Showing posts with label goat Gavroche. Show all posts
Showing posts with label goat Gavroche. Show all posts

Friday, February 13, 2009

Death of Gavroche

My dear billy-goat Gavroche has finally met his death... maybe yesterday, on Darwin Day, but probably a few days earlier. I've just discovered the remainder of his carcass on the snow-covered grass under the walnut trees. Last night, I became aware that something was wrong when my flashlight revealed that Sophia was racing around madly and barking in the vicinity of the donkey hut, on the edge of my property. I'll never know what killed my little friend, but chances are he got kicked in the head or crushed by the donkey Moshé.

Over the years, I had become extremely fond of that smelly little beast, who was truly part of the Gamone landscape. Often, I felt bad about not finding him a female goat, but I didn't want to bring about a situation in which the property would be transformed into the home of a herd of goats. Meanwhile, Gavroche had developed the habit of visiting the feral sheep whenever he was moved by a sexual urge. All in all, I think that Gavroche lived well here at Gamone, where he roamed in liberty across the slopes. But I was aware that, in wandering around constantly with his temperamental and massive mate Moshé, and often jostling the donkey as if they were equals, Gavroche was living dangerously.

Je suis tombé par terre,
C'est la faute à Voltaire,
Le nez dans le ruisseau,
C'est la faute à...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Helping my mate

A few days ago, my billy goat Gavroche got into a terrible brawl with my donkey Moshé. I had to rush down the wet slopes, wearing thongs and a track suit, to separate them before any harm was done.

When I reached the scene of the fight, Gavroche was still screeching, because Moshé seemed to be standing on him. I was quite worried, because I had the impression that Gavroche had trouble getting back up on to his little legs. I followed him around on the slopes for half an hour, and I was relieved to see that he was recovering his spirits slowly but surely. Finally, I tied a rope around him and led him back up to the house, where Moshé would not be able to restart the fight.

I felt terribly sorry that a quiet and independent little fellow like Gavroche could be the innocent target of a powerful giant such as Moshé. While meditating upon the injustice of life on our planet, and no doubt everywhere else in the Cosmos where something like DNA might be found, I rapidly cut up a bowl of red apples for Gavroche. This dish (my goat's favorite food... provided that the bits are cut up small enough to enter his tiny mouth) worked wonders on Gavroche.

Munching apples, Gavroche forgot all about his recent brawl and his trivial injuries, and I too abandoned my pessimistic philosophizing about what the Spaniard Miguel de Unamuno once called the Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida... the title of his major work, The Tragic Sense of Life in English, which marked me greatly when I was a student.

But don't misunderstand me. It's not because a bowl of apples can resuscitate a wounded Gavroche that I look upon our earthly condition as a joyful picnic or a musical comedy with a happy ending. On the contrary. The older I get, the more I sense the dominant presence of cruelty, pain and injustice in the world. But I'm comforted nowadays by the marvelous idea, often expressed by Richard Dawkins, that the world at large is never intentionally cruel, so to say... speaking as if the universe had "intentions". The Cosmos simply doesn't give a damn!

PS News from Spain about the dog Pif. Bob told me, a few days ago, that his daughter Alison and her dog are getting along fine in their new life on a ranch near Malaga. But Alison would like to see her dog put on more weight, and she tries to make him eat a maximum. That news doesn't disturb me greatly, because I've always considered Pif as a naturally lean and lanky dog. He'll probably shoot up suddenly like a massive beanstalk, when Alison is least expecting it. And she'll then have to feed him on prime steak. Bravo, dear dog! I know my Pif...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gamone plants

In my article of 27 September 2007 entitled Façade at Gamone [display], I spoke about the renovation of the façade of Gamone. Before these operations, I had to sacrifice my rose bushes and the wisteria. And during the work, the earth below the façade was polluted with old mortar dust and sand. Today, I'm happy to find that things are getting back to normal once again.

For the moment, I'm not sure I want the wisteria to invade the entire façade, as it used to do.

Up until now, the flowers were protected from my billy-goat Gavroche by wire netting, which I've just removed. I have no idea how the midget animal will react to the challenge of the flower bed. Stupidly, no doubt, as usual. In case I haven't told you already, my dear billy-goat is, as they say in French, a kind of "casseur" (breaker, vandal), who seems to get high by destroying unexpected vegetation that he doesn't even want to eat. For example, Gavroche hates tomato plants. In fact, I shouldn't use the verb "hate", because I don't believe for an instant that Gavroche behaves with any kind of hatred in his heart. He simply doesn't give a damn.

I think of my billy goat in much the same way that Richard Dawkins talks of Nature in River out of Eden: "Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous—indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose." Gavroche is indeed a more-or-less callous nihilist, on a par with the Roman emperor Caligula described by Albert Camus. But there's a bit of Sisyphus in him, too, in the way he trudges constantly up to the top of the slopes above Gamone, only to wander down here again to the house, a day or so later. To be precise, we should no doubt describe Gavroche as an existentialist goat.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Three males, two females

I like this peaceful pastel photo, taken yesterday, of the three Gamone males: Gavroche, Moshé and Mandrin.

The following photo of two females in the snow, Gamone and her mother Sophia, reached me mysteriously this morning by email:

It was accompanied by a complicated graphic explanation informing me that "a friend" had taken this photo on a portable phone and sent it to me. When I examined the phone number of the sender, I found with astonishment that it was... me! True enough, almost two years ago, after acquiring my Nokia portable, I took a photo of the dogs and tried to send it to one of my websites. The procedure was so awkward and uncertain that I was never tempted to take another photo on the portable phone. As I've often said, I'm an addicted computer user, oriented Apple, but I've never been on the same wavelength as portable phones. [In other words, I'm a perfect future customer for the Apple iPhone, as soon as it reaches France.] In any case, for unknown reasons, the photo of the dogs took nearly two years to reach me. No problem. As everybody knows, dogs are timeless. Fortunately, like God, they're eternal.

Talking of eternal dogs, look at this fabulous photo, sent to me yesterday by Christine, of her lovely Gamone lounging in a fireplace:

What warm and peaceful harmony: an ideal image of a hot dog!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Circus act

My billy goat Gavroche roams freely over some ten acres of grassy land, some of which he shares with my two donkeys, Moshé and Mandrin. So he can't really complain about not having enough to eat... as you can see from his roundness. But he still appreciates the freshly-cut grass of my lawn. And, as soon as he sees me coming out of the kitchen, Gavroche is reminded that he should hang around near the door, because he knows from experience that I'm likely to bring him out a dish with a few handfuls of mixed cereals. So, life at Gamone is not too unpleasant for Gavroche.

If Gavroche could talk, he would surely tell you that there's only one annoying problem here at Gamone. The sex life of this terribly horny little beast is rather miserable. I would be delighted to find him a female goat, but there would soon be a host of baby goats roaming over the slopes. So, Gavroche is forced to get his sexual thrills by attempting vainly to seduce one or other of the male donkeys... which is a pretty awkward and frustrating affair.

In fact, when the tiny animal is sexually aroused, he indulges in an amazing act, which you have to see to believe. Normally, it's not the sort of thing one would talk about in refined circles, as it were. But, since even an ex-president of the USA once had to reply publicly to highly clinical questions about his sexual behavior with a staff member [no pun intended], I see no reason why I shouldn't describe the spectacular Gavroche act. Besides he doesn't use a cigar or any other kind of prop. It's a no-strings-attached one-goat performance. To put it bluntly [and Gavroche puts it very bluntly], the little fellow arches his back and turns his head in such a way that he's able to aim his long thin penis directly at his open mouth, at point-blank range... if you see what I mean, without my having to draw a picture. And the clever little bugger generally scores a direct hit, and seems to relish the result. I don't know whether experts in sexology have invented a technical name for this act. Is it possible that Gavroche actually invented it, all on his own? Maybe I should get him patented, or entered into the Guinness Book of Records.

Incidentally, a week or so ago, I made a trivial but surprising linguistic discovery. The English word butcher is a variant of the French word boucher. And, since people eat meat obtained from butchers, I had always imagined that the origin of the words boucher/butcher was the French word bouche, meaning mouth. Well, not at all. These words come from bouc, the French word for buck: the technical term for a billy goat. Apparently, once upon a time (in the Middle Ages, I suppose), the usual meat supplied by butchers came from goats.

Getting back to Gavroche, it could be said that, rather than letting humans eat his meat, he has invented a better way of using it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Smell of violence

When you see the new dog basket without Sophia inside, it looks enormous. But in fact, it's just right.

I'm constantly amazed by the way in which Sophia uses her sense of smell as a source of information about places and events in the outside world. When I take her with me in the car, Sophia lies on the floor in front of the passenger seat. She rarely props herself up high enough to see out through the car windows, and yet she knows constantly the key zones in which we're located. If I drive towards the edge of the Bourne River at Pont-en-Royans, Sophia starts to bark with excitement, because she looks forward to scavenging for bits of food dropped by picknickers. On the other hand, if I park in front of the veterinarian's place, Sophia refuses to get out of the automobile, apparently because she detects the smell of some kind of canine anguish.

At Gamone, the donkeys and the billy goat are usually about a hundred meters up the hill behind the house, and they're often partly hidden by shrubs. So, Sophia and I don't normally have a clear view of them. In spite of this, Sophia knows instantly whenever a mild squabble has erupted between the two donkeys (in the form of a biting match), or when one of the donkeys is fed up with the goat trying vainly to get up its backside, and lets loose with a hefty kick (which Gavroche always succeeds in sidestepping). As soon as Sophia detects any violence of this kind, she starts to bark furiously and looks at me with an expression of alarm, as if she expected me to intervene, to calm down the animals. I can only conclude that she must be capable of detecting what I would call a "smell of violence" that is emitted on such occasions by the donkeys or the goat. Or maybe there's some other explanation...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dwarf tossing

I seem to recall that this kind of game used to be practiced, long ago, in Aussie pubs or clubs... but I might be confusing Australia with Patagonia or Dilbert's Elbonia. This degrading sport still goes on here at Gamone, as this fuzzy photo reveals:

When Moshé uses his powerful jaws and teeth to grab the skin on the spine of the midget goat Gavroche (also known as Sex Machine) and twirl him around in the air like a frisbee (while the second donkey, Mandrin, admires the show), the most amazing thing is that the stubborn buck comes back for more, as if he liked that rough donkey treatment. Maybe, once upon a time, when our human ancestors were young, that kind of gripping and tossing was love play. Still is?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Goat stories

Gavroche is a male pygmy goat. Often, male goats are called bucks or billies, just as female goats are called does or nannies.

In my early days at Gamone, I had a pair of ordinary female goats, named Leah and Rachel. Their speciality was climbing onto the roof at the back of my house, and then scampering over the tiles to explore every corner of the roof. I couldn't keep them in a paddock with the sheep, because they'd learned how to jump fences. (Later, my sheep, too, acquired this art.)

I tied them to stakes, but this method came to a gruesome end when Rachel slipped on the sloping ground (all the ground at Gamone is sloping) and strangled herself. So, I gave Leah to a lady down in the valley who already had a billy goat. That was years ago. Since then, I've heard that Leah became the matriarch of an entire herd of goats.

The Hebrew Bible tells a weird story involving male goats. In Leviticus, Moses was informed by the Lord that the high priest Aaron must obtain two such animals, one of which will be for the Lord whereas the other will be "driven away into the wilderness of Azazel", who could well be some kind of a demon. The gist of this affair is that the second billy goat is supposed to transport all the sins of the Israelites into a remote region. A 16th-century English translator, working on the King James version of the Bible, misunderstood the name of the demon, and thought that "Azazel" was a Hebrew expression meaning "the goat that escapes". Consequently, the expiatory buck of Leviticus came to be known as a scapegoat.

The Bush administration has just sacrificed a worthy scapegoat (often known as a fall guy in modern slang) called Lewis "Scooter" Libby, whose former boss was a certain Dick Cheney. Nobody has ever suggested that Libby himself was responsible for leaking the CIA role of Valerie Plame, wife a State Department official who was saying things that Bush and Cheney didn't wish to hear. But it's Libby who'll be paying the price for this screwup.

The good thing about a scapegoat is that, once he has been packed off into oblivion, everybody back home can carry on living as if the sins transported by the buck never even existed. And nobody would ever dream of wandering out into the wilderness to retrieve the wretched animal from the clutches of the demon Azazel. In fact, if ever I were to get into any kind of really messy situation, I'm sure that certain people would suggest that I call upon the services of Gavroche. Being a midget, though, Gavroche could probably only expiate minor misdeeds. So, there wouldn't be any point in sacrificing my dear innocent friend for a big affair.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Village life

I was spoiled by living for many years in the heart of Paris, in the Marais neighborhood. Among other things, I was incapable, say, of moving to a small village in rural France, where your neighbors are perpetually looking over your shoulder. One of the greatest things about life in a metropolis is anonymity. On the other hand, I welcomed the idea of settling here in the wilderness of Choranche, where my closest neighbors (Madeleine and Dédé) are out of sight. Sure, if I fell off a ladder and broke my neck, it’s likely that nobody would find me for a week or so, by which time there wouldn't be much left to find. But you only die once, whereas you have to live with prying neighbors for years on end.

This morning, exceptionally, I did some shopping in the nearby village of Pont-en-Royans. A spirit of agitation and excitement had invaded the main street, because everybody was aware that the Big Move would be taking place tomorrow. Big Move? Yes, the local grocer would be moving into slightly more spacious premises some fifty yards up the road. Events of that nature are rare in a village such as Pont-en-Royans. It’s like dismantling the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and reassembling it down on the Place de la Concorde. To mark the forthcoming event, I decided to purchase a couple of cans of red beans in the old shop. My casual friend Chantal, too, was doing some last-minute shopping there. In her typical flamboyant style, she threw her arms around me and exclaimed:

William, I haven’t seen you for ages. Where have you been hiding? Would you believe it: I’ve sold my café in St-Marcellin, and I’m now officially retired. I’m looking for a fifth husband, and I must inform you, William, that I’ve put you on the list of possibilities, with high priority.

Great, Chantal, let's call in on the priest,” I muttered, looking for words to express my dubious feelings about marrying this great blonde man-eater. Meanwhile, Chantal turned to the grocer, and asked:

You know William, I suppose? He's one of our most interesting citizens.

Before waiting for the grocer's reaction, I intervened by saying no: the grocer probably didn’t know me at all, because I rarely set foot in the village, since (as I said) I don’t particularly like village life. I’m a solitary being, like my dog, my donkey, my goat...

Of course I know him,” replied the grocer. At that moment I was about to be stunned by a trivial anecdote that demonstrated how you can leave lasting impressions on people without ever realizing it. “Several years ago, William came down from the hills with his midget billy-goat, for the village fair at Pont-en-Royans. He led the goat by a cord, as if it were a dog. And the two of them strolled silently from one end of the street to the other and back. Then they disappeared back up into the hills. I’ll never forget that apparition of William and his goat in the main street of the village, like a couple of Martians.

As for me, I had totally forgotten that, once upon a time, I used to go out walking (before the tourist traffic got too heavy) with my dog, my donkey and (more rarely) my goat.

As far as village life is concerned, another thing that disturbs me is that you often come upon weird people. You know what I mean: village folk. Strange backwoods individuals who wouldn't normally be at large in the relatively refined atmosphere of a civilized metropolis such as Paris. Like a guy walking a goat along the main street of the village...