Monday, 10 August 2009

The First One: Wool Runnings

"But still she was there, who was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-dûr; and she served none but herself, drinking the blood of Elves and Men, bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts, weaving webs of shadow; for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness."

Since this first blog post is essentially a prequel; I will be writing it before I head of to New Zealand for my elective placement, and since I am starting off from where I live in Cardiff, Wales I thought I would get this highly important subject out of the way.


In Wales there are approximately 2-3 sheep per member of the population. In New Zealand this ratio skews to about 8 sheep per person. Your view on who wins depends on your opinion on sheep I suppose. Either way, if you're worried that some lunatic will plant a bomb under your country which will detonate if the sheep to human ratio falls below a certain number then either nation is a fairly safe bet. Don't go to Antarctica. That bomb will go right off. Unless you can trick the elaborate sheep-counting system the villain has set up by putting some Arron-wear over some penguins.

I'll stop this train of thought before I start to think Speed 3: Ewes Control is a good idea for a film. It goes without saying that Sandra Bullock would definitely agree to star in it.

That so much of their economy relies on our woolly friends means that both the Welsh and the New Zealanders have to put up with a fair few unsavoury jokes about their ovine love. Needless to say I won't be making any of those here. I'll be spending a lot of time in New Zealand, live in Wales and value my knee-caps. I use them all the time. It's not as if we make fun of many other nationalities as a result of their agriculture. For example China produces most of the world's apples (41%). We would never get the following joke:

Q: Why did the Chinese person cross the road?

A: Because there was an apple that they definitely wanted to have sex with on the other side.

Nope. Can't see it. We can thus draw two conclusions.

1.) Out of all the racisms, which are very stupid anyway. Farming-based racism is one of the most stupid.

2.) I have grossly overestimated the number of conclusions that can be drawn from that joke.

On Sunday 16th of August I will be flying the to New Zealand for my elective placement for my medical degree. Essentially the idea is to experience the health care system of another country by working in a hospital in that country. This is not always the case, many medical students will complete their placements in the UK but it is what I am doing. I thought it may be fairly interesting to write a blog of my experiences in New Zealand for my own benefit (predominantly) and so that I don't have to write so many e-mails to update my friends (who definitely exist) on how I am getting on.
Hopefully it will be amusing, hopefully it will help me write my elective report and hopefully it will inform anybody that happens to read it about more than sheep.
Which by the way, may not be as stupid as we are led to be believe. For example, a flock in West Yorkshire were observed to have some problem-solving ability while getting over cattle-grids by rolling on their backs. (
Apparently they also recognise faces using a similar cognitive process to human beings

I don't understand why the ability to recognise human faces would be an advantage for sheep. They can't get mugged that much and probably don't get asked to partake in many line-ups when they press charges. The gist of (part of) the study is that sheep recognise the faces of other sheep better, and in a slightly different way to how they recognise human faces. So if you are going to mug a sheep, where a human rather than a sheep mask. Also sit down and take a long hard look at your life. You've taken to mugging sheep and reading scientific studies on how to do it best. Sort it out!

So hopefully that's enough mention of sheep to satisfy the imperative of a blog set mainly in New Zealand by someone who lives in Wales. With that I'm going to round-up (ahem) with the main points of this introduction

a.) New Zealand and Wales won't be exploded by a sheep-terrorist.
b.) Racism is bad, farm-based racism is worse.
c.) I am going to New Zealand for my medical elective.
d.) While I am there my sheep will either roll-away or frame me in a police-line-up.

Until next time...