Imagine you are flying through the air; it’s something you do more or less constantly, but despite that it never gets boring. You’re a small bird with big dreams, and today you might well be feeling ‘blissful’. The tragic fact about how you feel, of course, is that you don’t really know how you feel, because your brain is much too small to afford you the luxury of such knowledge. What a shame. But what does that matter when you’re flying through the—
Something stops you and pain rushes through your wings, your beak, those small things you use to grip onto twigs with. You sqwuark, and you try and escape but it’s hopeless, and the more you wriggle the more trapped you feel. Somehow the air has become a kind of trap, and now you’ve really done it…you’ve wriggled so much that your head has got strangled and there is pressure all around it! Your wings aren’t doing much better either. Basically you’re a mess! Your poor little feet are stuck and mangled with a kind of black stuff, too. If birds knew swear words, right now you’d be saying “I’m fucked! I’m done for!” Instead, you are just struck with the frustration of being still when you could be hurtling through the air. That in itself is more than a bit of a bummer.
This was the horrific scenario thrust upon me when I turned over to ITV yesterday and found myself watching Wild Britain with the infamous outdoors-man known as Ray Mears. “The netting is designed to hold the bird firmly in place and doesn’t harm them at all,” said the remarkably un-feminine looking woman who was the warden of this nature reserve where all these horrendous traps were placed. “Sort of like a hammock, then,” said Ray, actually believing this utter nonsense. Yes Ray, if a nice relaxing afternoon in a hammock is spent after being fired from a cannon into it, where for hours afterwards you are forced to spend your time wriggling and writhing, convinced that as this feels pretty awful, probably only much worse things are to come…(the only good thing about being completely ignorant about your fate, of course, is that you don’t know how bad it might get).
But enough about the allegedly painless bird traps which Ray and nature reserve wardens all over the UK thoroughly endorse – people do much worse things I suppose, and just one of John Barrowman’s 360 degree spins on Tonight The Night is much more sinister. Really, I’m just jealous, very jealous, of Ray’s highly developed ability to enjoy the simple things in life. So will you be by the end of this blog post.
For example, another part of the programme featured Ray wandering through English rivers. How much was he loving this? Words cannot describe, but for the sake of cutting this short right here, right now, what the hell, I’m going to try. Probably the best way to demonstrate just how much pleasure Ray got from marauding through the river – in his tall wellies, quietly destroying thousands of years worth of marine life while paradoxically explaining how the rivers were under threat from the terrible world we live in – is to say how he went about creeping up on fish for the sake of pure enjoyment. That’s right, creeping up on fish. Why would anyone creep up on a fish, I hear you cry? Well, apparently fish are very good at keeping a look out through the clear water, just in case a predator approaches. When that predator is a six-foot-tall, slightly overweight nature enthusiast, I’m fairly sure that even the dimmest brown trout can detect that, so what Ray does is get down on his front and wriggle his way to the water’s edge. Following that he lies there smiling like a goon for a very, very long time — probably while his wife sobs at home, wondering if she will ever be made love to with the same kind of passion that her husband shows for limpets and toads.
And that’s what I mean by jealous: most people need to spend money to enjoy themselves, or at least spend time in the company of like-minded, alcohol swilling humans. But not Ray — alcohol can go to hell as far as Ray is concerned! Give him a small river, some wellies and the potential lure of some cherished memories and that’s enough for him.
Thinking about Ray Mears, and how long he’s been doing his thing on TV, how old is Ray, actually? Seriously, I only ever seem to see him on all the second-rate channels, where he looks about 35 — and has done for the last ten years — so I suppose it’s fair to assume he could be in his 60s by now and instead spends his time drinking the nights away in some fish-themed Las Vegas strip bar. What a terrible thought. Think I’d much rather imagine him smiling like a goon by the river bank instead.