Monday, March 23, 2009

This is just not cricket

These series of photos were taken ca 1985 in Botswana. I was with a group staying at a Safari lodge just outside the Chobe National Park.

It was run by a bunch of very prissy South Africans who had thought it amusing to announce on our arrival that the fridge was broken and therefore they could only offer warm beers. I thought this was as funny as someone with kidney failure turning up for dialysis, and being told the machine had been swopped for new iPods for all the staff.

During breakfast we watched as the lodge’s band of mongooses (not mongeese), wandered through looking for scraps. We were told not to feed them as they would become pests and would, just like Trafalgar Squire’s pigeons, be terminated.

I gather mongooses make great pets. However, I would recommend that they are kept out the bedroom. Men would be highly embarrassed turning up at casualty with an excited Mongoose attached just behind the head of their one eyed trouser snake. Or should they go to the vets?

As we were about to climb into the Landcruiser for the ‘tourist go look at the wild animals’ trip, I spotted one of these fellows start frantically digging. The spot was on the front ‘lawn’ which was really a shallow surface of top soil on soft sandy earth. The grass was kept green with constant watering.

The speed of this fellow digging was awesome. He would have made the perfect inmate for any inmate. I started shooting. The furry digger went down almost his body length and then popped up with this.

It was a cricket. Trying to find out exactly what type etc, was extremely difficult. You try and type in Southern African Cricket into Google. Once I found the required information, I discovered some interesting facts.

Now, this hideous thing the mongoose drags out is a Giant African Ground Cricket (Acanthoplus discoidalis). Now there are lots of different looking crickets. The Chinese have little black ones, teach them Kung-Fu and place bets on their favourites in fights. Then there is the one in the film Walli and it’s ort of cute-ish, and then there is most famous one of all – Jiminy Cricket.

But this thing is just disgusting. It must have been almost three inches long. I have seen lions eating a still alive ‘kill’ with no bother, but this! And the sounds that were made as it was crunched up. The legs were still wriggling as mongoose here noshes on a massive fresh breakfast. Taking these pics nearly brought mine up. Yuck. Along with giant locusts, it ranks as one of vilest looking insects. I know that some people consider them a delicacy and full of protein. You put one of those on my plate I will definitely vomit.

Crickets chirp, rather a lot, and very noisily, whilst rubbing their thighs together. Oddly, unlike humans, only the males do it. This fact thus resulted in men uttering the immortal words to their female partner, whom, after several glasses of wine starts babbling incoherently to all and sundry; chirps up – ‘Oh I say, this just isn’t cricket – so shut the fuck-up!’

In the brilliant film Crocodile Dumkopf and the Aussie Cricketers of Doom, a scene takes place where he calculates the temperature by counting a cricket’s chirps. His female companion, some ex-stripper from Poland says

‘Eet iz velly hoot. What hoot you think it eez?’

Crocodile Dumkopf rapidly counts on his fingers and toes each chirp in one minute and adds 40 to the total and announces, ‘78.5 degrees Celsius, Sheila.’

She replies ‘I am Kowlowski with a ‘C’.’ But surly zee cricket would be baked at such hoot?’

Just at that moment the cricket stops chirping and Crocodile Dumkopf grins and announces ‘Dinner is served.’

This business about working out the temperature this way is apparently true.

You can even buy one on Ebay. I think I would rather have my grandmother’s stuffed tits hanging on the wall before one of these things.

This last picture is from the web. If Sir David Attenborough did a film of their sex lives, it would be the most disgusting porn in the animal kingdom.

For camera buffs: I was using a first generation auto-focus Minolta 9000. Expensive kit in those days. The lens would have been either a Sigma or Tokina. My guess a 70-210 mm. Max aperture – about f 5.6. The motor wind would have been a ‘el-cheepo’, two frames a second, emitting as much noise as the crunched cricket. Film would have been my favourite at the time because of its intense colour – Fuji Color (slides) ASA 100.

The slides were scanned recently on a Canon home scanner with a very good psi for the price.

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