On the Ice

News breaks, and people stand around on street corners like penguins in one of those documentary shorts they used to show at the cinema, slotted in between the cartoon mice and cowboys. Maybe it was a harbinger of global warming – stop-frame chases careering across the inhospitable landscape – but the penguins took it in their ungainly stride, barely paying attention to the choreographed pandemonium as mousetraps snapped on cats’ noses. I’m of a generation that learnt early that you can’t phase penguins, and that even a polar bear with a false beak won’t raise an emperor’s eyebrows. Even as news breaks and icecaps crumble, it’s pretty much all about fish and keeping their eggs warm. Sure, sometimes they imagine sunnier climes, and sometimes they wonder why they even have wings when they can’t fly; but when they stand as if stunned, looking at nothing but the silver distance, they don’t know what we know and can’t imagine the implications of the latest figures. They don’t even know who these cowboys are or what those distant smoke signals mean.





Oz Hardwick







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