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Murgatroyd and Diana were having breakfast in the spacious kitchen.

Radio 4 was blaring out, so Diana turned it down.  There was an

announcement about the Edinburgh panda’s possible miscarriage.  It was

getting past its date, by all accounts.

Och, said Mrs Connolly, turning an oatmealed kipper in the frying pan,

the poor wee soul.  No’ like that other creature wi’ the dark circles under

his eyes, who thinks he represents all the endangered species.

You don’t mean…? queried Murgatroyd.

I do indeed, Mr Syylk I will personally hold him responsible for any

political miscarriage.  There’s been a lot in the press aboot ‘faking it’

and he’s an expert.

Do you mean phantom pregnancies? Diana asked.

Aye.  There’s one o’ yon Edinburgh wildlife charities that believes this

whole thing is a misguided attempt to improve protection for the wild

population in its native habitat.  It says it is time to leave the species

in peace.

Hmm, said Diana, crunching some toast.  I find artificial insemination

distasteful, especially at breakfast.

Ah cannae help it, countered Mrs Connolly.  There’s a definite parallel

here. We share the same mountainous landscape with areas of

torrential rain and dense mist, not to speak of heavy cloud cover.

They have strong jaw muscles for crushing the opposition.  As someone

said:’ Many people find these chunky, lumbering animals to be cute, but

[they] can be as dangerous as any other’..politician- eh, I mean bear.

Oh, I get it, laughed Diana.  I used to have a subscription to ‘The National

Geographic’ and there was an article which said much of what they process

passes as waste.  Maybe if the oil runs out, they could look into converting

panda effluvia into biofuel.

They are very territorial, added Murgatroyd.  However, the cubs usually

have their eyes opened after fifty days, or so.

Aye, well we don’t have that long to hope that the youngsters’ scales will

drap aff their een, affirmed Mrs C.  She flipped the kipper expertly onto a

warmed plate.

The species tend to be restricted to small, isolated populations, which will

always pose a risk of extinction.  They also choose to feed the strongest

and ignore those who cannot crawl, let alone stand.  Murgatroyd was really

entering into the spirit of it all.

Ach, that’ll be the drink, Mrs C shook her head.  It’s no’ all aboot food banks.

And inbreeding, surely? added Diana.  Etymologically their name means ‘parti-

coloured’, but some of them seem tarred with the same brush.

Mrs C giggled.  Weel, as the great man himself has said, ‘There are more

pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs.’

Diana thought for a moment and then said, Let’s hope that the vote is

negative. It does seem unfair that Scots elsewhere in the United Kingdom

cannot express their wishes in The Referendum.  Like Tian Tian, they feel

that they have had no choice in the matter.

It’s like the panda pregnancy, as I say, Mrs Fotheringay Foreign bodies can

provide a false positive.  Positive results are meant to follow successful

devolution.  I mean ovulation, but who knows?

And hopes may be dashed, even in a full term pregnancy, Diana reminded her.

Well, Alistair Darling knows all aboot Labour, Mrs C quipped.  And where has it

got him?

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Oh, he’s quite good at panda diplomacy, Murgatroyd said, in fairness.  Tuan

Tuan and Yuan Yuan means ‘re-unification’!  Just thought I’d throw that in.

Maybe we should do an exchange then? Diana posed the question.

Ach, they’re a’ the same, opined Mrs C as she wiped the chopping board.

They a’ look docile enough but they can a’ be aggressive.  One o’ yon

conservationist chappies- Chris Packham?- argued that conservin’ them is

possibly the biggest waste o’ money. Pandas and politicians.  Baith.  Even

if they are croodpullers.  Anyhow, the current yin has a window of opportunity

tae produce something, or maybe he will jist reabsorb the barely formed

foetus o’ his notional Plan B.  And she decisively rubbed her hands on

her pinnie.

Ah, fur wan, know how Ah’m votin’.

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