Whilst Jim might rightly be described as such there is a second; the animal kingdom. No not in that way you dirty minded person! But imagining my life without interactions with animals is difficult.
So it recent things I've picked up on at work really disturb me. Kelly, an Australian, was talking about her recent riding trip to Wales when one of my colleagues mentioned she'd never been on a farm. I was taken aback. Never been on a farm? It had never crossed my mind that someone would not have visited a farm.
Now you might think that coming from Kent I'm some sort of abnormal country boy. But trust me I'm not. I was brought up in Snodland and Folkestone, which are fairly average towns as it goes. Although I admit that I had a best friend who lived on a farm, the reason I was shocked was that a trip to a farm was one of the first school outings my school every did. It was treated as one of the "basics". You learn to add. You learn to write. You visit a farm and learn that animals smell. It's all delightful.
So I was shocked by that but discovered she wasn't alone, and some even suggested that the idea of "touching" animals repelled them. I thought that sounded like something you'd want treated like a fear of balloons or an annoying twitch.
I know, I'm being incredibly judgmental and wrongly projecting my world views on to others. But I sorta feel sorry for these people.
So I said I wasn't a country bumpkin but I have spent a lot of time in contact with animals. First the domesticated ones; the pets of my life:
11 cats (Misty, Garfield, Marmalade, Bonnie & Clyde, Crystal, Millie, Angel, Herlock, Scooby, Tinkerbell)
4 dogs (Max, Shane, Geisha, Molly)
1 American bullfrog called Pocket Money (sadly banned in this country)
Uncountable amount of fish both goldfish, pond fish and tropical.
6 or 7 rabbits (Shudder... BOB!)
A guinea pig
2 tortoises (Thomas I and Thomas II both of whom were found wild and returned (i.e. they wandered off) to the wild in and around Snodland)
5 hamsters (Honey & Spice, Chekov and a couple more)
Then the wild ones. We used to take Shane and Geisha for walks in down The Pit in Snodland every day and it was one of the most amazing places for wildlife I've ever been to. Adders, smooth snakes, grass snakes, slow worms, sand lizards, common lizards, newts a plenty and frogs of every colour (some of rather worrying colours). Nothing quite like seeing a pike staring up out of the water at you from underneath an overhanging tree. You'd think twice about getting into the water after that, trust me! Seeing the dark shapes of unusually big fish (carp but could of been whales the way they looked!) from up on the edges of the pit looking down. Poaching goose eggs (yummy when scrambled!). Hunting rabbits. Fishing on the Medway. Hunting lugworms in Dymchurch so we could go fish off the sea wall at high tide. Even just walking to work from Lympne and seeing foxes, rabbits, pheasants and... sheep. Horse riding. Horse jumping.
And then the exotic:
Being mere centimetres from the face of a rather pissed off silverback at Port Lympne, riding an elephant in Thailand, watching porpoises swim along side Bill's yacht in Spain as we went for a cruise or stroking a tiger in Kanchanaburi.
What would my life really be like without those experiences? Amazingly dull. Terrifyingly dull. And whilst I don't think everyone SHOULD have those experiences I really wish they did.
I'm sure they can say I'm missing out on things they do that they love. But at least I'd probably not be repelled by it.
This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist