I Just rode a borrowed bike through 20 kilometres of glorious, typically French pasture land. French countryside has that ramshackle style so reminiscent of my English childhood. A style so conspicuously missing from the Swiss equivalent where everything is overdone. Few broken fences there and hedgerows precision cut by order maniacs with perfectionist, personality disorders. Twas indeed glorious. Winter raised it's ugly head last night but one last stand from this years "endless summer" had me stuffing jacket, gloves and muffler hat into my already over stuffed shoulder bag after only a kilometre. The snow capped Pyrenees guided me to my destination, a house badly in need of renovation that is home to Murray Head, English ex-pat singer/actor and writer of a very famous and successful song called "Say It Aint So, Joe". They say that his garden gate is shamefully rusty and so my mind was set on going to try and sort it out.
On the way I was wonder struck by the melancholy green of the grass and the intoxicating, syrup thick nostalgia, as rolling pasture slipped over tree lined brow, down and out of view towards the river that surely runs unseen, parallel to the road I was travelling.
A question presented itself to my absent mind. Were cows always this unhappy? Did they lose the ability to smile at some point in the distant past? Perhaps cows never smiled. This is possible. It could be my faulty memory. I can't honestly remember seeing a cow smile, even when I was a boy. But surely they were happier then. It broke my heart to see the look of utter despair, again and again, field after field, mile after tragic mile, as the distance between an old man on a bicycle and a hideously rusty gate diminished. Slowly I was beginning to put one and one together, and then another one that, despite rigorous investigation and faultless reasoning kept coming out, three. The other "ones" in this mathematical formula are an emotionally traumatised cat in the house where I am living at present and a depressed dog, the pet of a friend living in my last temporary abode in Geneva, that is on anti-depressants. Really! He is diagnosed as depressed and is being treated in the time honoured Genevan manner. But why am I surprised? Surrounded as I now am, I see very clearly the predictable and unavoidable result of mankind's effect on the animals in it’s entourage. Animals can't party to hide the pain. There is no animal equivalent of alcohol or cannabis, television or facebook. I have always been an animal lover and part time animal rights activist (although there was a time when I ate them as well) but I am beginning to see the plight of animals in a different light. I am thinking of creating an international organisation to get all imprisoned animals on medication. Lets face it there is no chance of improvement in their psychological state. They are fucked. And most of them know it.
Permission to digress? Another question presented itself. Where have all the curlews gone. Long time passing. And then another. Where have all the lapwings gone, long time ago? For if ever there existed curlew and lapwing country, this was surely it. If I could have found another living soul I would have asked him or her if they remembered curlews and lapwings, skylarks and green finches, linnets and yellow hammers. Ok it's not the season, but then again, it's never the season now for these disappeared creatures. Perhaps they will come back one glorious day when the fences are broken everywhere and not just in France and England. Nature will glory in the demise if not the total disappearance of the human race and the cows will perhaps learn to smile again.
PS. Murray Head wasn’t home. But I left him a good price for the paint job in his broken letter box.