I’m not a big animal fan. Actually that’s nowhere near correct. I’m just someone who doesn’t like the concept of pets and having animals in the home. I love animals in their natural habitat and can live with animals being farmed for our consumption provided it is done respectfully. I don’t like zoos. But I appreciate the conservation work. I confess, I am a bit of a protectionist when it comes to animal care and I abhor the harm that comes to some poor creatures especially deliberately. But sometimes, indeed often, animals become harmed by their environment. And there are clusters of people who are there to care for animals who became hurt. I couldn’t do it personally but I applaud them.
And one of those teams is the Wildlife SoS centre based in Leatherhead. Now if you are expecting a publicity puff for their activity from me you’d be very wrong; my forte as you know is to find the absurd and humorous and to poke fun. So here’s the background, the centre was set up by a City whizz kid who got burned out and turned to animal salvation. His name? Simon Cowell. It would be lovey to think it was the BGT/X Factor supremo but it is somebody completely different. Now his animal rescue centre was virtually destroyed by fire in the late 1990’s and to help with the re-build and reconstruction he convinced a tv company to cover their work and screen it on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel and latterly on Channel 5. Which is where I came across it around 5am on those mornings I get up ridiculously early.
Now the programmes date back to just before the turn of the century and it’s all filmed on handheld video. So it’s a little grungey. But I love it on several levels. First off they get called in to rescue or are delivered in by the public all sorts of animal emergencies. They tend to fall into some specific categories – mangey foxes, road-injured deer and badgers, abandoned hedgehog babies, disoriented bats, de-nested fledgling chicks, webbed water birds affected by fishing line/lead/hooks and some oddball stuff like escaped exotic animals.
And all the animals are treated with real care and respect – and a key element of the programme is that many animals are too-far injured and have to be humanely put down which is obviously quite distressing for the staff concerned. But I have to say that the animals are always treated with absolute care and loads of affection. It’s quite touching to be honest.
But fun? Well obviously I don’t relish the anguish but the personalities involved are just right up my street. First up Simon Cowell. He is the staff member most seen on screen rescuing the animals. Surprisingly he’s also the Executive Producer, the show’s narrator and credited with being the programme’s creator and presenter. Is this all about Simon? Well you’d be excused for thinking so. He has this 80’s hairstyle which is thinning rapidly on top but too long at the sides and back…
Then he talks to the animals like they are his injured children. ‘Ok honey I known you’re hurting, hush hush, I’m here for you baby’ …is a typical conversation with an injured rabbit. I find it hard to listen to it without squirming.
And then there are his colleagues, the real stars of the show. First up Christine, the vet. She’s incredibly dedicated and skilful. But she’s one of those massively focused ladies who seem to be dedicated just to their animals rather than people. She sports baggy tops and long untailored and unironed skirts. Her hair is grey and way too long for a 45-50 year old woman. She holds up ferrets and lets them run over her whilst proudly declaring that they are riddled with fleas and ticks. And regular readers will know about my horrifying tick experience https://pastapaulie.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=12578&action=edit. Why on earth would you want to associate with creatures that could give you burrowing critters? I don’t know but here’s a shot of Christine administering dedicatedly to her patients
Then there’s my favourite character Malcolm. He’s like a character from the late 1800’s with a distinctive facial hairstyle…
Whereas Simon is is all talk and front, dear old Malcom is the quiet foot soldier. He gets sent out to catch the hardened water-based creatures; usually the flighty birds with fishing line issues. He chases them through crap and bog, marshland and water edges diving across goose shit-laden ground. But he always gets his waterfowl. The thing is Simon’s commentary always picks up on wholehearted Malcolm’s approach. The other day I watched the film as Malcolm was chasing this elusive Canada Goose and as the bird was proving increasingly hard to catch he said ‘there’s Malcolm, his blood pressure rising as usual’ whilst chasing down the bird.
It was an odd little moment. I got a slight shiver, don’t ask me why. He captured it eventually after sprawling through all sorts of crap and returned it safely to the sanctuary. I really liked uncelebrated Malcolm and here he is again with Christine trying to save some poor mange-ridden fox, like they do…
Later I checked out the Wildlife SOS website and other platforms to try and get some background on the people concerned for some background on this posting because I figured it’d be ripe for having some proper fun. Quelle surprise there was tons on Simon Cowell but so little on everyone else. Then I found an old Facebook posting saying something like Wildlife SoS regret to announce the sad death of Malcolm. It was quite stark. Oh Lord. It was a number of years ago but I couldn’t find any further details. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was blood-pressure related. All of a sudden my penchant for mickey taking seemed so irreverent and shallow.
I have to say I feel pretty rubbish. I wanted this to be a piss-take posting but I’m pleased it’s become more reflective. I was going to have some fun at the way people look and their beliefs. I’m ashamed to admit that that sounds pretty offensive. I need to reflect a bit more before gobbing off methinks.