Fred The Giraffe

01 August 2014

Deutsch-Ostafrika, Giraffe

[Image: Walther Dobbertin/German Federal Archives, CC via Wikimedia Commons. See here.]

So a guy’s driving along the road and he’s got these two giraffes in the back of the truck. And he passes under a low bridge, and just as he sees the bridge he realises that he hasn’t fucking measured the giraffes. And he completely freezes and cramps up and he doesn’t hit the break and there’s this awful noise like BONK.  He stops the truck and gets out, and he knows that it’s not going to be one of the giraffes, it’s going to be a low-hanging branch and he’s going to feel like an idiot for worrying because hey, even giraffes aren’t that tall, right?

So he gets out of the truck and he goes round to see and that’s when his life comes to an end, emotionally speaking, because he’s wrong. Giraffe jam. One giraffe is standing over the other giraffe looking at this new, weird, flat-sided hairstyle and saying (in Giraffe-ese, which is a bit like mime in Esperanto) “what the fuck is wrong with you, Fred? Get up, man, we’ve got leaves to eat together and tall spindly babies to have!”

But that is no longer on Fred’s list of life options. In fact, that list is now null. Fred is not “dad”, which is what my autocorrect keeps insisting he must be. Fred is dead.

You know what? We live in Giraffe World. That’s the international human condition right there. “Oh, shit, it totally did not occur to me to measure the giraffe!” Well, that’s a shame, isn’t it?

(Funny story: I’m in the butcher yesterday and the guy behind the checkout is giving me a whole thing about the evils of asparagus. Asparagus in the UK is mostly imported, and that from places where people are literally killing one another over asparagus water. Oh, hey, Fred-the-headless-giraffe, you’ve got company! And I’m listening to this whole speech and I’m looking at this guy over the corpses of about ten beef cattle and I’m thinking: BEEF, dude! You want to have a land-use revolution, screw the fucking asparagus! Let’s talk COWS.)

And now an uncontacted tribe has come out of the jungle. (Probably because BEEF.) It’s a little bit amazing that there are still people living in total and probably blissful ignorance of modernity, but my main take-away from the uncontacted tribe story is: they have already caught our diseases. So now we have to go in there and totally remake their world because otherwise our colds will basically kill them – or we can leave them to their understanding and most of them if not all of them will expire. Go, Go, Global Village! So I can’t even think what I was thinking which is: it may be in your interest to melt undetectably back into the trees.

Today is a shit day, news-wise. A lot of them have been recently. The Arab Spring has turned into the Bastard Summer – which is, by the way, a surprise to no one who has studied the history of revolutions – and Israel just bombed another school in Gaza. The UN says that’s a blot on the face of humankind in the 21st Century. It’s not. It’s basically familiarly awful shit. If it’s a blot, our whole face is made of blots. You know what’s really a blot on the face of humankind in the 21st Century? The fact that sixty years on we have not got our collective arse in gear to create peace in the Middle East. Because Israel/Palestine? We did that. We-all-of-us. And we continue to do it by sponsoring the shitty behaviour of monsters on both sides in the name of things that do not matter and high ideals that specifically ask us not to behave like this.

So Fred, right now, means the world to me. Fred is climate, oceans, dead kids in Gaza and dead kids on a school bus in Israel. Fred is Ukraine and Malaysian airliners, Fred is antibiotic resistant MRSA in the rivers near water treatment plants, Fred is misogyny, Fred is blinkered human short-term bullshit wherever it may be. Fred is the computer that says no. Fred is anti-abortion protestors who support the death penalty and won’t pay for child benefits or even contraception. Fred is my government and yours and deniable prisons and the Snooper’s Charter and transparency for the masses and the new distributed totalitarianism. Poor fucking Fred the dead giraffe is not alone. He’s got seven billion humans for company on his road towards the bridge of doom.

Abstractly, I love you all. Collectively, you can be – like me – totally imbecilic. Individually you are people and you’re who you are. We might or might not get along but you’re worth more than this.

I got no answers, people.  I got a dead giraffe with half his face plastered to a low bridge.  Nothing’s gonna fix Fred. You want to take a swing at some of this other stuff?

Then let’s do it.

If you feel the urge: #iamfred


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