LONDON -- Actor Richard Gere declared in a letter published in today's London Times that he had spied the first gerbil of spring while standing in his hotel room overlooking Hyde Park.
"My little bird Atticus disappeared last December, pursued by my gerbil, Ying-Yang" the actor wrote.
"Atticus reappeared this morning, flew out from under my shirt tail, and dashed himself against the window, much to my horror. Ying-Yang, the first gerbil of spring, followed and broke his neck as well. Like many people of Tibet, they died seeking Freedom."
Gere was in London to promote his new film, Deng Beatle, a fantasy in which former Chinese leader Deng (pronounced "dung") Xiaoping displaces Ringo Starr as the Beatles' drummer. Gere plays the title character.
A Chinese embassy spokesman pointed out that it is mid-winter, not Spring. Naked Paris Hilton observed that gerbils originated in Mongolia and suffer from Ups Syndrone, a compulsion to crawl into mamalian orifices.