Friday, March 20, 2009
unfriendly, mirror, shreds
The pretty cat, in the process of taking no notice of me, is on the look out for the neighbourhood bruiser.
The image of a gorilla being shown a mirror and appearing to recognise itself sticks in my mind. The gorilla moves its head from side to side and looks at the mirror out of the corner of its eye to see itself from a different angle, much as a vain human being might do. It is part of a tv programme (concluded this week). It is presented by the farmer and naturalist, Jimmy Doherty,.who repeats for the camera some of the experiments made by Charles Darwin. The inference here is that the gorilla recognises itself and does not mistake its reflection for that of another gorilla. It is pretty convincing. But it is surprising nowadays that any intelligent person should find evidence of the genetic closeness of great apes to homo sapiens other than normal. How different from the reaction of most of Darwin's 19th century contemporaries.Darwin's theory was based on close observation and deduction. To support it, he did not have the benefit of the discovery of DNA . In an article in the current National Geographic magazine, a curious link is established by its author, Matt Ridley. He writes that two weeks before he died, Darwin wrote a paper on on a tiny clam found clamped to the leg of a water beetle in a pond in the English Midlands. The man who sent him the beetle was a shoemaker and amateur naturalist called Walter Drawbridge Crick. The shoemaker married and had a son named Harry, who had a son named Francis, the same Francis Crick, who, in 1953, together with James Watson, discovered DNA.
The bouquet of balloons, which I featured in this blog a few weeks back, still clings to the wire stretched across the High Street. But, from its former gaiety, it has shrunk to a few tattered shreds of rubber and tangled ribbon. It is a sad thing, if you should notice it - rather like a cast of garment or a sloughed skin.