The very funny comedian Arnold Brown ("I'm Jewish and I'm Scottish. Two minorities for the price of one" boomboom!) has a new act at the heart of which is an appreciation of sheep. At Brighton's Komedia last week he had us in stitches (well a Welsh friend anyway) as he embarrassed the audience into agreeing that sheep were, um, rather attractive in their own sweet way. As the discourse reaches its climax, Arnold describes a train journey which passes field after field of said flocks, each one more attractive than the other, exciting Arnold a little.
"In fact" he says, rising to the occasion,"They were asking for it." Cue hysterical laughter (from Welsh associate)
But he's wrong.They're not only not attractive, they're stupid too, and since I've spent the last few days edging my way through hordes of the wooly bastards I'm entitled to think that.
The single track roads connecting places like Achiltibuie, Achnahaird, Altan Dubh and Reiff (you'll have to Google to locate) are difficult enough to manouvre - one of them's not called the "mad wee road" for nothing - as delivery vans roar through, tourists misunderstand that passing places are not picnic spots, and the route itself twists and turns like the proverbial corkscrew, defying any attempt to reach third gear. In addition, the driver's eye is constantly distracted with eagles (actually, they're never eagles, they're always buzzards) and a mountain range that owes more to Monument Valley than the Grampians, Stac Polly especially.
So trying to deal with sheep playing chicken is just too much. Chicken?
As you approach from the rear (phnaar phnaar) there will be mother on one side and offspring on the other, eyes darting hither and thither in panic. They have plenty of time to make their escape. But they don't. Generally the offspring will make a break - across your path no less - at the last possible moment shouting the sheep equivalent of 'mummy mummy there's a car coming' as if mummy, who's now running in front of you cares about anything except saving her own scrawny neck.
Well woolly jumpers, you'd better wise up, because you're dealing with the SHEEP KILLER (dramatic, scary music) and I'm still on the loose!
A very long time ago (the statute of limitations is well up on this one) I was making a journey very familiar to me along a single track road, in a Range Rover doing 90 miles per hour. It was a clear day, the road was long, straight and uninterrupted. I was on a small island racing to catch the morning ferry.
In slow motion, I saw a sheep emerge from underneath a little bridge, twisting itself onto the road, not seeing me, and despite jamming on the anchors I hit it full force, killing it instantly and forcing me off the road. I was lucky not to have, oh, died.
I went back to examine the remains and like some perverse Damien Hirst installation, the sheep was neatly laid out in three small piles, all in a straight line along the middle of the road. The wooly coat, the torso, and the intestines in a quivering pile, steaming, bloody, but neat. The poor thing must have just exploded when I hit it.
I scanned the road, the surrounding bogland, and the distant horizons, hilltops and escarpments. There was no-one around, so I scooped the three piles off the road and into the small stream under the bridge, thus saving myself £90 in sheep killing fees.
Job done. Got away with it. Sorted.
The island has one pub and when I arrived back that evening, was greeted by shouts and torments on entry. "Murderer! Rustler! Sheep killer!" Nothing is secret in such small communities, particularly when the shepherd with 20/20 vision is on a mountaintop three miles away watching you murder one of his flock.