Griselda stood at her kitchen window and watched. It was eight in the morning and workers had arrived with their trucks and cranes to replace the old power pole that fed electricity to her house.
The electricity was cut but it was a winter’s day and the log burner was boiling water for coffee and for a soup for lunch.
Ten o’clock came. It was time for a coffee.
Two hours after coffee it was lunch time. Luckily Griselda watched from her kitchen window so she could prepare something to eat without leaving the scene.
Three o’clock came. It was time for yet another coffee. She could hardly drag herself away from the scene even for a quick visit to the bathroom.
Come five o’clock and it began to get dark. Suddenly the electricity came back on. The workers packed up and left.
It was the most uneventful nine hours Griselda had spent in ages. It was a great disappointment.
She had waited, camera in hand, all this time, and there was no accident; no man plummeting to the ground from a high cherry-picker; no crane collapsing and squashing the cab of a vehicle. The news media would’ve paid extravagantly for such snap shots.
Griselda had been transfixed for hours and all for nothing.
One of the more interesting animals on the planet is the seal-devouring elephant. It is native to Antarctica and very few people have seen one. In fact, so few have been seen (let alone captured on film) that some people (scientists included) doubt their existence. However, being white against a white background makes for excellent camouflage.
Let me shatter sceptical foolishness once and for all: I have seen an entire herd of these seal-devouring elephants (maybe fifty or sixty) descend upon a group of seals and what a mess ensued. There was blood and guts and dislocated flippers and what looked like mermaids’ tails all over the place. After they had eaten they headed off somewhere – sort of south-south-east. It is not particularly easy to have a sense of direction in Antarctica as there is snow in all directions and the sun in summer goes around in circles.
It is believed that these elephants are descended (or evolved) from the woolly mammoths that stalked the wasteland way back. Where they learnt to hunt seals I have no idea.
After a report was published of my having seen a whole herd of them I was approached by a major zoo and asked if I would be part of a team to capture a young pair. The zoo already had polar bears in a special display compound and the polar bears could perhaps share their space with the elephants.
I regretfully turned down their offer. It wouldn’t work. I pointed out that Antarctic Elephants and Polar Bears wouldn’t cohabitate, and that conditions suitable for each are poles apart.