Once I clock it, I am doomed. So are the animals I’m watching. Once I see the collective arses of multiple zebra jigging away into the bush, kicking up their heels and making both dust and high pitched winny, and the joker in my pack tickles my visceral sensibility, all I can hear is the voice of Eddie Murphy as Donkey to Shrek the Ogre. That face is on every zebra with all the expressions and those giggleworthy lines; the quick quick trotting, the way a yawn rolls around those fulsome lips showing the rank and file of yellowstone teeth. The inflation of nostrils too big, surely for that face and the attitude, that confident trot of attitude and the ability to bounce back from everything. Of course, this is not how it is for zebra. Being a zebra is a serious business in a game reserve and jigging away is probably more about not being forced to stay for dinner than it is a playful gad across the dry sands.
I see those bobbing birds from The Night Garden, the ones that sing (and bob) as the programme bids us all, and the little children, and Upsy Daisy, the TingleWingles, all those endless noisy children without legs and finally Iggle Piggle whose disappearance over the waves always brings a tear to my eyes, Goodnight. I see them here in Africa, bobbing. Their song is clearly the original but adroitly purloined for the bit part birds in the Night Garden. When I watch seagulls, hear them together, they all say Mine, Mine, Mine. I can never hear those sounds without finding myself looking for Nemo. Is this just me, I wonder, at times when I wonder about the wiring in my brain, or do others see the comedic in nature? Trees can talk, even door knockers, and I can’t stand before one without losing myself in the Labyrinth. The brilliance of the writers of such movies tells much of their research. So many of the characteristics of our well loved Disney, Pixar, and all the others are sentiently based on the real thing, but, when I hear the original, having seen the movie, I am entranced.
When Winnie the Pooh was delivered sporting an American accent, I confess to being a right stick in the mud. Now, I don’t even notice it, being captivated by the Pooh himself, the expressions on his face, his Tao, his wonderfully laid back honeyed life. I suspect there isn’t much of the original bear in his construct and it would be a big mistake to even consider such, were I to encounter a big brown in Canada. However, I am not totally stupid nor am I planning a trip to Canada. Baloo however, is certainly the right shape and size, but, again, not based on the real thing. I’m not going to India either.
A lone giraffe came for water this morning but too soon for me to have filled up the water thingy. I cursed myself, stood, shame-faced as it sniffed both barrels and looked straight at me, neck inclined to one side, as if to say “SERIOUSLY?’ I found myself saying Sorry, and It Won’t Happen Again. It stayed looking at me. There was an essay full of incriminating lines to get through as it locked eyes with me and shimmied its fulsome lips. Then it ambled away without a backward glance. I thought…..now, if I was a writer for the silver screen, I would have made copious notes, caught the attitude, heard the words, written them down and made something marvellous, simply by close observation of the real thing, doing its real thing in Nature. I thought of the long walk to water it would now need to make, ploughing through all those Eddie Murphys on the way.
I suspect that sensible people might tut at my disrespect for animals and their foibles. I might be (have been) corrected and steered politely back to the right page in The World Of Animals in order to remind myself of their true qualities. However, it bothers me not. My joker, who sees a caricature where zoologists see the original, is still part of the pack, no matter how many times she gets left out of the dealings.
And, these animals could well be looking at me in the same way.