Review 2007: Home

Jacque Baptiste on Sables d’Olonne

I live now in a small town called Sables d’Olonne, after spending some years in Paris and in the UK as part of furthering my life adventures as well as my educational studies. I have done many exciting things and met many amazing people along the way. As you will recall, the towering pinnacle of my life thus far was the time I parachuted from La Tour Eiffel - but this was covered in an end of year "blog" not too many years ago!

There were, of course, other memorable encounters for me as well - the fracas involving myself and Bob Carolgees while working in a Parisian patisserie, and most remarkably, the time I was mistaken for your fellow Englishman Darius Danesh and was mobbed on a London tube station platform by many a lady, young and old. Clothes were torn, and charges eventually dropped, but as we as we say here in France, that is a story "pour une autre fois"!

Disregarding these incidents in my past - why me I always ask myself ?! - what happened this year on my very doorstep is just as memorable, if not once again, un "touche bizarre" !

It was a sunny morning in mid-June. The sun had just begun to shine through my bedroom curtains, and I awoke looking forward to an entire week of vacation. I lay in bed thinking to myself what productive things I could spend my week doing, when all of a sudden I heard an almighty crashing noise coming from what seemed to be my back garden ! I jumped out of my bed, my eyes still closed, I pulled back the curtains, to see for certain, what I thought had happened in my back garden. To my astonishment I opened my eyes to see something I did not expect to see - a wild beast eating its way through my marrow and courgette vegetable plot! There now was a huge hole in my back passage fence! "Sacre Blue" I exclaimed. My astonishment turning now to rage - I was an irate man! How dare this creature be munching his way through my prize winning marrow!

Not thinking, I ran downstairs and out of the house to confront the beast. I was not thinking ! As soon as I entered my garden, the beast raised its head and had spotted me. I suddenly realised I was making as we say in France, a "faux pas" ! I looked at the beast, the beast looked at me and began to make a loud grunting type of noises - the beast, not me of course ! I realised that returning to the safety of my house was now looking to be a sensible move. I turned and ran back in before the beast could charge me. I picked up my cellular phone and dialled the emergency services, I explained my predicament to the police, and they said they had just received reports of a missing Gnu from the local wildlife park! Good grief, a Gnu in my back garden! I now realised leaving the garden had been a good idea.

Anyway, a few minutes later the authorities arrived and my garden looked like something out of some mad Hollywood film. There were men with nets, others with cages, and even a man with what I presumed was some kind of gun to tranquilise the beast should anything get out of hand. I decided to watch from my bedroom window so as not to get involved with anything dangerous. The man with the gun took aim at the beast, as two other men approached with a large net. The beast could obviously sense trouble, and as the man with the gun took aim the beast made a run for it, straight past the men with the net. There was a lot of confusion and what seemed to have happened was that the tranquilliser dart had not struck the beast, but had in fact shot one of the men holding the net! He was holding his "derriere" and blaspheming loudly. Meanwhile the beast had bolted and crashed through another part of my back passage fence, on to the fields behind my house. The authorities pursued it, leaving my garden looking like a right mess. There were half eaten, half trampled vegetables everywhere, muddy footprints all over my grass, as well as an unconscious man being tended to by the paramedics. At least the beast was now gone and I could take stock for a moment.

Eventually I managed to repair the damage the beast had made, and the paramedics had revived the poor man who had been accidentally tranquilised. We shared a well deserved coffee together and tried to take in just what had happened in the whirlwind of the last thirty minutes.

I received a phone call later that afternoon to inform me that they had eventually managed to catch the escaped Gnu. Whilst perusing it for over two hours, the beast eventually came a cropper whilst cavorting across a dual carriageway and was hit by an ice cream truck. Luckily the beast was only stunned - probably not as much as the ice cream truck driver I imagine!

Since then, I have visited the beast in his natural habitat, safely enclosed in the Gnu pen at the local wildlife park. I think he remembered me when our eyes met, and I could sense a feeling of mutual respect between us. As I walked on by to the next enclose - The Tigers - I thought to myself, I guess there are a lot more dangerous animals that could have escaped than a Gnu!

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