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

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

Guru Careers: Creative Director / Head of Creative

£65K - £75K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Creative Director...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Luxury Brand

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global wholesaler and reta...

Recruitment Genius: Store Manager - Department Store

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This organization is one of the founding names...

Recruitment Genius: 2nd / 3rd Line IT Support Engineer - IT Managed Services

£30000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are loo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

'You’re just jealous', and other common misconceptions about the Protein World advert

Hannah Atkinson
David Cameron has said he is not going to “roll over” and let Labour leader Ed Miliband and the SNP’s Alex Salmond wreck the achievements of the last five years  

After five years of completely flaccid leadership, I'm glad something 'pumps up' David Cameron

Joe Sandler Clarke
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence