I was introduced to the futility of human endeavour more than thirty years ago when I was called upon to shoot a cat. Don't go: no animal was harmed in the writing of this blog.
A group of us went to an island called Eilann Nan Ron off the north coast of Scotland to ring (band) a colony of Storm Petrels. Nan Ron is uninhabited but has the remains of crofts left behind by the islanders. The one we slept in had previously been occupied by a Hippy, as witness the graffiti on the wall, eg, "Silver flowers in my hair, the wind has gone silent, it is better to be light than honorable". When the local fisherman took him off the island, he was emaciated, hypothermic and delirious. And his poetry was crap.
Unfortunately, this child of flower power had taken a cat on to the island, which got left behind when he was evacuated. And the evidence was everywhere at the Storm Petrel colony. This alien introduction was decimating the birds, killing at will.
And so it fell to me, as the only one with a shotgun licence, to borrow a 12-bore and a few rounds, and to lie up on the scree at night waiting for a sign of the cat, while my colleagues enjoyed themselves ringing Storm Petrels. A couple of times I did see - or thought I saw - cat's eyes, but after hours of cramp and cold and resentment, a person can imagine all sorts of things, including a brief glimpse of Shirley MacLaine (good stuff, the malt whiskey that Hector the Fisherman gave me). I fired off a couple of shots now and then to reassure my colleagues, but it was a futile endeavour: Cat 1, Old Scrote 0.
Life's like that, isn't it?