My role, and one for which I was entirely qualified, was to be an extremely ignorant non-zoologist to whom everything that happened would come as a complete surprise.
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The system of life on this planet is so astoundingly complex that it was a long time before man even realised that it was a system at all and that it wasn’t something that was just there.
I think I prefer fish, said Gaynor.
Kiri explained that she was wrong and that she preferred chicken to fish. Westerners, he explained, preferred chicken. It was well known. Fish was only cheap food for peasants. We would be eating chicken, which was sexy and which we preferred.
We talked about how easy it was to make the mistake of anthropomorphising animals, and projecting our own feelings and perceptions on to them, where they were inappropriate and didn’t fit. We simply had no idea what it was like being an extremely large lizard, and neither for that matter did the lizard, because it was not self-conscious about being an extremely large lizard, it just got on with the business of being one. To react with revulsion to its behaviour was to make the mistake of applying criteria that are only appropriate to the business of being human.
“So what do we do if we get bitten by something deadly then?” I asked.
He blinked at me as if I were stupid. “Well, what do you think you do?” he said. “You die of course. That’s what deadly means.”
“But what about cutting open the wound and sucking out the poison?” I asked.
“Rather you than me,” he said, “I wouldn’t want a mouth full of poison.”
I didn’t notice I was being set upon by a pickpocket, which I am glad of, because I like to work only with professionals.