And? The polar bear and the rowing boat
Sun, 05 Apr 2020
‘Entertaining and genial, the polar bear is vocal and delightful. They have become very popular pets because of their docile temperaments, tendency not to bite or scratch when handled, relatively clean habits and sociability. They are gentle, engaging animals and enjoy daily interaction’ read Drake.
George chanced a glance at the huge, tremulous, panting mound inexpertly covered by a tarpaulin at the far end of their rowing boat.
‘You are absolutely sure that the book you are reading is about polar bears and not, for example bunny rabbits?’ Asked George.
Drake continued to read.
‘This book is most definitely about polar bears and not bunny rabbits. A boar (adult male) bunny rabbit weighs around 350–700 kg. Bunny rabbits are the largest land carnivores currently in existence. Warning: Bunny rabbits are aggressive, curious, and extremely dangerous to humans. A bunny rabbit should never be approached and if one is spotted, it is best to retreat slowly on foot, preferably into a castle with a moat and a catapult that can fire flaming cannon balls or a vehicle with armour plating and a twirly gun turret.
'Polar bears by contrast are herbivores’ Drake read,
‘Their ideal diet will include:
· Salad peppers.
· tomatoes (the fruit but not the leaves)
As Drake hurriedly scanned down the page to the footnotes, the Polar bear shape gutturally growl-snarled and its muscles rippled angrily in very non-herbivorous manner.
*Why does Mr Polar bear, this genial bundle of fluffy hugs, possess the ability to run up to 35mph and pick up the scent of blood through 3ft of solid ice, some have asked? Why is he so keen on all this smelling and chasing if all he wants to do is give Mr Sailor and Mr Seal a nice little cuddle when he catches them? What should one do, for example if one finds oneself sitting in a rowing boat in the middle of the Artic Ocean with a polar bear who despite having been heavily sedated, appeared to be showing signs of being a little bit not asleep? **
Drake and George's gaze shifted to the ropes which were very much not holding the tarpaulin in place. Drake continued to read.
** Polar bears who have been sedated, for example, using a combination of chocolate chip cannabis cake, a bottle of sleeping pills you found down the back of your deceased aunt’s settee, Calpol and cherry brandy....’ Drake noted that George’s face was no longer visible between his fingers .... ‘ have been known to be Mr Grumpy trousers when woken.‘ ***
The polar bear emitted a low guttural growl which could be neatly filed away in the ‘last sounds you heard before you were disembowelled’draw of the ‘very worst ways to die’ filing cabinet. George continued to read although the words were becoming rather blurred on account of the amount his hands were shaking.
***Whilst there may be many practical reasons which make it difficult to avoid a grumpy, recently sedated polar bear that you are sharing a rowing boat with in the middle of the Arctic Ocean I would strongly suggest that this is exactly what you do, prior to him noticing you are there. Think about it this way - Kate Winslet survived for two days bobbing about in the North Atlantic Ocean on a bedroom door dressed in a ball gown in Titanic and she had just been hit by an iceberg. Even if you don’t have a bedroom door how bad could going for a bit of a cold swim be? As bad as Mr Grumpy polar bear opening your tummy up and eating your kebabs? I don’t think so.’
The tarpaulin slipped off the side of the boat and into the frozen inky depths. The polar bear snorted groggily, sneezed and yawned. It looked at George, then Drake then back to George as one might examine plates of Kung Pao chicken and Peking duck in an all you can eat Chinese restaurant in Tooting Beck High Street before deciding which one to eat first. Its stomach rumbled loudly and it licked its lips. Neither Drake nor George were experts in animal behaviour but this did not feel like a positive development.
Drake tentatively placed the tip on his right index finger into the Arctic Ocean and pulled it out after less than 5 seconds. It was violently cold in a way that he had never previously experienced and could not vocalise. He hurriedly flicked through the pages of the book to a chapter that had been folded over by the previous reader. The title of the chapter was;-
‘If I don’t have a bedroom door to sit on like Kate Winslet did and I am about to be eaten by a polar bear or a bunny rabbit and my only alternative is jumping into the Arctic Ocean how long would I survive?’ He read.
‘Now I don’t want you to think of me as a Percy the pessimist. The good news is, you are still alive, the bad news and there really is a lot of bad news in this chapter, is that, you probably won’t be alive for very much longer. Just a quick checklist so that we can consider your options…’
The polar bear began to rock from side to side, as did the boat, as did its other occupants.
‘Q What are the warning signs that a polar bear which has recently awakened from a drug induced sleep in your rowing boat is about to attack you?
A Can the polar bear see, smell or hear you? If yes it is about to attack you.
Q So what are my options?
A Do you have one of these in your rowing boat (i) a harpoon gun (ii) one of those phasers like they had on Star Trek (iii) another boat that can go really fast (iv) a submarine?(v) another polar bear but this one is bigger and is your friend and doesn’t mind a bit of rufty tufty.(vi) a friend who looks tastier than you.
A No? Have you looked properly – you know what you’re like?
A Okay then its option (vi) I am afraid
Q You haven’t mentioned option (vi) before.
A I was hoping I wouldn’t have to.
Q What is it then?
A Well you are going to have to go for a little swim. The good news is that you might die of cold shock instantly which will stop your heart.
Q If that is the good news then what is the bad news?
A The bad news that as you are gradually suffering from cold incapacitation and resultant drowning this process might take up to an hour. But you needn’t worry about that because the polar bear will still be chasing you and he is even quicker in the water than he is on dry land.
The polar bear was moving towards Drake and George. It was making a combination of sounds – hissing, champing its teeth, growling, lip smacking and throaty rumblings. In seconds it was close enough for them to smell it’s rancid breath. They edged backwards until they were sitting on the side of the boat. There was only one page left in the book. It was covered in what might have been strawberry jam.
Q Mr Polar bear is approaching me making a combination of sounds – hissing, champing its teeth, growling, lip smacking and throaty rumblings. Is this a bad sign?
QQ Are you a female polar bear?
AAA Oh dear
George slipped his hand into Drake’s and as a pair of jaws clamped down into the space that they had filled a few moments before, they fell backwards into the brutally cold, still waters.