Written by Erskin Quint
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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

image for Thought For The Day, With E L Wisty How Jeremy Clarkson came about: the Ancient Egyptians were driven to invent powdered milk by the cat.

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's Jeremy Clarkson. Another thing I can't stand is the cat. Yes, the cat that sits on my window sill every evening and looks at me. I can feel its green eyes burning into my soul, while I'm heating the milk. Into my very soul, they burn, while the skin forms on the milk and it begins to rise dangerously high up the sides of the milk pan.

Bastit, that was the name of the feline goddess of Ancient Egypt, from whom we derive the modern term for unwished-for catly presences, "bastard".

Perhaps that was why the Ancient Egyptians invented powdered milk. Like me, they would have grown tired of being distracted from the milk pan by the jewelled orbs of their cat god. Of course, it was asses' milk in those days, they hadn't mastered the husbandry of cattle, a fact sadly corroborated by no less an authority than the Bible with its story of Pharoah's dreams of fat and lean kine. As any farmer worth his salt will tell you, you can't afford to rely on dreams when it comes to the harsh realities of agriculture. So, asses it was.

Indeed, we read in H F Streedbogle's An Illustrated History of Cattle Husbandry that it was not the Egyptians, but the Ostrogoths, who first bred the woolly cattle which were the precursor to our Jersey cow. It was cold, where the Ostrogoths were, so they made the wool of these cattle into jerseys. Not until the warmer climes of the modern era, did man find the leisure to drink the milk of these docile beasts.

For me, Queen Cleopatra's allure begins to wane, now that I know she was wont to fill her bath with the powdered milk of the common donkey.

Which brings me back to Jeremy Clarkson. "What is the connection?" I hear you ask. "Do you dare to compare Jeremy Clarkson, the popular journalist, TV personality and professional bully, to the common donkey?"

To such a question, I can only reply: is the donkey a bully? So that is not it. And, before you ask, no, I do not believe that Jeremy Clarkson is one who bathes in the milk of the ass, whether it is powdered, or poured forth by the milky gallon from out of richly-decorated imperial churns, as must have been the case had Queen Cleopatra been able to indulge in the non-powdered variety - which of course she could not, having to labour - as they all did - beneath the yoke of the ubiquitous Bastit with its baleful glare.

Labouring, they were, for generations, under the horrid influence of a ubiquitous Bastit. A ubiquitous Bastit who was literally everywhere, spoiling the milk and forcing even a legendary beauty, to bathe in the powdered variety.

She would have been better off going to live with the Ostrogoths. It would have been too cold to worry about bathing, and she might have acquired a number of very nice ethnic jerseys into the bargain.

And that is what I think, when I see Jeremy Clarkson, whether I see him on the television, shouting terrible things about motor cars, or whether I see his awful face in a bookshop window.

"I would be better off among the Ostrogoths", I am moved to think. "I would be able to get a nice jersey, and I should be free of the baleful glare of this ubiquitous Bastit, staring at me, spoiling the milk."

After all, with the Ostrogoths, milk is very low in their list of priorities.

But then, as I leaf through the TV listings, I sigh. It is a sigh of resignation, that I sigh. After all, I ponder, even the Ostrogoths will not be immune to the scourge of the Dave Channel these days.

It is at these times that the spectre of the three heaped teaspoonfuls of the powdered milky drink - into which I pour hot, not boiling, water from my kettle, watched from my window sill by the cat, and harangued from the television set by Jeremy Clarkson - begins to hover about me, to rise above me like the very Sword of Damocles, suspended only by the merest hair of an asses' tail.

I really think it is one of the tragic consequences of the march of civilisation, the way a man can be separated from his milk pan by forces such as these. I am thinking of starting a revolutionary movement, if anyone else feels the same way.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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