Jan 29th


    ‘I’m an idiot,’ I said to the policewoman. She looked at me as if in agreement.

    This post has, I’m afraid,  little to do with wild animals but everything to do with the wildness of us humans – we are the most insane of all the animals in the jungle.

    I’m off again very soon to help more animals  – flights booked and I’ll tell you about it shortly –  but in the meantime I feel myself sinking into the morass of crazy daily life.


    I tell you this to explain why it’s so hard to be compassionate….we are too busy being bonkers.

    Police caution


    I don't often get stopped by the police..

    I don’t often get stopped by the police..

    I rushed off to a dentist’s appt the other day, late as usual, talking on my iPhone to someone about something that was probably inconsequential but felt important, when I saw a police offer on the side of the road (he wore a bright yellow coat but was sort of hiding behind a car which was weird) and immediately he began to speak into his radio. Realising my mistake I dropped my phone into my lap, still live, the voice on the other line now talking directly to my crotch, hoping I wouldn’t be reported but it was too late. A hundred yards up the road they  pulled me over. A policewoman approached me.  I shouted to the phone in my lap  ‘I’m being stopped by the police please hang up’ but he carried on talking. Outside the door the policewoman looked at me screaming to myself. She’d caught a real live one.

    When I got out the officer asked if I knew what I was doing.

    Did she mean was I self-aware?

    ‘I was speaking on the phone whilst driving? Is that it?’ I said, suddenly being overcome with irrational guilt and wondering if I had run over a child or accidentally taken heroin that morning.

    ‘And do you have a reason for speaking on the phone’

    Relieved I said ‘Look, I’m total idiot, I’m stupid,  I shouldn’t have done it.’

    She started to write down verbatim what I had said.

    ‘Do you, er, have to write that down?’

    ‘I’m afraid we do, sir, every word’

    ‘What, even if I say DO YOU HAVE TO WRITE IT DOWN?’

    She wrote it down.

    She then got me to sign my name under the quote where I said I was an idiot. Never before have I had to officially confirm in the name of the law that I am a fool. This exercise wasn’t designed to make me feel small or ashamed, she said, it was designed to protect me. It was a civil right to defend myself and to have my words recognised by the courts. MY NAME IS MARTIN USBORNE AND I AM AN IDIOT.

    ‘They’ll need to amend your licence, sir, to mark up your penalty, please go into a local police station’

    I wondered if the word ‘idiot’ would be printed on my licence. Perhaps my tax status will change to idiot? Maybe I will be liable for benefits or get to vote for all three parties at the next election as special compensation?






    I arrived late at the dentist. I had a chipped front tooth which needed fixing.

    This came about due to unfortunate familiy circumstances. Every year, since the first half of the last century, my large, extended family consisting of  has got together for a few days and gets drunk. The most juvenile of us (normally the 30+ year olds) stay up late and each year play something called ‘mouth olympics’ which, bear with me, involves competing in various mouth-related tasks – like lifting chairs with our teeth, eating lemons with no hands, drinking boiling water in under 60 seconds, smashing raw eggs in oponents mouths with wooden paddles, and this year, unfortunately for my front tooth, filling up a large bucket with pebbles taken from the front drive using only the mouth. I have won the title four times in the last five years. This may not impress you but it does me.

    ‘How did you break your tooth, Martin’

    ‘Eating pebbles…and putting them into a bucket.”


    ‘and I won!’



    Let me out of here...

    Let me out of here…

    I got to the police station with a swollen mouth and waited behind a very old but possbily insane woman who was asking the police officer to come home wiht her to open her suitcase.

    It was troubling. She talked to herself and said things that didn’t make sense. The room was too hot because the heating was stuck. I knew she didn’t really have a suitcase, the police officer knew she didn’t really have a suitcase, the woman in the queue behind me knew she didn’t have a suitace but the old woman knew SHE HAD A SUITCASE. And it needed opening dammit! The suitcase was probably the suitcase of her mind – and no-one wanted to open that – and her name was probably Pandora.

    There was nothing to look at but a poster on the wall describing how to spot a postal bomb:

    ‘scuffed corners, mis-spelt address, torn label, bad smell’.

    I wondered about the delivery that morning  from Amazon that seemed to fit the descritpion exactly.




    Patrick Swayze...sadly not dancing any more

    Patrick Swayze…sadly not dancing any more

    On the way back from the dentist I was overcome with a very unexpected but intense sadness. Perhaps it was the anasthetic but it felt very real. You may laugh,  but I was flooded with grief for the fact that Patrick Swayze had died. 2 years ago!!

    Now, if any of you know this actor from the likes of Dirty Dancing and Ghost, you’ll know that poor Patrick succumbed to cancer quite a while ago. Why did I feel this emotion now I wondered?  There was nothing on the radio to remind me of Patrick, I did not see an advert for a bargain DVD with him on the front dancing dirtily and nor was there a man in tight black trousers walking across the road. And what’s more I NEVER CARED MUCH ABOUT PATRICK SWAYZE!!!

    (Ok, he was a monumental dancer)

    I can only compare this strange occurrence to the  experience of standing in an otherwise cold ocean and suddenly feeling a warm current pass around ones legs. Where on earth did that current come from? Science tells us an elephant may have pissed in a river 2000 miles away or a butterfly flapped it’s wings in Mexico after a chinese grandmother sneezed whilst sitting on a three legged stool. Our heart tells us that cause and effect are often beyond reason.



    The lotus flower of compassion....but why is it buried so deep in the mud??

    The lotus flower of compassion….but why is it buried so deep in the mud??

    What am I on about?

    I tell you this because I think, deep down I’m going through a subtle emotional recallibration on this ‘year to help’. Long lost currents are surfacing and bringing iwth them debris that might otherwise have been shored up on the dark banks of my subconcious.

    In all seriousness now…I’m getting flashes of feelings – sadnesses, grief, and glimmers of joy that I have never felt before. Murmurings. I hear a windscreen wiper squeak and I wince thinking a dog has been hit, I read about that monkey that the Iranians just sent into space and fill with intense anger. (Why? I’d quite like to go to space!) Patrick swayze dying, a fly dying (see previous blog), it is all death and its all meaningful

    And on top of these murmurings we pile a whole load of crap into a daily lives. THESE are the things that stop us behaving better, these are things that stop us acting on our compassion. Deep down lives the lotus that wants to grow, it just needs a hell of a lot of space and attention to reach the light.

    I’m off abroad again soon.

    Previous Post:

    Next Post:


    1. Lovely to read – you write so well, in particular the return of suppressed emotions – the genie escaping the bottle so to speak. Reading of “eating stones” recalls my own recent vet experience with my cat and I’m sure is something the American Dental Association would endorse. I’m looking forward to the unveiling of your next destination.


    2. What a fun read! I love your sense of humour, Martin. Yes, the emotions you are feeling are very real. Yes, suppressed emotions can rear up at any time and there usually is a trigger. Take care.

    3. These stories should be in a book, I really did laugh out loud, especially at ‘Realising my mistake I dropped my phone into my lap, still live, the voice on the other line now talking directly to my crotch’ haha!! And the suitcase lady, so funny, keep writing we need the book!!

    Leave a Reply