Friday, February 7, 2014

THE DONKEY DERBY


Sad little Kippax, before he ate FineDope (c)

This is the story of a little donkey. The donkey’s name was Kippax and it lived on a farm with a herd of other donkeys. Kippax would spend its days wandering around behind the other donkeys, minding its own business, eating grass and producing medium-to-large amounts of methane, like little donkeys are wont to do. Kippax’s flatulence was never a real issue, but, you know, there was always plenty of hot air. As Kippax grew up, it became a fully fledged member of the herd, neighing and cavorting, even occasionally gamboling, with the others. The donkeys would race to the far gate to see who would be first to get his head in the trough when cruel Farmer Hardaker put the hay and fodder out for them. Sometimes Kippax would win the race and get to the hay first, but often it was beaten to it by bigger stronger donkeys. Kippax did not mind this because it felt natural and normal. In fact it became known as the natural order of things amongst the donkeys.



One day the farm was sold to a new farmer, called Farmer Murdoch. He quickly began sprucing the place up, painting the stables and straightening the pigs’ tails. Farmer Murdoch didn’t much care for ambling donkeys. He was keen to see something a little more dynamic, something that might attract visitors to his farm or investment in his outbuildings, so he encouraged the bigger donkeys to be greedy and to take all the hay for themselves. He put obstacles in the way of the other donkeys, so that they wouldn’t win any of the races. As the bigger donkeys began to win the daily races to the hay troughs, they got even bigger and stronger, some of them expanding to the girth of a medium sized Conservative politician. The same magnificent donkeys would be taken to the annual agricultural fair, where they would win sundry prizes and gain great fame and fortune. Some would then go on take part in the Grand Donkey Derby an event that took place abroad, where they would often make fools of themselves, but occasionally come back with a rosette and a big bag of feed as a special prize. Even when they lost the Donkey Derby, they would always be well fed, making them stonger than ever for the race across the field when they got back home.



The other donkeys stayed at the farm. Some, like Pompey and Shaggy Bates, became lame and were put down, whilst others hobbled on in their own haphazard way. Kippax grew thin and pale, wandered the field’s very perimetre and produced stools of an unusual colour and terrifically vile odour. He never won the race across the field, finding the ground cut up by the magnificent hooves of the quicker donkeys. At one point his groom, Master Pollock, very nearly killed him altogether when he left a rake on the floor and it twatted him full on the hooter.



Highland Fergus, Âne + José Burro enjoying the high life
Children who visited never chose to ride on Kippax, as he smelled off and looked awful. On more than one occasion the Farmer thought about calling in the vet to administrate, but something always stopped him. Meantime, the other donkeys that had grown fat and strong from winning all the races, amongst them Fergus the irritable highland donkey, Âne the French ass and José Burro, a noisy braying Portuguese Wild Ass, wore fine coats of thick lustrous fur and had pretty ribbons and garlands festooned around them. Visitors came from far and wide to watch these magnificent creatures whilst nobody took any notice of Kippax and the other bedraggled specimens at the back of the herd.



Then one day, somebody did take a look at the other members of the group. A man in a strange outfit arrived with a big bucket of ultra quick donkey feed, called FineDope (c), apparently manufactured in a laboratory in Abu Dhabi, as he saw this was the only way to build up the poor wretched Kippax quickly enough to be able to enter the Donkey Derby always won by the big powerful animals. Fergus and Âne and José Burro got very angry at this and pushed and nuzzled their way to see what was happening. When they saw one of the bedraggled specimens was growing strong like them, they began to bleat and neigh to such an extent that nobody got any sleep for weeks. José Burro made a whining sound like an animal being lowered into a mincer, despite the fact that he had often eaten FineDope (c) himself in the past. The noise became so great that police arrived from foreign fields, amongst them a Very Special Constable called Michel.



Michel had strict ideas about how laws work and thought it unfair that the big fat dominant donkeys, who he thought had grown strong by their own careful ways, should now be challenged by one of the dirty ones with matted fur. He told the farmer that he would not allow any donkey that had been given FineDope (c) to show at the fair. “Eet ees unfair for zees lurvly durnkyes to ‘ave thees durty wurns stand in zer way. Zees wurns must nurt enter to ze Donkey Derby. Eet ees only for nice donkeys wiz good fur.” he said and spoke to all the donkeys warning them not to eat odd food given to them by strange foreigners wearing frocks, even if they were starving hungry. “But we are dying of hunger,” said one of the other donkeys, Old Villa, and was soon joined by Fat Ash (who was in fact as thin as a hose pipe by now) and Toffee. “If we don’t eat, we will surely die. It was the same for Kippax and now he’s a big strong boy.” they neighed.



Fat Ash wearing thin
Bu the special constable had other ideas and aimed his gun at Kippax. “If zees one comes to zee Donkey derby after eating FineDope (c) ze end will be sweeft” he shouted. But Kippax had already buried the sacks with FineDope written on them and was now strong enough to run with the others to get to the hay. He could run as fast, if not faster, than the three big donkeys and did not need anymore FineDope (c). But when he ran for food the next day and, getting to the hay first, began to tuck in, Special Constable Michel rose from behind the wall. “Zees,” he said, holding up a sack of FineDope, “just zees!”. But when he opened it, he found only normal hay, the same hay that all the other strong donkeys had been devouring over the years. The big donkeys were dismayed and even some of the starving donkeys, being animals with limited intelligence, felt sad too. When they saw Highland Fergus and José Burro unhappy, they automatically felt unhappy too, although they weren’t entirely sure why. That’s donkeys for you.



By this time Kippax was a strong and succesful donkey, easily winning the races across the field and beating Fergus and José Burro to the continental shows, where he preened and posed alongside donkeys from neighbouring fields, like Klippety Klopp and Frank Ribery. One day Special Constable Michel looked down at his feet and found that Kippax had delivered a rather large steamy dollop to his shiny policeman’s boots. It was a kind of metaphor, but none of the donkeys understood because they were all as thick as pig shit.

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