Monday, 28 February 2011

Camels Are The Worst Of The Even-Toed Ungulates

The house move is going well so far. I'm currently working my way through our alcohol stock, on the logic that it's easier to drink it than transport it. I prepared a short Powerpoint presentation for Other Half on this subject but she just rolled her eyes at the title page, flicked the lights back on and passed me the bottle opener. It was another easy victory for the Otternator.

I've been thinking today about how much I hate camels. I don't know why this occurred to me while I was carrying a 32" flatscreen TV up flights of stairs, but that's the way my mind works. They are are evil, vicious beasts and as such, they are punished by being placed high on the Scale of Lame. A camel tried to kill me halfway up a volcano when I was 15. This is a fact.  I shall elaborate - I was on holiday with my best friend and her parents in Lanzarote, and they had decided that we should take a drive to see the scenery and enjoy one of the more touristy attractions - the geysers in Timanfaya National Park . The day was pleasant. The sun was shining but not too brightly, and there was a nice breeze. I was covered in my usual Factor 50 sunblock because even at that age I'd resigned myself to the fact that red-haired, green-eyed people were supposed to remain deathly pale forever and would never get to star in Baywatch.

I'd never ridden anything other than a horse at this point and the thought of getting onto a camel, riding up a volcano and generally pretending to be like Rachel Weisz in The Mummy was overheating my teenage brain with excitement. How little I knew then. I mounted the camel along with the rest of the crowd and off we went in a line, one guide at the head of our column and one guide bringing up the rear. About halfway up the volcano, I began to get properly nervous. (Heights are also on the Scale of Lame, just above wasps, if you're interested - some day I may post an actual list). I tried to breathe deeply, tried to admire the view. The breeze began to change direction. My camel lifted its head, legs slowing their pace, as it sniffed the air. It turned its massive brown head and stared at me, Suddenly, without any warning, it totally fucking freaked out. It gnashed its teeth and tried to bite me. It tried to buck me off. It foamed at the mouth. Now, I don't know if you've ever seen an animal foam, but there's something about this action that instinctively warns you to stay away, that coming near this animal is a really, really bad idea. It seems reasonable to assume, therefore, that the last thing you should ever do with an animal that is in fact currently foaming rather violently and staring at you with mad, rolling eyes,  is ride it.

I was terrified. The path was nothing more than a dirt track, and there was no rail to protect against falls. The camel was staggering drunkenly and we were veering closer to the edge. I became reasonably certain that I was going to die a virgin with a terrible haircut. It all seemed terribly unfair. If there was an afterlife, I was going to have words with someone. I screamed at the guide.

Me: (wailing) Save me! This thing is trying to kill me! HELP! HELP!

Guide: (trying to approach) It doesn't like you!

Me: We didn't even talk on the way up!

Guide: (managing to grab the camel's head) Are you wearing perfume?

Me: I wasn't aware he had a preference.

Guide: They don't like perfume.

Me: That is really the kind of thing you should tell people AT THE BOTTOM OF THE VOLCANO.

They calmed it down eventually although it did spend the rest of the trip eyeing me with a murderous rage. To this day, I have never forgiven that one camel, and I've tarred the rest with the same brush. If that makes me camel-ist, so be it. Let it be known, from the Book of Otternator, verses 126 to 127, that the Otternator spoke from on high, and said yea, listen closely both people and animals, do not try to kill me on a mountain or volcano, or even a small hill, for I shall consider this to be the end of our friendship and also it makes you a dick. Yea.


  1. I never knew that camels didn't like perfume. Now any other readers of this blog will be aware of this, and it could save them from disastrous and potentially fatal camel encounters.

    So your blog is not only hilarious, but it also SAVES LIVES.

  2. I never thought of it like that but you are entirely right! I shall style myself Otternator: Protector Of The Universe and hand out informative leaflets in schools and supermarkets. If I can save even one person from a camel-related death or injury, it will all have been worthwhile :)