I have received shoals of letters about the vulture that escaped from a zoo in Norfolk and was recaptured a few days later, and I feel I should print some of the best of them today.
From Mrs Dorothy Macmillan (no relation)
Sir, I am constantly amazed by how many zoos there are in Britain of which one has never heard, from which animals are always escaping in the silly season to make headlines day after day. Call me cynical, but I wonder if these zoos really exist? Is it perhaps not more likely that journalists get together and plan this in advance? They buy a vulture, agree on the name of the fictional zoo from which it has escaped, hire a pretty girl as the "vulture-keeper" and then they're up and running!
From Mr Ron Legate
Sir, I am constantly amazed by the ability of journalists to turn into a long-running saga something which is not a story in the first place. In this particular case I wonder if it is not because of an affinity between the nature of journalists and the nature of vultures? Both feed on others' misfortunes. Both are too lazy to go out and hunt for themselves, but depend on others to start the process. Both customarily turn up days after any action has taken place. And both vultures and journalists have the same seedy, well-worn look, with bags under their eyes. No wonder they appreciate each other. I am only surprised that the newspapers didn't ask if the vulture was on expenses.
From Mrs Alice Legate (no relation)
Sir, I am constantly amazed by this Government's refusal to ban vulture-hunting. One could only applaud the poor vulture's bid for freedom and then look on, sickened, as the nation mounted a vicious witch-hunt which, let's face it, was only obeying its nature. People who take part in vulture-hunting, with their ghastly leather gloves and big nets, are prolonging a barbarous custom that should have been abolished long ago. Come on, Tony – let's make it illegal!
From Mr Walter Soil
Sir, I am constantly amazed by the way people are constantly amazed by things. Is it actually possible to have a state of constant amazement? Would not real constant amazement lead straight to a heart attack? Would it not be truer to start these letters with: "I am fleetingly provoked into writing to you ..."?
From Mr George Wainwright
Sir, I am passingly stimulated to write to you about this vulture, or rather, about the very charming young woman whom we saw recapture her charge. Am I alone in thinking that she should be given her own TV programme? The afternoon schedules are full of guff about gardening and cookery, but there is nothing about bird-training, falconry or even the care and maintenance of vultures. The BBC seems to be training up nobody to replace David Attenborough. I think she would do it delightfully – and her charms contrasted so refreshingly with the murderous scavenger beside her! Come on, Huw Wheldon, or whoever's in charge today! Get cracking!
From Mr Bert Oddie (no relation)
Sir, I am constantly amazed at the way people write off vultures as murderous scavengers. For one thing, vultures do not kill. For another, they perform a very useful function. An animal that clears away the debris of life and death is no more a scavenger than an undertaker or a dustman. In my years in Africa, I several times adopted vultures as house companions and found them loyal and faithful pets, as long as you didn't leave the fridge open or turn your back during lunch! With a vulture around, you don't need a dishwasher, I can tell you. You don't need undertakers either, as we discovered when an elderly aunt died, but that's another story...
From Mr Terence Wycherley
Sir, I am constantly amazed at the persistent rumour that vultures never attack living things. I remember once, in India, dangling an arm out of a train window, when suddenly...
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