Spit, spat, said the snake*

“O-bla-di-o-bla-da. Life goes on, yeah…” “O-bla-di… Are you sure? That doesn’t sound right. Is it English?” “That’s what I can hear”, I said. “Wait, the lyrics are in the album. Pair of dummies that we are.” “Yeah”, Erik said. “But remember, we agreed the lyrics can only be used as a last resort.” “Right. Let…

An African childhood. Part 5*

My sister and I spent most of our childhood in Africa, West and East, from 1959 to 1971 with a brief interlude in Amsterdam. What you learn as a child stays with you always. Above: munching elephant in Uganda, Murchison Falls, source of the Nile, 1969. White rhinos, Uganda, 1969. The term “white” is a…

Pot-Pourri two and soixante

Tiger hunt with the Prince of Wales. c.1905. First row, 2nd from the left, holding a stick, Rao Scindia, Maharajah of Gwalior; dressed in a dark suit, the Prince of Wales, future King George V; last from right, with a colonial helmet under his arm, my great-uncle, Frank Onraet, Chief-of-staff of the Maharajah, and organizer…

The last of the wild*

Coati, or coatimundi, in Les Mammifères by Louis Figuier. 1879. 140 years ago. One of the many old books that gather dust on my shelves. That one fell apart. Had to restore it completely, all the while thinking I could make a buck cutting off the engravings and selling them for 10 euros a piece…

My Lord Buddha and the elephant

“What is your name, my son?” “My name is Philip, my Lord. Man calls me Tembo, the elephant.” “Where do you come from, my son Philip? You do not look like your cousins from here.” “I was born in Tsavo my Lord Buddha. In what Man calls Africa. My family was born here for thousands…

Wildlife then.

Wildlife is under a death sentence everywhere. Those giraffes (and ostrich, look closely) I saw in Kenya in 1969, fifty years ago (!) are being snared by poachers. What for? For giraffe hair bracelets? To turn their skin into a carpet? Pointless. As a teen, I was fortunate enough to see the last of the…

Master elephant, cont…d

I was lucky enough to “meet” elephants at a very young age. And see many through my childhood and teens. Above: elephant orphanage, Conakry, Guinea, West Africa, c.1960. R. to l. Three baby elephants, orphaned after their mother was killed by a poacher, yours truly (with white socks if you please), my mother, and little…

Pot-pourri one and fifty

“Evening Captain. Another Pot-Pourri, Sir? It’s been a while.” “Evening Scotty. Yes it has. Do you have your destination?” “Yes, Sir. All over the place?” “All over the place Scotty. Beam us down.” (Above: a chair from Rajahstan. Author’s personal collection. Didn’t go there yet. Bought it here.) Cheetah mother and her two cubs. East…