Snake Country – Getting to know the neighbours.
I’m beginning to wonder if it wouldn’t be far more fun being a snake rather than a human.
The prospect of living as a snake and having to dodge the occasional spade or half-brick wielded in misdirected anger seems to pale into insignificance when compared to having to dodge some of the mindless verbiage that’s flying around at the moment! Reminder to self: Hide the Bing Crosby Christmas LP and toss out grandpa’s old camouflage cream that the grandkids always play with when they’re here. Sorry, private joke.
The modern trend towards instant communication (gratification?) will ultimately force us to think harder about what we’re about to say (not a bad idea), alternatively, to stop speaking altogether lest we offend someone (stupid idea).
Writers and speakers have to work hard at packaging their subject matter for presentation to a non-specialist audience – please, no offence intended – whilst at the same time keeping it clean and maintaining their interest. Speakers have the advantage in that they at least get live feedback on their presentations – ovations, snoring, exodus etc. – writers on the other hand seldom actually know who is getting their drift, and probably move on in sublime oblivion. Writing about snakes? Because they get pretty constant publicity, mostly for the wrong reasons, and they’re not exactly flavour of the month, unless there’s something unusual going on involving a snake, for general readers, pretty ho-hum. I have a slight advantage, in that I also give talks on snakes, and there are moments where the subject matter is not the attraction.
During one talk, a fairly buxom lady asked me if she could hold the friendly House snake I was using. Obligingly, I handed it to her, and it promptly disappeared down her loosely fitting top. What can I say? Dignity prevailed and I got my snake back.
Shane Warne (remember him?) recently stuck his head into a box full of snakes on a TV reality show (reality?) and an anaconda bit him on the nut, making headlines and highlighting the ‘bad snake’ legend. I could have warned Warney if he’d asked me; if you ever work with snakes, avoid using anacondas – they’re the pits. This incident reminded me of a talk I gave, using a 1.5 metre anaconda to demonstrate how acutely aware snakes are of movement. I’d set the scene, the snake was resting on my left arm – and as I passed my free hand across in front of it to illustrate my point that most snakes will follow with the head – it struck out and grabbed my passing hand, presumably assuming it to be supper. Hard act to follow! – audience screaming and heading for the exits – pretty sensational I must say, but difficult to get the decorum back.
As I was saying, in the speaking and writing business, we need audience feedback. I certainly get my fair share.
© pat mckrill. 2016