Born Free*

“Hello,” I say answering the parental house phone last night.

“Hello, my lovely,” Seb says.

“My darling,” I say, carrying the phone up to the parental bedroom so can talk to him in private.  The house phone doesn’t work in my bedroom here.

“How are you?” Seb says.

“Oh, OK.  Mustn’t grumble,” I say, sitting on the bed.  “How are you?  Did you make it to the seashore to take your readings and…”

“Yes,” Seb says.  “Yes I did.”

“Excellent,” I say.  “Well done.”  Seb has been down to the seashore several times previously to count limpets for his project but various factors have interfered with his results.

“What have you been doing today?” Seb says.

“Training at the gym,” I say.  “Writing, cuddling my fluffy monster…”

“Yesterday, a graduate from the course came to talk to us,” Seb says.  “She’s a leopard researcher in South Africa and…”

“Wow,” I say.  “What’s she researching?”

“Well they use camera traps and they’re trying to find out how many leopards there are in the area,” Seb says. “And also what effect hunting is having on the population  – they allow hunting there so…”

“I bet it’s having a bad effect,” I say.  “Like with the lions and…”

“Yes,” Seb says.  “And she wanted to know if any of us want to volunteer there or…”

“Ahhhhh you’re so lucky,” I say.  “Are you going to?  Can I come?”

“I don’t think I’m going to,” Seb says.

“Don’t you like leopards?” I say.

“It’s not that,” Seb says.  “Of course I like leopards.  It’s just that it’s very expensive and…oh, she was showing us photos of some of them, and this new male leopard turned up in the area who was twice the size of any of the other males.  All the other males ran away and…”

“He sounds like my sort of person,” I say.

“You would have loved him,” Seb says.

“I wouldn’t be able to go anyway,” I say, feeling sad.  “A leopard bite would make my lymphoedema flare up.”

In my imagination, there’s this whole other life I’d have led if I hadn’t been ill since I was nineteen. It includes working with big cats in the wild.  Would so love to live in the wild with just my Seb and the leopards for company, but there are too many reasons why it’s impossible.

Met a Rolls Royce Silver Spur earlier today.  You can see him in the attached photo.

Happy Saturday everyone!
*1960.  By Joy Adamson.  The story of Elsa the lioness.  A classic and a huge inspiration in my imaginary life.


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