So I was looking through Jack Lynch's edited highlights of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary when I noticed some appalling mis-definitions, thus:
apeThere are a number of points that need to be made here.
A kind of monkey remarkable for imitating what he sees.
An ape; a baboon; a jackanapes.
An animal bearing some resemblance of man.
baboonis completely reasonable.
A monkey of the largest kind.
I recently received an email from Sherri, a Choctaw Indian, who told me that me that the Choctaw are well aware of the evil of the owl. Here's an extract from Bishnik, the official newspaper of the OK Choctaw Nation:
"The owl and the crow were believed to possess powers that were unfriendly to mankind, while the scissor-tailed bird species and chickens were possessors of more benign powers.
Okla did not consider the owl a "wise old bird" as do their white friends. Ishkitini, the great "horned owl," was believed to prowl at night and would attack or kill men or animals should it be allowed an opportunity to do so. If Ofunlo (or Hoyopa), the "screech owl," cried in your yard during the hours of darkness, you could expect that the youngest child of your family would be dead soon. If Opah, the common owl, hooted too near your house, you had received a warning that some member of your family or a close relative would die before the next change of the moon."(Origins of the Choctaw People Retold from Old Legends, Bishnik September 1980, Len Green)
This is just further proof that you shouldn't trust an owl as far as you can fling it from a powerful catapult.
It's madness, you know. I went to a working pottery which, for some bizarre reason, had a small collection of birds. Including owls. Obviously, keeping owls caged up where they can't do any harm is good, though really you need underground caverns and big lead-lined doors to contain their evil.
But they had a maniac called a falconer who was playing around in public with a real owl that wasn't even on a string! Why ? It's insanity ! That owl could have carried off any of the little children who were frozen in fear at the sight of the monster. It shouldn't be allowed, should it ?
We asked Mr Monkey about this; appparently he is not an admirer of Lord Archer, but he doesn't want to go into detail as Lord Archer has tough lawyers.
Bones just cause problems, you know. I've just watched my humans unable to get out of bed because their bones have locked. And bones break when you fall great distances. With internal organs of beans and kapok, a monkey like me is almost totally invulnerable to injury, and is always flexible, physically and mentally. That's why I'm glad to be boneless.
Owls are evil, you know. They can turn their heads through 360 degrees, and that's unnatural (unless you're an Action Man, or a Barbie). They lurk in dark woods, plotting deeds of surpassing wickedness. They delight in swooping upon defenceless young monkeys, and carrying them off for nameless rituals.
Don't be misled by the apparent goodness of owls you read about, such as those in Harry Potter. True, Hedwig appears to be a pleasant creature, Pigwidgeon appears to be amusing. But these are fictional owls ! They are not real owls, and they don't behave like real owls.
Be warned by the Swedes. There's an old Swedish saying
Jag anar ugglor i mossen
which you'd use when you're getting suspicious of things not being what they seem to be, or when things don't feel right to you, or when you think there are other truths hidden underneath. And what is the translation of the saying ?
I sense owls in the moss!!!
And if Swedes think owls are dodgy creatures, then they must be.
Watch the skies ! Beware the owls !
Copyright Rik Shepherd and Mr Monkey.