Saturday, September 08, 2007

The futility of human endeavour

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?

4 comments:

Nea said...

But you promised no animals would be hurt! What about all the storm petrels that the cat got after you missed?

It's a bit late, but perhaps I should go over and take a look. I spent a week this summer training to shoot-to-kill, mostly elks but a thirty plus year old cat shouldn't be too difficult as my first live target.

Old Scrote said...

I know, don't lay more guilt on me than I already feel.
In fact, it's quite serious. I just hope the cat died before it wiped out the whole colony. As far as I know, nobody has been back to check.

Nea said...

Not your fault at all. I blame the hippy.

Old Scrote said...

Nea, you are too kind! The real nightmare was that there might have been TWO cats. I just hope if there were, they were of the same sex...