Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday, 3 September 2012

A question of perspective

To Clacton again this week - or rather, St Osyth, famed in meteorological circles as the driest place on the UK mainland - and the panic sparked by a Maine Coon cat.

I've been away and I missed the original story (picking it up via Ambush Predator today) but, as I understand it, a large domestic cat strolling around in a nearby field of stubble was mistaken by the occupants of a caravan park for a distant lion prowling through long grass.

Well, it makes a change from the usual August bank holiday stories from that area; it was a post a couple of years ago (on the man who doused a spider with a can of aerosol, then flicked his lighter to see if it was dead) which led to the question 'What is it with Darwin Awards and bank holidays?' and thence to the following:
 So far, a cursory research has yielded an ill-advised dive from the pier and a festival-goer who tried to kayak from Clacton to Glastonbury (!), so my next question is,
What is it with the Darwin Awards and Clacton?
Now, I know this story isn't exactly Darwin Award territory, though the Mail's coverage does offer a couple of delightful quotes from eye-witnesses: "It was one million per cent a lion" and - my favourite - "It was ambling laconically along by the lake in the field, like it didn't have a care in the world".

It does, however, along with Julia's follow-up story, demonstrate admirably just how unreliable eye-witness accounts can be.

Meanwhile, our old friend the Gazette, cheated of dramatic 'ESCAPED LIONS' headlines by the unmasking of Teddy the cat, consoles itself with a two-page special on St Osyth's bid for national fame and the following poll:


Do you believe a lion is on the prowl in St Osyth?
Yes - it could have escaped from somewhere:  Blue bar used for ballot results 16%
No - it's probably a false alarm:  Yellow bar used for ballot results 55%
Don't know - but I'm not taking any chances!:  Purple bar used for ballot results 28%
Thanks for voting - this ballot is now closed


  1. My favourite quote from the Essex Lion affair was the eyewitness who claimed it was the size of 'three Great Danes'!

    He neglected to say if this was standing side-by-side, or balanced on top of one another...

  2. Think the Yeti might be the next sighting.

  3. Thanks, Julia - I missed that gem!

    JH, I'm not so sure; have you ever visited Clacton?

    Given the frequency of violent incidents there and the fact that drivers along the A12 are treated to signs advertising a local shop selling clothing in sizes XL - XXXXL, I'm inclined to think that a brace of Yetis could probably stroll along the sea-front and not attract a second glance.

  4. XXXXL

    Bloody hell - I'm giving that place a wide berth!