Day 22

5.01: What the hell’s got into bullocks lately? First Dimbleby floored by a beast from his own herd, and now Tom Cruise inconvenienced in Cadiz, with seven bulls charging through the set of his latest film – apparently on their way to the beach.

(In fact, neither Tom Cruise nor co-star Cameron Diaz was even faintly inconvenienced by the holiday-making bovines: neither was even in the same city; neither even was in the same country. But two women were “slightly injured,” which will doubtless give rise to a Name-and-Shame campaign in the local red tops, featuring mugshots of bullocks skulking desultorily about public monuments).

And while we’re on animal news, how did I miss this story over the weekend? Breeders have been accused of creating “bizarre mutant cats.” Apparently, in this weird Chernobyl of cat stylists, some of “the animals’ tears do not drain away properly and cause breathing difficulties.”

Is there anything more gratuitously evil than suffocating your cat with its own tears? It’s the sort of thing I imagine Walt Disney getting up to in between torturing Communists and luring children into his gingerbread dungeon.

7.02: “Huge Ocean found on Mars,” The Mirror tells us. “A network of rivers once flowed from the planet’s southern highlands into a massive sea.” This is exciting and makes my 5am noodlings at the keyboard seem tiny and insignificant. But what strikes me is how different newspapers are now from 1957, when Sputnik was launched and the Daily Express ran Keats’ sonnet ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ on its cover (really; its cover):

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

I used to know someone who told me that reading that poem on the front of the paper made him decide in 1957 to go and study English literature. Sadly, in spite of winning a scholarship to the college of FR Leavis, circumstance intervened. A girl became pregnant, and he didn’t resume his studies for another four decades. Which was when I met him. I wrote a poem about him once; maybe I’ll drag it out and dust if off sometime. I might write one about the sea on Mars, but the Mirror’s lead today, “A Space Oddysea,” is somehow less motivating.

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~ by David Thorley on November 24, 2009.

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