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 LINDSAY'S ARCHIVE  

THE FOX AND THE GEESE

 

From The Guardian

Saturday May 7th 1988

The fox and the geese

Jack Trevor Story

IF YOU are going to choose, make it geese. Geese is as close to touching the planet as you can get. You will pay 3.50 for a walking gosling. Here is the secret of husbanding your goose. Do nothing. Put him or her on the ground and get on with your life. About a month later a head will pass by your kitchen window and that will be your goose, now fully grown. Hello, goose. Don't give it a name or you won't be able to eat it.

My wife and I bought four muscovy goslings from a lady who wriggled under a shed to find them, they were so small. "That one is the male," she said. Quite soon you don't have to be told. All the ones that are muddy, everything that moves with a muddy back, is female. Also they look flatter. But that came later, before our first fox. When they were still small we took our geese to the seaside on holiday. There is no need to be tied to backyard livestock if you always put yourself first. Just get the eggs.

I'll give you a few tips, which nobody did for us. My wife left me because I chopped off the wing feathers to stop the gander's escape and blood came out. Never stop them flying. Never stop a bird from flying, no matter how much it costs you. Just wave to it. And there's nothing sadder than seeing a lop‑sided goose in the sky. By some mystical insight, which these things seem to have, this big ugly muscovy drake landed half a mile away in the park warden's back garden and came back sitting on the front passenger seat of his car. I had been all day searching local ponds and put up notices all over town.

That big ugly drake - muscovies are Brazilian geese with bits of red skin hanging down, black and white trimmings ‑ he outlasted all his brides, but fox got them all in the end. First the women, and then after several fights and flights and escapes: "Perhaps he got away ?" little Elaine used to say. I did not tell her that big Eagon, the farm expert, had seen the bones down under the thorn bushes.

With our first flock of geese at the seaside, where they grew up in four weeks, we learned all about them. They squirt everywhere, green liquid that gets into your soles and turns into dry buttons and mouldings. Coming back, our little birds had their great long necks sticking out of the top of cardboard boxes, passing traffic was congealing, kids pointing and crying their excitement. Geese are very good for kids, I tell you that. Kids and geese are part of the planet. If everybody had geese there would be very little child crime. And, you can always get a wife.

Why am I writing this today ? Amy is outside, the sole survivor of 50 birds over eight years. 10 years. Two months ago she began laying her spring quota of big white eggs. You can clean them up and write love letters on them. If you are single. With my help, since you may not have eight years left, you will experience something that God must have felt ‑ all creation laid down on the ground and left.

You will have got used to Saturday cattle‑markets and the bidding. You will meet attractive girls who run smallholdings and advertise guinea fowl, two cocks and a hen, innocent as the earth. For a time you will over‑pet your chuckling nation, spend money on houses and runs and feeders and food. They don't want any of that. Watch your local good old boy. What do you do? Do nothing.

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Copyright   the estate of Jack Trevor Story 2002. Not for reproduction. Copyright in all work by Jack Trevor Story is the property of the author's heirs. Permission for use of this material can be obtained through Jackie Edwards (Story), Peter Story, Lee Story or Michael Moorcock. Reproduction of copyright material whether in text, visual or audio form by unauthorised sources strictly forbidden.