Lucky for me I’m not a dentist, and therefore can’t afford to shoot a lion in Zimbabwe. That means I don’t have to hide from the angry, democratic mob. (Millions of them on the Internet, demanding capital punishment for this solecism alone.) And what is worse, their post-modern reasoning.
Instead, I can sit here quietly with my tea, and indulge my own post-modern thoughts. And read old poems about Africa:
Young muscular Edwardian
Swings through trees,
Stops carnage at Karnak,
Whole trains at Windhoek,
Dances waltzes simianese.
Lord Greystoke jad guru! …
Truth to tell, even if I were rich beyond the dreams of avarice, like a dentist, I would probably want to shoot something else. For after all, lions are cats, and cats have souls. Everybody knows that; or at least, everyone on Facebook and Twitter. (Do dogs have souls? Depends on the breed.)
Maybe I wouldn’t shoot anything at all. The automobiles seem to be taking care of the raccoons. (We have glorious big ones in Parkdale, here; big like bears! Take out the front of your Honda.)
And anyway, I’m more into books.
A dumb yellow drum
Hangs down from the night.
For the rite of the Dum Dum
Come the cousin apes.
He who would wear Bond Street
And opera capes
Prefers loin cloths of
Lady Jane Greystoke jad guru! …
Will the media be there, I wonder, when the beta male in that lion pride steps up to fill Cecil’s empty … paws? For he will then, I would think, in the lion way, snuff all of Cecil’s kittens. That’s what the new alpha lion does, according to the best BBC documentaries. He starts by wiping out the old lion’s progeny.
Sort of the way Mugabe did, when he came to power.
Perhaps someone else has made this point: I haven’t surveyed the controversy as thoroughly as I might have. Only enough to see that Cecil spent most of his time smiling for the cameras.
Nigel (or whatever the beta-male lion was called) must have spent his time sulking, and dreaming of the day. You know, that very moment — the moment Cecil got blammed.
For alpha males (whether lions, or dentists) don’t waste much time thinking about the optics. But beta males are Darwinian; they think about what it’s going to look like, every day. (A little sidelight there, on evolutionary biology.)
“There is no gay in a lion pride.” You can quote me on that. … Er, on second thought, don’t quote me.
Instead, quote James Reaney. He’s a white male who is safely dead:
Mazumba waves his spear!
Oh the white beach and the green palms!
Stygian night between the ears!
Oh Prince of slaughter do not bungle
My jugular vein within the jungle.
And springboks flee across the plains
From apes with silver headed canes.
Edward VII jad guru!
No, no, I have changed my mind. I think maybe I’d like to shoot a Barbary Lion. Nobody’s done one of those, lately.
They are something to look at: narrower faces, meaner expressions than your standard East African. A bit taller, too, and heavier: hard to miss. … (Easier to weigh them, once they are stuffed.) … Lots of testosterone (before that)!
The last one was observed to be extinct, by the Frenchman who shot it, in Morocco back in 1922. Or so it says here. (It says something different in the Wicked Paedia.) But someone said he saw a live one in the Atlas Mountains, a few decades after that.
Let’s go for it, I say.
Barbaries are (unless they were) big-hair lions: rich, dark, resplendent manes, of hippie length. (Such a wonderful target!) Indeed, better than hippies, because sans the ponytail, and the thinning on top. More closely related to the lions of India, I have heard. Ate lots of natives in their heyday, I’ll bet.
And Christians, I suppose, in the Forum. The Romans must have got their lions from around there.
(As a child in what was once British India, I used to wonder on this account. What was the score this month? How many lions had killed villagers? How many villagers had killed lions? And which side were we rooting for?)
Yes, yes, suddenly I see it: the head of a Barbary Lion would look rather fetching over the hearth. Glaring across the library towards a crouched Bengal Tiger, atop the glass cases on the opposite wall.
So I’ll also need to bag a Bengal Tiger.
And get me a place with a grand hearth. And maybe a higher ceiling.
(But darn, I forgot. I’m not a dentist. I can’t afford swag like this.)