time to join the @elaine4queen Admiration Society

The Once and Future Queen

You all know @elaine4queen, right? If you don’t, you should. She’s like the very best thing bout the Tottenham Riviera. She and her dog Poppet are the best hosts in the entire history of hosting.

There was even a statue of a goat in our journey. And, as you well know, you can’t always expect goats.

Elaine and the statue of a goat

What’s so great about Elaine, you ask? Well, she can draw and she can take the train into the city and she can throw Poppet’s ball when we’re playing in the park. I’m making her sound like she’s an imbecile, but she’s not developmentally challenged, at all. In fact, she seems to be above-average in intelligence and she happens to know lots of things. Things that it seems you’d have to read books to learn. Books with really big words.

practising her communication skills

Here’s where Elaine asked a passerby for directions. We were clearly well informed, because the lovely young lady on the right got us safely to our destination. And somehow Elaine was able to refrain from making any offensive jokes of a racial nature. Not our Elaine.

Then we were in Elaine’s friend Lisel’s house, and I was playing the guitar…the photo’s crappe, but that’s just how it is. It’s the only photo we have that proves I was even here in town that day. Here I am playing the guitar in a swirl of coulours:

guitaring while surrounded by 60s design wallpaper in Lisel’s front room

And finally? Here’s documentation that Elaine, Poppet and I were at some point all in the same place.

At the bikeshop/café where Poppet and I played boisterously while Elaine had an appointment

So, there you have it. Out on the Tottenham Riviera and in Hackney we smell different. And differently, as well. More bon vivantery soon enough.

‘Make good choices’

swooping down from the hills and collapsing to the ground

Bavarian goats only distantly related to Tennessee Fainting Goats

After the ‘man who sawed off his own foot’ post, I could probably take the rest of the week off. Until now, I haven’t been one of those ‘blog everyday’ sorts.

Yet sometimes the goings on in the world just keep serving up things that need to be mentioned. What could possibly follow up the excellence that was shy of working?

Well, if there is anything worthy, it’s this. You know I have a soft spot for goats. You do remember that, right? If you do an internet search with ‘you can’t always expect goats‘, the very first search term takes you to this here blog. It’s one of my many claims to fame.

What goat-related goodness do I have for your knowledge seeking pleasure? Well, this has has had my laughing all day, so I hope you find as much pleasure in it as I have. First of all, I have to tell you where I found it.

My local paper is the Süddeutsche Zeitung, and it’s regularly filled with not only excellent news, but curious things going on around Germany and the world. It’s an excellent paper, and the day I look forward to every week is Friday. It’s the day the Magazin comes out in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. They’ve come up with a very inventive name for this weekly magazine. They call it the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin.

I wish linking to it would help, but it’s behind a paywall. If you want to read the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, you either need the print edition or you need to pony up some cold, hard Geld (money). It’s not an exaggeration for me to say that nearly every week I want to talk about something I’ve found in this periodical.

It’s normally such a hassle to recreate whatever it is that I found there that I just give up at the mere thought of it. But this week, try as I might’ve, I just couldn’t keep all this mirth to myself.

The way our unique and curious goats are introduced in the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin is entertaining, so I’ll do my best to translate the better parts. The title of the article?

Doofe Ziege! (Stupid Goats!)

And it gets better (how could it not?). The subheading?

Würden Sie am liebsten manchmal umfallen, weil Ihnen alles zu viel ist? Es gibt ein Tier, das tut es einfach – nicht nur zu seinem Vorteil (‘Would you rather sometimes fall down because it’s all too much for you? There’s an animal that simply does so, and not always to his advantage‘)

Are you nearly as excited as I was when I read the above early this morning? What animal could they possibly be talking about? Well, it’s the Fainting Goat, of course. Sometimes called the Tennessee Fainting Goat. Here’s a YouTube video of a National Geographic story (that’s a reputable source…you can trust that Mike Daisey didn’t make this one up):

Here’s how Wikipedia describes this little marvel of creation:

‘A fainting goat is a breed of domestic goat whose muscles freeze for roughly 10 seconds when the goat is startled. Though painless, this generally results in the animal collapsing on its side. The characteristic is caused by a hereditary genetic disorder called myotonia congenita. When startled, younger goats will stiffen and fall over. Older goats learn to spread their legs or lean against something when startled, and often they continue to run about in an awkward, stiff-legged shuffle.

‘…Fainting goats have many other names, including Myotonic Goats, Tennessee (Meat) Goats, Nervous Goats, Stiff-leg Goats, Wooden-leg Goats, and Tennessee Fainting Goats’

As the original article states, the goat (any goat, not only the Fainting Goat) is one of the finest animals you can possibly have. Without exception. Goats are above-average animals by almost any standards. They eat a hell of a lot of grass or hay or whatever…actually, goats eats everything.

They eat all the grass then they move on and eat whatever else is in there path. It’s a good thing they’re such wonderful animals, because otherwise goat herders would simply loathe these little guys. The opposite is true. There’s no loathing…goat herders love their goats.

Goats can climb, there are less fires when goats are around (they love eating dry, flammable grass) and best of all? One goat provides even more milk than your average cow (once again: my source is the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin…I’m not making any of this stuff up).

But the best part about the goat? His character. Despite the fact that You Can’t Always Expect Goats, when you do have goats, you have personable and sturdy companions. An animal you can rely on.

With one glaring exception. Yes, you guessed it. The infamous Fainting Goat. These guys just don’t handle stress all that well. To be candid, they don’t handle stress at all. At the first sign of it, their little legs freeze up and they fall to the ground. Not the most advantageous response when being hunted by prey, is it?

The very best part of the original article I read was the way they described where this breed of goat came from. As is often the case, it probably wasn’t meant to be quite as comical in the original German, but it had me in stitches. Here’s how it was in the original:

‘Wo die verrückten Ziegen herkommen, das weiß man bis heute nicht so genau. Angeblich tauchten sie im 19. Jahrhundert in Tennessee auf, seitdem werden sie in den USA gezüchtet…’ (Where the mad goats come from is anyone’s guess. Allegedly, they appeared in Tennessee sometime in the Nineteenth Century and have been bred there ever since…)

The way it’s written evokes this scene of a herd of Fainting Goats coming over the horizon, swooping down into the as-yet-not-entirely-settled lowlands of Tennessee.

They cut a striking pose, don’t they?

Until something startles them, and the whole herd collapses to the ground. For a few tense moments, the swooping will have to wait.