Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Panda-ring to my whims

I've mentioned before that my mind has a mind of its own and sometimes takes me in the most unexpected directions. My last post is a good exemplar of this: I mentioned that the Lion King was coming to Plymouth and then, at Warp Speed 8, my thoughts took me through a loosely connected string of the Royals, Giant Pandas, the CIA and Newark Airport. How so? Pour yourself the beverage of your choice, settle down in a comfortable chair and I'll explain.

It started with the picture of the Royal Family and, for some completely unfathomable reason, the thought crossed my mind that, as a nation, we are clearly better at breeding royals than breeding Giant Pandas. A great pity really, in my opinion, as Giant Pandas are commonly held to be charming creatures (I have a view on this and that will come later) unlike some of the Royals.

Once I had Pandas on my mind, the name Chi Chi came zooming into consciousness. Chi Chi? For those who don't know, Chi Chi was
Britain's most famous Giant Panda. She arrived at London Zoo in 1958 by default as she was originally destined for an American zoo. But this was the time of the Cold War, Washington had ceased all trade with communist China and so Chi Chi was
refused entry to the United States. As the only Giant Panda in the west she was a star attraction for many years and regularly made the news - particularly when she refused to mate with An An. In July 1972, Chi Chi died and after a modest period of public mourning, she was unceremoniously stuffed and displayed in the Natural History Museum. I know this tale is true because I've seen the less-than-natural montage she has been consigned to for eternity - or until her fur drops out. Whichever comes first. My money would be on the loss of fur as she was looking decidedly moth-eaten when I saw last her.
Right that's the Royals and Pandas dealt with. What about the CIA and Newark Airport? This is where I confess to something I have in common with Chi Chi: I, too, was once refused entry to the USA, probably by the CIA, at Newark Airport, New Jersey. Alas, this is a story for another day but it will be worth (?) waiting for.
And, finally, I mentioned I have a view on the belief that Giant Pandas are charming creatures. Well, I have seen them close up in the zoo at Beijing and came away thinking that they were smelly, charmless brutes. But they obviously have good PR, otherwise how come they've beguiled almost everyone else into thinking the opposite? And talking of smelly, charmless brutes, don't get me started on meerkats.

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