Week in, week out: William Hartston reveals the hitherto unsuspected connection between Robin Cook and artificial insemination for koalas

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The Independent Online
The sex organs of mice are stunted by a chemical compound used in a protective coating on human teeth, according to this week's New Scientist. The same day that the disturbing report appeared, there came the news from Australia of the birth of the world's first koala conceived by artificial insemination. The day before, the authorities in Taiwan announced that they had built an overhead crossing in a national park to help Formosan rock monkeys to cross a busy road without being hit by cars, while in Japan the ethics committee of the Saitama Medical College granted a request for the nation's first officially sanctioned sex-change operation.

Meanwhile, in the courtrooms of North America, a Canadian dominatrix threatened to bring the tools of her trade into court to prove that her services were no more than legal, role-playing fantasy games, and a New Yorker was charged with selling tapes over the Internet of partially clad women stamping on small animals. A man in Florida, however, was told that he could not legally offer to swap one of his kidneys for a boat; a pest- control company in Tucson, Arizona, offered a $50,000 reward for the person catching a specially marked cockroach; French researchers began a study involving white rats drinking burgundy, and American doctors reported that high heels may be a cause of arthritis in women.

Is it not now blindingly obvious what has been going on at the Foreign Office? Do not the above items all point unerringly to a single conclusion? Do they not completely exonerate Robin Cook of all culpability in the arms to Africa affair? Because how can we attach any blame to a man who, from all the evidence above, must have thought the deal was no more than a simple trade in film props? Let me explain ...

Just suppose a hastily scribbled sheet of A4 paper is pushed into your bulging in-tray containing the words "export of armaments" and "S. Leone". Would not any Foreign Secretary in his right mind assume this was something to do with a spaghetti western? What the forthcoming investigations will reveal, however, is a far more complex tale.

The "S. Leone" referred to in the Foreign Office documents is not, in fact, the film-maker Sergio Leone, but his lesser-known little sister Sierra (whose mother, incidentally, was celebrated in the 1947 Humphrey Bogart classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre). Consistently upstaged by her brother, Sierra was driven into the seediest areas of the film industry.

When the arms to Africa crisis erupted, Foreign Office officials, using an Internet search in an attempt to find out the exact location of Sierra Leone, were led to a web-site selling pornographic videos with titles such as Vanessa's Frog Stomp.

But who was this Vanessa, star also of Vanessa, Topless Destructor, who trampled on small animals while wearing stiletto heels? The Reuters report of this strange foot-fetishistic bestial sadism ends with the words: "They are still looking for the women in the videos", presumably to warn them about the potential danger of arthritis. They will not easily identify her, however, since she has gone to Japan for a sex change. The Japanese case is indeed one of a female-to-male swap.

But what sort of perverted character could possibly want to purchase such videos? Is this not exactly the sort of person who would sell his kidney in order to buy a boat to sail to Australia to procure more of this type of filth? Because - make no mistake about it - Ms Leone is now plying her vile trade in Brisbane, as the artificially inseminated koala story makes clear. Here are the relevant passages from the Reuters report: "The problem with artificially inseminating a koala was that, like the domestic cat, it required the physical act of mating to trigger the release of the egg from the follicle on the ovary ... semen was collected from a male koala using an artificial vagina." Michael McGowan, a researcher at the University of Queensland, said of the resulting birth: "We are confident this is a world first as the field of research is so small."

Now I don't know much about the sex aids for marsupials industry, but I'd wager a tidy sum that Sierra Leone has access to artificial koala vaginas. It's just the sort of thing a certain type of man would give his right kidney for. Has there not been a disturbing silence from the Foreign Office in recent weeks on the subject of export licences for artificial koala vaginas?

And what may we expect next from Ms Leone? The Taiwanese are already taking steps to protect their monkeys from a bestial remake of Crash, but the news from France is even worse. Those Burgundy-swilling rats are ostensibly part of a study to investigate the role played by resveratol, a chemical found in grape skins, in protecting from blood clots and heart attacks. Only last week, however, in a survey in the United States 34.8 per cent of adolescent males admitted that either they or their partner was drunk or high on drugs when they last had intercourse.

The vileness of it all is almost impossible to believe: someone is trying to get rats drunk so they will have sex with koalas. No wonder the court in Toronto is so worried about allowing their dominatrix defendant to bring her equipment into court. "Exhibit A, m'lud: an artificial koala vagina with drunken white rat attached." The rat itself, of course, can hardly be expected to testify after it has been intimidated by the threat of having its sex organs bitten by a wicked film director with that organ- shrivelling coating on her teeth.

And is that $50,000 cockroach a simple prize in a pest-control promotion, as we are led to believe? Or is it the specially trained animal star of Sierra Leone Productions plc - the prize put up by the FBI in an attempt to get the cockroach to testify for the prosecution as they build up their case against Ms Sierra Leone?

Robin Cook clearly has a great deal to answer for.

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