Interesting Top Ten Lists

Top Ten Animals that have caused me to Experience Fear, Shame and/or Discomfort

In Animals, Top Ten on January 4, 2012 at 9:08 am

10. Lapwing

Two birds making cursory lunges in my general vicinity. I was aware that they were just trying to distract me from the location of their nest (which I wasn’t very near to) and that they are one of nature’s bottlers.

Fear 1/10. Shame 0/10. Discomfort 1/10. Total 2/30.

9. Lesser Black-backed Gull

Having been reliably informed that holding a broken piece of cane above my head was enough to distract them, I walked into a field of nesting gulls. Needless to say, the cane did piss all and within seconds I was surrounded by beady-eyed swooping bastards with no thought beyond bringing the ruckus to me and my crappy bit of stick. I legged it before they could do any damage. Hateful creatures.

Fear 7/10. Shame 0/10. Discomfort 3/10. Total 10/30

8. Pheasant

I was halfway over a stile when I noticed a family of pheasant on the other side: a mother and four young. At first I thought I would wait until they moved on, I didn’t want to startle the chicks. But it became clear that the mother had no intention of shifting and was, instead, eyeing me up for a good scratching. Deep down I knew I could punch her beak off if it came to a fight, but her unnatural confidence got the better of me, and eventually I turned round and went back the way I came.

Fear 4/10. Shame 7/10. Discomfort 0/10. Total 11/30

7. Deer

I never saw the deer. It was one side of a fence and I was the other. It made a weird, primeval grunt. The noise connected with some primitive part of my brain and suddenly there were two voices in my head; the thought process that I think of as ‘me’ and an older, much older, fearful thing that was thinking backawaynowbackawayowbackawaynow. Despite knowing that I didn’t really need to move, I started to back away.

Fear 9/10. Shame 1/10. Discomfort 2/10. Total 12/30

6. Slug

Taking the rubbish out to the wheelie bin in the dark, I put my thumb through a massive slug. The gloop stuck to my skin. I tried to wipe the gloop away. It wouldn’t move. I had to scrub it off with a non-stick scourer.

Fear 0/10. Shame 3/10. Discomfort 10/10. Total 13/30

5. One of those Cows with Massive Horns (like off the toffees; the hairy ones; highland cattle?)

Highland cattle are supposed to be very gentle but they have horns long enough to kebab you as if you were cheap meat from Aldi. There were some in a field I had no choice but to cross. I skulked along the edge of the barbed wire fence that marked the boundary of the field. The cows, unmoving and unmoved, ate grass and gazed at me sadly, as if I were some sort of tit, which of course, I am.

Fear 6/10. Shame 5/10. Discomfort 3/10. Total 14/30

4. Woodcock

A woodcock is a woodland bird whose most ‘interesting’ feature is that they have eyes on the side of their head, giving them an almost 360° view of the world. This did not stop one from landing at my feet and then, upon eventually noticing me, right royally spazzing out for a good twenty seconds before flying off. I was a tad unnerved, but mostly I was just embarrassed that if it had jammed its long beak through my eye and killed me, my last thoughts would have been “yes, close up it is amazing quite how unlike a snipe’s their markings really are.”

Fear 5/10. Shame 10/10. Discomfort 0/10. Total 15/30

3. Peregrine

I was in the Northern Quarter (by The Millstone, if you need a reference) when a Peregrine Falcon flew from the roof of the pub, landed at my feet, skittered around a bit like a broken spinning top, flew onto a bin, flew directly for my head, flew back to the bin, and then fucked off again. An occasion not too unlike the one with the woodcock, but with an added ‘not the face’ element, and the different shame of being looked down on by passing hipsters, NONE OF WHOM seemed to acknowledge the presence of Britain’s largest falcon in their Belgian beer and moustache paradise.

Fear 7/10. Shame 7/10. Discomfort 2/10. Total 16/30

2. Unknown Creature

I was alone, on a path through a forest in Shropshire, when the sun dulled, a chill breeze passed through me, and something, very nearby, growled, very deeply. I got a horrible, horrible sensation of being watched, no, of being stalked. Fear overtook me. Two words popped into my head. Big was the first word. Cat was the second word. They were then joined by more words, this time in the voice of BBC News reader Nicholas Witchell, who was saying “The badly mauled body of a walker was found today, in the…”

It was probably a boar or something like that. Not actually a lion. I didn’t hang around long enough to find out.

Fear 10/10. Shame 2/10. Discomfort 6/10. Total 18/30

1. Robin

They look cute on Christmas cards don’t they? You wait until one goes for your throat. I was attacked by a robin last January. I wasn’t even wearing a red jumper. The little bastard came from nowhere, and bounced off me like a perfectly thrown bun. For a few seconds it flapped around me squealing and hissing.

That robin, wherever it is, is the smallest thing that has ever made me shit-it big time. I panicked like a schoolboy at his first sight of real boob. I waved my arms around like a fly on its back. I thanked the Lord I had gone to the toilet before I left the house. I haven’t walked that way to work in twelve months.

Fucking robins.

Fear 10/10. Shame 10/10. Discomfort 10/10. Total 30/30.

By Benjamin Judge

Benjamin Judge is writing a novel about sex, death, and renewable energy sources. His short stories have appeared in various places. His blog, Who the Fudge is Benjamin Judge?, won Best Writing on a Blog at the Manchester Blog Awards. He likes cheeses, especially the blue ones.

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  1. Excellent work. Nothing like being chased by an animal that you’re 10 times the size of to put you in your place. I’ve been chased by Herring gull’s when running down the promenade in Fleetwood many times when their chicks are on the ground. Also chased by swans and Canada geese many times by ponds, canals and reservoirs.

  2. […] has a large family of healthy, brilliant brain children. Write him a Top Ten, or go and read my Top Ten Animals that have caused me to Experience Fear, Shame and/or Discomfort, or both. Yeah. Do both. Great stuff. […]

  3. […] I have started a new blog. It’s called Top Ten of Interest. You can write a top ten about more or less anything you like, and send it through to me for inclusion on the website. So far there has been one Top Ten featured, by the fantastic Ben Judge, it’s about animals. You can read it here. […]

  4. If you think nesting gulls are bad, try straying through land populated by nesting Arctic terns. They’re small, but terrifyingly purposeful and shrill in their relentless dives at your head and their mob mentality is akin to that of this summer’s city centre looters.

    My own moment of animal-related fear/shame/discomfort occurred when I picked up what I thought to be a dead grass-snake from a cycle path along the Thames (between Reading and Sonning, if that matters). It turned out not to be dead, and spewed or excreted (I confused about which end it came from) some sort of khaki matter all over my hands and my jeans, which had an incredibly pungent and gag-provoking odour. To give you an idea of what it smelled like, I later discovered that the snakes do this as a defence mechanism to make predators believe they are decaying and inedible. Plus, the smell doesn’t wash off. I had to scrub my hands with diluted bleach, and after boil-washing my jeans twice, spraying them with odour-neutralising air-fresheners and hanging them in the garden for a week, I eventually had to give in and throw them away.

    I was once headbutted by a giraffe, which floored me, but it was an accident on the giraffe’s part and I wasn’t that bothered.

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