“We saw warring warthogs...”
Q asked the poet Michael Pedersen to tell us a story about his close friend Scott Hutchison. He responded with this anecdote from their recent tour of South Africa, promoting Pedersen’s book Oyster.
There are some things that belong only to us – in this case, four dozing lions and a bull elephant on the rampage. “In between shows in Johannesburg and Cape Town we sneaked off on an animal safari. Here we discovered an enchantress of a wine called M’hudi that made us giddy, gave a smooch wi’ each sip. We became comets cruising ether, bumper cars aroond stars. At the end of this trip you said to me: ‘Well, we know one thing now. We’re fantastic at a holiday.’ We toasted to more of them and mooted spots all over the globe. But back to the safari – an inaugural fur us both. “We saw warring warthogs, myriad wildebeest and impala, a generous batch of hippo, lions, giraffe, cheetah, elephant, zebra, rhino, an African wild dog (which caused a right stir)… the list goes on. Our Park Ranger’s name escapes me and I can’t text you to ask again, which is a real c**t. Anyhow, there was this unwritten code that safari go-ers (that’s us) would notify the group of significant spots so as the jeep could be swung around and all eyes could slurp up nature’s wonder. Lions, elephants and cheetahs were the paragon sightings and hours had drifted by since any had surfaced. The day was near done, so the jeep purred off back towards Shepherds Tree Lodge, still thirsty for more. “There was a point at which the sky attached its gaze to us, something in the shifting shadows said so. It was then that you tapped me on the shoulder silently and gestured up a steep gradient to a grassy plateau, where two lionesses lay with two cubs sprawled out in a circle, lolling in the sun. We marvelled a moment, marvelled all over them, took them in with supreme sightlines and a dream-like stillness. Whilst the others nattered on, garrulous and boozy from a well-oiled rest break, we basked in the company of lions. “A minute or two down the road you tapped me once again and mouthed slowly: ‘Fuck ’em. That was just for us’. And so it was, and is, and forever will be. “I know what you’re thinking: what about that rampaging bull elephant? To which I say, fuck ye, that’s just for us.”