Another oldie but goodie. Bank Holidays really screw up my writing schedule.


I realise this is only a faint possibility in the leafy lanes around Esher, and pretty unlikely in a Hoxton squat occupied by my urban warrior collective. But, as with crocodiles and polar bears, and zombies for that matter, I’ll offer the anti-fatality guidance in a spirit of evenhandedness.

One way to avoid being eaten by a lion is to grow a hedge. Lions assume a hedge is made of thorn bushes. They believe this because the Maasai make barricades of thorn bushes to protect their livestock. So a lion has a bad childhood experience getting ripped to shreds, decides it is not worth the candle, and puts hedges on his or her ‘Not my bucket list.’ Over time, evolutionary pressure has determined that lions will not attempt to breach a hedge, even if it’s privet or something innocuous. ‘Ooooh no thanks, I’m not that hungry just now.’ Strange but true.

This one is even more strange, and I swear this is true. Do not wear Old Spice aftershave. This may not be a difficult thing for the women in my audience, no dreadlocked crusty would even consider it, and a cosmopolitan sophisticate alpha male would laugh the idea out of court. But if you do decide to revert to being a spotty male teenager in the 1950s, and a lion happens to be in the neighbourhood, things do not look good for you. Because lions absolutely love the smell of Old Spice.

I was alerted to this little snippet of totally useless information by a stunning photograph in last week’s i  newspaper. It was a close up of a lioness in all her glory on the African savannah. Miraculously good. The professional wildlife photographer David Stiller set it up by taking a remote control camera, lavishly dousing it in Old Spice, and sitting back somewhere safe to watch the action. About a second after the shot was taken, the lioness grabbed the camera in her jaws, and hauled it about 800 yards away. I have to say the camera casing didn’t fare too well, but the digital disk did.

I’m mildly surprised by this leonine liking, but not wholly. I’m not a big fan of aftershave, but I have worn it occasionally, and my ex-cat Snotbag loved Dunhill; she went mental for it. I am however surprised that anybody found this out about a whopping great predator in the middle of the African veldt. I can see how it can happen with a small domestic feline, even one as psychotic as Snotbag. But a lion? 

I think that may just be what we call empirical science. And it could have been a lot worse. Supposing they were big fans of Brut 33. Splash that on all over, Henry, and you’d be very grateful the lion had wrecked your camera and you didn’t have to take it home smelling of cat wee and bubblegum.