Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fancy a shag?

Photo by Glen Webber

I bet Albert the Albatross does. Amid all the fuss about Happy Feet, the Emperor Penguin who “who took a wrong turn and ended up on a New Zealand beach”, the Spectator (25 June issue) reminds us of the plight of Albert “who arrived in the Firth of Forth in 1967 and has spent 40 years trying to mate with gannets. The nearest female albatross is in the South Atlantic.” The Firth of Forth is in Scotland. The South Atlantic isn’t.

Happily, Happy Feet has survived his or her (Stuff is coy about the bird’s gender and, frankly, who among us would be confident about sexing a penguin? It’s hard enough with young people these days) operations to remove sand from his or her innards.

Possibly the best bit of the story is that Happy Feet needs a permit to return home. Yes, even an emperor penguin needs paperwork. He or she is just like a penguin in bondage. So here is Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention in Stockholm on 21 August 1973 performing “Penguin in Bondage”:

The band was George Duke on keyboards, Ralph Humphrey on drums, Ruth Underwood on percussion (tragically we can only glimpse her), Jean-Luc Ponty on violin, Tom Fowler on bass, Bruce Fowler on trombone and Ian Underwood (beardy guy on the left: there would have been no Hots Rats without him) on sax. 

Once, when I was a small boy, in 1960 or so, I escaped my parents, big sister and cousins and ran down the beach at Papamoa and found a dead penguin. I buried it in the sand. I suppose it was a harbinger of global warming or something. Or of Happy Feet.

No comments: