• DAY 356: PAIN IS YOUR FRIEND. GO HIT YOURSELF WITH A HAMMER

    Sep 20 2013
    What a happy pig!!!! Don't let appearances fool you

    What a happy pig!!!!

    Growing up in a well-off white family in London has meant that I’ve led a fairly pain-free life. 

    I’ve benefited from other people dying in wars to protect my right to watch TV in peace, from early pioneers that crashed planes so that I might fly to France on holiday and from bold medical advances that helped retrieve the candle I pushed up my nose as a child. 

    Someone else picked up the poisonous mushroom and tasted it so I wouldn’t have to.  

    In the next blog I’m going to tell you about going undercover into a slaughterhouse. Sometimes it’s important to reconnect with pain. And yet at the same time I can’t think of anything more horrific. There will be no photos and the experience may surprise you.

    I don’t have a lot of pains in my life. Telling a joke at a dinner party that no-one finds funny, perhaps. Stubbing my toe on my eco fridge/freezer. Oh, and  being fairly close to suicide after suffering bouts of vile depression. I almost forgot that one.

    Sometimes I wonder if the latter and the former are related.

    Perhaps the deep grinding pain inside is related to a lack of feeling on the surface. We  get depressed when we close off from pains that otherwise might ….make us live more openly.

    A really happy white middle class family

    A nice white middle class family

    Most of us are desperate to avoid pain.  Understandable.

    And yet pain teaches us that when we are holding a kitchen knife there is a point where the carrot stops and our finger starts. And those people that suffer the surreal illness of not being able to feel pain, far from living in a blissful dream, can die from eating their own tongues or consuming salads made of ladies fingers (and I don’t mean ochra).

    The mass cruelty we are inflicting on animals is largely possible, because, like those that suffer from not being able to suffer, we have become anesthetized to the horror. The anaesthetic in question is a potent mix of marketing, ignorance, distance and really cute photos of cows in green fields. And as we become more liberal – nay, compassionate even – the anaesthetic has to be become more powerful still to prevent a connection occurring between human (i.e consumer) and animal (i.e consumed).

     

    This truck that I saw in Spain is a rare of example of when the marketing anaesthetic wears off. Is it just me or is the mother flapping some scary flesh in her child's face? And why are they SO pale??

    This truck that I saw in Spain is a rare of example of when  meat marketing goes wrong. Is it just me or is the mother taunting the child with a floppy pig’s ear?  And why does the dad look so pale and so PSYCHOTIC?

    Imagine showing a caring liberal mother what is REALLY in the meat she feeds her child. Imagine them serving an eye ball or a penis…or a full tongue.

    We are a society that is eating it’s own tongue.  We are killing so many animals I find it hard to believe it can’t leave some scars on our own flesh that one day we MUST feel.

    But pain not only teaches us how to look after ourselves – where the carrot stops and our fingers start – but also how to look after others. When we feel pain we have a chance to connect to other’s that have felt the same – or worse.

    I’m far more compassionate to those that suffer depression from having stuck my toe (or whole being) in that acidic water. This doesn’t mean that to understand the suffering of pigs in gestation crates we have to place ourselves in a small cage and crap on the floor but it DOES mean that we should pay attention to the small pains in our life and use them as a springboard to action for those that might feel far greater pains.

    The other day I sat in the dentist’s chair and felt the long needle go through my palette . Once it was some way inside me he wiggled the needle a little as if to find a softer patch and then pushed in deeper. For the next 30 minutes he shook my head from side to side trying to get out a wisdom tooth that was so ingrown that his steely pliers were useless. Although I was numb I still felt my mouth being stretched back, my head getting knocked, and the pull of his metal tools. I spent this time trying to think about the pain of the animals that have it so much worse than me and a curious thing happened – my pain all but went away.

    THAT’S BECAUSE YOU WERE ANAESTHETISED MARTIN!

    pain, wonderful pain

    pain, wonderful pain

    Yes, but no. I would have been unconscious if I wasn’t. But something curious was going on.

    Experiencing pain can be a chance to connect. I think that we should pay closer attention to our own pain. And I certainly think we should be more aware of it in animals.  I don’t mean to say you should hit yourself with a hammer but perhaps next time you feel pain use it as a means to get closer to the suffering of those that can’t avoid it so easily.

    Going into a slaughter house, is for me, a little like concentrating on the needle as it pushes into my skin. In a curious way, I need to feel it. And yet at the same time, the more I see of this horror the more I feel a darkness welling up inside me as if my own depression is threatening to rise up again.

    But for now I want to go into the suffering a little deeper.

     

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  • DAY 232: FINAL DAY IN INDIA…NOW HEADING BACK TO HELP THE BADGERS

    May 20 2013
    The wild tokay gecko that was being fattened up for sale on the illegal market that I managed to release into the wild.

    The wild tokay gecko that was being fattened up for sale on the illegal market that I managed to release into the wild.

    Damn.

     

    There’s so much I can’t tell you. 

    I can’t tell you about my trip to the far corner of India, I can’t tell you about trying to smuggle myself illegally over the border into Myanmar, I can’t tell you about the stolen bear that I found, I can’t tell you about the very rare gecko that I released into the deep forest (an endangered specimen no less) and I can’t tell you about getting apprehended by separatists….

    I like to think I’m a wanted international agent…but the truth is that I’ve turned over the location of a trapped wild animal to the authorities who need to carry out a suprise raid. Until that goes ahead nothing can be leaked.

    Needless to say you assume I’m making it up. Which of course I may be. But I have the mascara to prove it.  And furthermore I have a very special watch that I used to get secret photos.

    The watch with hidden camera and the button-camera that was used to uncover the trapped animal...that I can't talk about

    The watch with hidden camera and the button-camera that was used to uncover the trapped animal…that I can’t talk about

    The wonderful family I stayed with in Manipur near the border of Myanmar (Burma) that I can't tell you about.

    The wonderful family I stayed with in Manipur near the border of Myanmar (Burma) that I can’t tell you about.

    JUST IN CASE YOU ARE INTERESTED, INSTRUCTIONS FOR AN INDIAN SECRET CAMERA WATCH:

    ” This product is simple, small and exquisite, beautiful and practical, is home security, education, essential areas of life, utility, well all the customers.

    Enter the default camera, sound recording standby mode, after the boot of any state. Save the file and shutdown :long earthquake the machine twice 

    Changing the date: According to the computer configuration or system differences, identify the time of disk is slightly different, please be patient…best not to Jinxing the camera.”

    The endangered wild tokay Gecko.

    The endangered wild tokay Gecko.

    The road to the border where we got apprehended

    The road to the border where we got apprehended

     

    My taxi driver wants my monkey fruit in the correct order.

    For the last few days I’ve been driving around India with a Sikh taxi driver who has been extremely kind and extremely enthusiatic about being a Sikh. Everyday he tells me about his turban and Sikh traditions , which is very interesting. In return I have been telling him about saving animals which he finds equally interesting. Turban – monkey – beard – dog. Rather weirdly he’s also been telling me about his favourite fruit and putting them in order of preference…and quite often getting it wrong

    ‘Mango is number one fruit!’ he calls out whilst swerving through traffic. Then a few moments later:  ‘No – mistake.  Kiwi is number one!’ I wonder how one can get one’s favourite fruit wrong.

    Finally after three days of driving he asked me if I actually liked monkeys.

    ‘Of course I do. Very much’

    ‘Which is number one? Monkey or dog?’

    ‘They are both number one’

    ‘Will you take some home? Monkeys?’

    ‘It might be hard’

    ‘Just go to parliament. They have many monkeys there’ I laughed at his sly political joke. He didn’t smile.  ‘No really, they will give you eight monkeys. You take them home because no one wants them here’

    ‘But I can’t take them on the plane just like that.’

    ‘You can get money by making them dance. People want photos’

    Oh no, I thought. There’s clearly so much work to do out there. Even this lovely man wants me to make monkeys dance.

    But then he said something else: ‘We love monkeys. They are one of our gods’

    And then I realised: nowhere is man’s kaleidoscopic view of animals more colourful – and confusing – than it is in India. They swerve to avoid cattle in the street and then  happily leave a dog dying in the dust. Hinduism, one of the most prevalent religions in India, is rich with its array of animal gods that demand worship and yet on an everyday level there is so much animal suffering ignored on the street.

    Wildlife SOS are doing great work tackling these complex but vital issues in this wild and colourful land – and at the helm is a charasmatic, unpredictable, energetic and surprising invidual in Kartic.

    Support him and the team here. If and when this animal is released I can fill you in on some more adventures.

     

    Back home to save badgers

    I am returning to the UK to work on the crucial issue of the upcoming badger cull – proposed to start JUNE the 1st.  More info to follow

     

    NEXT BLOG: I DRESS UP AS A BADGER AND DIE ON THE LONDON UNDERGROUND IN PROTEST.

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