Saturday, 18 March 2017

Great Bastards

According to the BBC, Great Bustards are "on the point" of becoming self sustainable in the UK for the first time in 185 years.
"The world's heaviest flying bird was hunted to extinction in the country, with the last bustard shot in 1832. Over the past 13 years, a population of about 50 birds has been established from chicks brought in from Russia and Spain. It is hoped that by 2019 the number of "release birds" will have reached 100."

At first I mis-read "Bustards" for "Bastards", an understandable mistake in the circumstances; I had been glancing over the headlines about George Osborne's six jobs including the editorship of the London Evening Standard.

If the published salary estimates are accurate, David Cameron's former "Iron Chancellor" can be expected to clock up about £1.86m over 12 months. That's quite a stack of chips for Mr Austerity although nowhere near the pre-tax pay of footballers Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba.

Three or four years ago Rooney and his agent persuaded Manchester United to agree a five-anad-a-half contract reportedly worth £350,000 a week, more than £80m for the duration.

Pogba, sold by Alex Ferguson for £1.5m to Juventus, was brought back to Old Trafford by Jose Mourinho for a reported £89m which surely makes the Frenchman the most expensive haircut ever to leave Italy.

Mourinho is very protective of the giraffe-like midfielder who has only shown flashes of ability in the matches he has played for United: against Chelsea in the FA Cup he was utterly outplayed by the smaller but more energetic N'golo Kante. The manager declared that people were jealous of Pogba's salary and so had it in for him.

My annual income is a single shred of orange in a jar of marmalade in comparison with what Osborne, Rooney and Pogba can spread on their toast every morning. But am I jealous of them? Not a jot. I don't live in their world, so you cannot judge like with like.

The only expectation I have is that they should be worth the dosh; for the money they are on they should be able to make a positive difference.

Lest that sound Gradgrindingly grudging, let me conclude this inconsequential post with a bit more of the BBC's news about Great Bustards (which reminds me of William Boot, the hapless bird-fancier-cum war correspondent in Evelyn Waugh's novel Scoop).

"An adult great bustard can be up to a metre (3ft) tall and weigh up to 44lb (20kg). Its wingspan can reach nearly eight feet (2.4m).The bustard's size made it an easy target for hunters, leading to its extinction."


Anonymous said...

Big birds and little birds. I have known about the introduction of Great Bustards to the West of England for some time. Hopefully they will flourish. But size is not the best sign of greatness in these matters. David Swallow was not a bird but a man. Small in stature but full of loud comments. Not always wise but nevertheless memorable. Did you go to his High Church funeral in Otley?

jim greenhalf said...

I did not. I was told 'the old school' would be in attendance and as I dislike class re-unions I did not go. Instead I said a private prayer for his soul on a high point of Baildon - higher than the tower of St John's - that snowy morning.