10 years ago today Michele and I got married. This is quite a shocking realisation but really quite a pleasant one.
No diamonds, cars, holidays in the Caribbean for us though; we went to London Zoo and then to a really rather good Korean restaurant in Soho.
London Zoo gets better every time I visit it. Not just because I notice more stuff there either, but because it actually gets better. As a couple of born-again bird nuts it was perfect! Parrots galore, birds of prey, owls, vultures, penguins, flamingos, pelicans and…herons. In fact the herons weren’t invited but came anyway. Loads of them. We’re used to seeing starlings and sparrows in abundance but really, the Herons were everywhere. Now, Michele and I love herons, especially their stealthy hunting techniques but today we were reminded about the real nature of nature. Around the pelican area is a little moat, in which was a mother duck with her beautiful new born babies, another bunch of uninvited interlopers. Like a bunch of tragic losers we ran up to the edge in order to coo over the little fluffsters. A member of the occupying force of herons was also in the enclosure and our excitement seemed to induce a similar feeling within him, and he came over to have a look. He came, he saw, he deftly plucked up a perfectly formed baby duck in his considerable bill and sat back to enjoy his meal. All observers were shocked and we exchanged amazed glances while Michele went to sit down and try not to be sick.
Mrs duck was obviously not happy and gave the heron a serious set of pecks and attacks but, being a heron, he wasn’t too bothered. No, all he was worried about was trying to stop his lunch escaping. Despite her best efforts, Mrs duck failed to redeem her baby and reluctantly went back to the moat where her surviving children were all huddled together in a fluffy, frightened, ball.
Me and the other rubberneckers were trying, pathetically, to persuade the Heron to drop his pathetic, beautiful, wiggling catch. But he didn’t, maybe he didn’t speak English. He ate it. Whole.
Michele was on the bench, head in hands, feeling faint.
This wasn’t part of the Zoo experience but to me it was very valuable. Loving birds is all very well, but you need to harden if you’re going to remain sane. Nature is violent and as full of tragedy as it is joy.
Later on we watched an astounding display of birds-of-prey and applauded enthusiastically, despite the fact the birds were being encouraged to perform their amazing feats with the promise of mouse-nuggets (as yet unavailable at KFC…officially). What a couple of hypocrites eh ?
After the Zoo, we went, via a pint in the John Snow and a visit to a record shop in Soho, to Ran.
Ran is the first Korean restaurant I’ve ever been to and it knocked me over. Ever since my first visit I’ve wanted to return and to take Michele. The return visit was just as good. Each table has an in-built gas barbecue on which we cooked beautifully marinated beef and scallops. We also had ribbon beef sashimi, which is raw beef with pears and a raw egg on top…ok we may get tapeworms and food poisoning but by cack it was worth it.
In all it was a wonderful day. But the sad thing is that I know we can only do it now because we have money. How the fuck people are supposed to visit the zoo with a family when it costs 16 quid a go is a mystery to me. It always reminds me of Keep the aspidistra flying where he becomes so annoyed with money’s influence on any experience in life that he gives up everything.
As Max Miller said,
“Whether you’re rich or whether you’re poor,
it’s good to be rich.”