Tim Key: 'We'd acquired the reindeer head from a Finnish military man called Snoopy'

 

Share
Related Topics

I'm sat in my flat waiting for the paint to dry on the wooden hippopotamus's head I recovered from beside the road yesterday while we were driving back from a Salisbury-based taxidermist who had agreed to clean the maggots off the reindeer's head we imported from Lapland six weeks ago.

When you are asked to do a column by some lady at The Independent and you say yes, one consequence is that you then actually have to do it. For that to happen, it's really important that each week either (a) something happens to you or (b) you think of something. From there, it's then just a case of writing it down until your page is full up and emailing it to the contact you've been given.

So when my idiot-friend Jelson asked me to drive to Wiltshire so a man called Shaun could power-hose a reindeer's head to the bone, it was actually a massive relief. He picked me up from a roundabout and for two hours we drove, ate Jelly Babies and discussed how many bags the reindeer's head was in. The problem was that because it had decomposed so much, it wasn't particularly messing about smell-wise. Jelson initially said he had double-bagged it, but because I was shouting at him and my face was going green, he later said he had quadruple-bagged it to assuage me. I knew it was a lie and we pressed on. It was good to be out of London.

We'd acquired the head from a Finnish military man called Snoopy in March while shooting a short film about man's relationship with nature in Luosto, Lapland. We charmed it through customs and Jelson "half-buried" it in his back garden as a stopgap while he worked out what to do next. This was a problem because Jelson lives with his parents (he is a cross between a man and a little baby) and anyone who's ever done this in their thirties will know that half-burying a reindeer's head is exactly the sort of thing parents are talking about when they say, "You know you're welcome here but don't take the piss". So he'd googled taxidermists and found one near Stonehenge.

Shaun's reaction to the head once we'd taken both bags off was enigmatic enough. He was an experienced taxidermist who kept ferrets and had once done a lion. But even he sneered at the maggots. He started pulling the fur away from the skull and slicing the leather away with a scalpel while almost inaudibly telling us most taxidermists would tell us to sling our hook. Jelson knew that, having explained the situation to several London-based taxidermists. That's why we were in Salisbury.

Shaun fed his ferrets some bits of the head and did things involving boiling and acid to our reindeer and trotted out an anecdote about some sod who'd shot a jay, and then he triple-bagged the rotten flesh and maggots and wiped his hands down on his jeans and we shook hands and left. We had a quick snoop around Stonehenge (which is impressive when you remember it pre-dates cranes), stopped to watch some posh people training for a polo match (each posho uses four horses per game) and headed home. And it was as we came through Shepherd's Bush that we spied a wooden hippopotamus's head, discarded by the side of the road. We pocketed it, bought paint from Homebase and Jelson dropped me home. Big high-five.

The first thing you have to do, when you acquire a wooden hippopotamus's head, is to wipe it down and then fill any gaps there might be with caulk. Then you let this set before applying brilliant-white undercoat. Then you wait, while cycling through your photos of a thick-set man lowering a reindeer's head into an industrial boiler by its antler. Only once it is dry can you add a coat of bright-pink satin and work out how you're going to fix it to your wall so you have an off-beat nod to big-game hunting in your flat.

I'm in that inbetween moment now. Drinking Ribena and writing my column for The Independent. I think I needed a day out of London to clear my head. It worked. I feel like I've completely demaggoted it and painted it brilliant white.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
In this handout provided by NASA from the the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, weather system Arthur travels up the east coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida in space. The robotic arm of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 is seen at upper right. According to reports, Arthur has begun moving steadily northward at around 5 kt. and the tropical storm is expected to strike the North Carolina Outer Banks  

Thanks to government investment, commercial space travel is becoming a reality

Richard Branson
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week