Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Attack Chimps On Fire Off The Shoulder Of Orion

The Constellation Orion is visible in Australia, except that what we see is the reverse of the northern hemisphere view. The shoulders are at the bottom and Orion's legs are at the top. I'm not going to pretend to understand how this is possible, but it was while I was calmly observing this phenomenon the other night from our roof when I was suddenly set upon by what appeared to be a large lemur-like monkey. My fear of chimps and monkeys is well known to readers of this blog, perhaps generated by stories like this or this or the fact that an angry chimp once threw excrement at me at Regents Park Zoo. Apparently our roof is the domain of tree dwellers and this particular one didn't like the fact that I was on his turf. He appeared from nowhere and ran at me, screeching. I too screamed and tried to scramble back to the step ladder but that's when he sprung his trap. Another lemur-like thing was waiting by the top rung of the ladder. Cornered and panicking I had no option but to jump. I landed in the garden twisting my ankle to the evident delight of the creatures, who gyrated triumphantly for a hubristic five minutes. Of course they weren't monkeys at all but (I think) large wild possums. I had a brick handy but in Australia possums are protected by law and you can't harm a hair of their not so little heads. (In New Zealand, funnily enough, there's a bounty on the buggers.) As I lay there clutching my ankle watching them dance I thought of Livy's commentary on the Battle of Cannae - round 1 of this war may have gone to you possums but vincere scis, Hannibal; victoria uti nescis, and then as I struggled to my feet I thought, hey this could be a blog post with a pretty decent pun in the title.