Friday, 18 July 2014

Getting His Goat

The day before yesterday, which was Wednesday the 16th, I was doing Bay-to-Bay again as usual and the coach driver was once again "Old" Yiannis, who'd surprised me last week with his tales of life in Russia (see previous post). On our way back, as we were dropping the guests off at their accommodations, we were confronted by a particularly brazen goat, which didn't seem at all to be in a hurry to get off the road in front of us.

He stood broadside to us as we approached from about a hundred metres away and didn't move, merely turning his head toward us in what was either a gesture of curiosity or, as it looked to me, one of defiance. Yiannis leaned on his horn, which I must say doesn't seem to me to to be of much use where goats are concerned. However, our caprine obstruction did actually move. However, rather than scramming off the road to join his mates on the hillside to our right, he turned his body so as to be entirely in line with the approaching coach and began to stare us out.

I had the distinct impressions that he was saying, at least with his body language, "listen, you may be bigger then me buster, but I move when I'm good and ready and not before, OK?" I think it may have escaped his notice that a 59-seater coach is considerably more solid than he is and, were it to come to a collision, the chances were overwhelmingly in our favour. Stubborn goats most certainly are, but intelligent and logical? The jury's out. I was reminded of the old Frank Sinatra song "High Hopes", where the words went something like:

Once there was a silly old ram
Thought he'd punch a hole in a dam
No one could make that ram scram
He kept buttin' that dam

I think we'd just encountered that ram's cousin, or maybe grandson. Yiannis had no choice but to stand on the brakes, but a coach doesn't stop in a few metres. Fortunately the showoff with the horns decided that his mates beside the road had seen his courage amply demonstrated by now, were suitably impressed and there was no need to actually take it to the point of impact. He trotted off to the roadside just in time to avoid becoming considerably flatter than he'd have liked.

"You know it's illegal Yianni?" Said Yianni (Yea, I know, confusing eh?).

"What is?" I asked.

"Allowing your goats to wander on the road. Law says if you hit one you can take it home for your table. Downright dangerous anyway. Causes a lot of accidents."

Now, I had been told years ago that if a goat gets into your garden then you're allowed by law to kill it and eat it, but I was rather under the impression that the goatherds had an ancient and inalienable right to let their goats roam on public land, which included, so I'd thought, the highways and byways. Yiannis the driver, though, believes otherwise.

"Some years back, Yianni," he went on, "I was driving a truck. It was a big pickup, twenty tonner, when a line of five goats decided to saunter across the road in front of me, cool as you like. There was nothing I could do. I slammed on the brakes and the truck slid sideways, but those goats acted as though I wasn't even there. They just carried on crossing the road like they had all the time in the world. The long and the short of it is, I ran over the last one. It was out of my hands, it was either that or thr truck was going to roll.

"Anyway, I finally stopped, jumped out of the cab and ran back to see what state the goat I'd run over was in. There was no doubt that it was terminal."

"So," I asked, "What did you do, leave it there? Call a vet or something?"

"Leave it there? You must be joking. I threw it in the back of the truck, took it home, slit its throat, skinned, cleaned and diced it. Yianni, I had 30 kilo of meat for the freezer. I tell you, saved me a lot of money did that goat!"

My driver's smile spread from ear to ear and he rubbed his tummy as he recalled the sweet taste of 30 kilo of free goat meat.

Of course, our guests behind us in the bus had no idea what he was going on about. I'd heard the collective "Aaaah" as the goat before us had finally strolled out of our way. No doubt they were thinking: "how cute, our driver stops for goats."

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