- 19 Nov 18
An American TV host has become an online hate figure after slaughtering sheep and goats in the wild. But there’s scarcely been a peep about the fate of the Limavady pigs…
Did you hear about the woman who was pictured with a rifle rakishly slung across her shoulder and the beasts she’d bagged laid out all around? “A glamorous, blonde American TV host, rifle-toting Larysa Switlyk, poses proudly beside the bodies of the sheep and goats she has killed on a remote British island,” declared the caption in The Daily Mail.
Sheep and goats, eh? Savage brutes drooling blood, apt to infiltrate lowing herds winding softly o’er the lea and claw them limb from limb. (Bet you didn’t known there’s a fad for US hunters who cannot afford the fares to Africa opting for cut-price small-game killing sprees on Highland and Island estates owned by Scottish lairds or English thieves.)
Naturally, Ms. Switlyk in her turn has been ripped to bits on Twitter and every other platform available. Many have regretted that some huge and hungry carnivore didn’t get to her first. I tend to agree with this view. Then again, what about the Limavady piglets?
In recent months, I have spent a bit of time with Vincent Lusby, a farmer from Bellarena who is heading up a campaign opposing a proposed mega pig-farm in the vicinity. From a couple of people in Vincent’s front room a few months back, the campaign attracted a couple of hundred to a gathering last month. It was agreed that, if necessary, direct action will be the next item on the agenda.
The planned Limavady “farm” will produce 80,000 piglets a year. They will spend their lives in stalls which barely give them space to turn around. Thousands of tonnes of slurry will be squelched out and spread across adjacent lands every year.
Most of the feed will come from Brazil. Most of the meat will go to China. The environmental impact of this globe-encircling enterprise is likely to be dire.
The Chinese market – apparently, they consume astounding quantities of pork over there – was opened up to the North following a visit to Beijing by Arlene Foster towards the tail-end of 2016. It had been planned that Martin McGuinness would go with her. But Martin was struck down by the illness which was to prove fatal a few months later.
Arlene soldiered on alone and brought the bacon home for the big-wigs of the agribusiness sector. That is, the fellas who had already trousered so much free dosh from Arlene’s RHI “cash for ash” scheme that they are moseying off into a golden sunset even now.
So, if you are feeling anger at Ms. Switlyk’s annihilation of fluffy sheep and beardy goats, consider the fate of the piglets of Limavady and draw a few conclusions.
But back to Ms. Switlyk and the Curse of Tutankhamun.
The horrible fate that befell a succession of pith-helmeted, tomb-wrecking “Egyptists” has been become the stuff of legend and cautionary tales.
Rudyard Kipling told the story of a chap who had not only prised the tomb of the Pharaoh open, but had unwound the parchment bandages in which the mummified cadaver was swathed. Big mistake.
Couple of weeks later, the tomb-raider had travelled further south and was stalking the plains in hopes of bagging himself a big one. He aimed at a herd of elephants and shot one in the trunk. An even bigger, and this time fatal mistake.
Elephants don’t take kindly to family members being maimed by blood-thirsty blow-ins. The whole herd charged. Kipling recorded the result: “He was dealt with after the manner of elephants till he was blackcurrant jam.”
Did you ever spend a gig lying on your back on a yoga mat with your head on a bean-bag, bathed in the light of the moon?
This was the ambience which enfolded us as we arrived in the Guildhall on the last night of Derry’s Halloween – a seven-metre diameter moon, suspended from the ceiling, shedding brightness from within, its surface reproducing to scale the seas and basins and pock-mark craters of the lunar wonderland.
I’d never been to a gig where most of the audience was lying flat on its back. (Peter Doherty at the Nerve Centre doesn’t count.) In the centre of the hall at a stand-alone mixing desk Stephen McCauley wasn’t playing, “By the light of the silvery moon / I want to spoon / To my honey I’ll croon love’s tune…” Mostly, he played music I’d never heard but recognised well enough. Sparse, ambient, soft, played loud enough to shudder the floor even as it eased the mind.
This particular moon was an artwork by Luke Jerram, stopped off at Derry on its orbit of the earth, soon to be seen in multiple manifestations and meanings in Germany, Taiwan, Holland, Finland, Australia, and all phases in between.
I stood and gazed and remembered Joxer and Captain Boyle. “I assed meself the question – what is the stars, what is the stars? An’ then I’d have another look, an’ I’d ass meself, What is the moon, what is the moon?”
The whole word outside was in a terrible state of chassis. But, inside the Guildhall, recumbent on the floor in the afterglow of day, peace shimmied down upon us.
(I didn’t actually lie down on the floor myself to gaze up upon the magical orb. Not because I was wary of immersing myself in the unspooky spirit of the evening but because I couldn’t be certain of being able to get up again. I put this down to ethereal overload.)