|LETTERS FROM LONDON
|REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
29 July 2015
|Going On a Holiday
The Most Dangerous Game, cult film from 1932. ‘An insane [big game] hunter
[Count Zaroff] arranges for a ship to be wrecked on an island where he can
indulge in some sort of hunting and killing of the passengers’.
‘He turns to hunting men, letting them loose on his estate, which is no larger than
a deer park...he is in the habit of giving his quarry time enough to hide and then
starting out with his bow and arrow. He may use a high-powered rifle if the fancy
strikes him, and in the event that his man succeeds in avoiding him for a certain
number of hours he gives the hunted one his freedom.’ Not true of dentist, Walt
We all now know more than we’d ever want to in regards to dentist Walt from
Minnesota. The vile (add your own adjectives here) Walt Palmer has become the
hunter now being hunted and has ‘gone into hiding’ – not a bad idea - possibly
in fear from having his teeth pulled out one by one.
According to the public’s response to the outrage, the rich, suburban, sadistic
dentist (so not good for their dubious reputation is it?) from Minnesota could be
lured, shot by a crossbow in the neck, take 40 hours to die, have his head
chopped off, skinned alive (OK. Perhaps not alive), photographed with satisfied
smiling sadists and they wouldn’t have to pay £35,000 would they?
13 year old majestic Cecil had worn a GPS collar as part of a research project
by Oxford University. The hunters tried to destroy the collar, but failed. Walt
didn't notice when he beheaded Cecil? Really? And then skinned him? Really?
Walt is a member of Safari Club International, which has 55,000 members like
Walt. The obsessive wild animal killer has 43 registered kills. God knows if he
has used his high-tech bow and arrow on local Minnesota animals: cats, rabbits,
In 2008 Walt paid a $2,000 fine and received a year’s probation after he
pleaded guilty to making a false statement to US federal wildlife officials after
slaying a black bear during a ‘guided’ hunt in Wisconsin. Walt killed it outside
an authorised zone. It gets better. Well, actually worse depending on your
opinion of Walt. Allegedly in 2009 Walt paid out £82,000 to settle a sexual
harassment case against him bought on by a former employee at his dental
practice for ‘ongoing and unwelcomed sexual harassment...verbal comments
and physical conduct involving her breasts, buttocks, and genitalia’ according to
Tammy Brevik. Better? Worse? Mon dieu! Walt then took an ‘ethics’ course. No,
Treasured Cecil evidently enjoyed interaction with humans, clearly Walt not
included. Cecil‘s 42 cubs will be killed, more ‘hunters’ will be inspired to take up
this bloody blood sport with less than 30,000 lions left to slaughter. Oh dear.
These killers on holiday often have their beast of choice cornered or encircled to
guarantee an easy shot on game farms.
A seven-day trophy-hunting package to slaughter a Cape buffalo - £4,390. A
five-day trip to slaughter an elephant - £7,018. A 14-day excursion to slaughter a
leopard or a rhino - £12,819. Giraffes, wildebeest and zebras - for as little as
£3,201, including a glorious seven-day rural getaway.
For those who prefer South Africa, a “Five Trophy Animals Seven-Day Safari”,
which includes a professional hunter, accommodation, meals, beer and wine for
£2,307. Animal life certainly is cheap.
But adding insult to injury, these blood-thirsty can choose their five chosen
targets from a list. A list! They are then taken around ranges for them to
slaughter their chosen favourites. Taxidermy and videos capturing their kills are
available extra costs. Only three percent of the money generated benefits the
But back to Walt. Surely your favourite image was Walt-doing-Putin holding up a
bloody leopard naked from the waist up. Ah. The killer who keeps on giving.
Now we know Walt fancied a larger animal immediately after killing Cecil – ie; an
elephant, but a large enough one wasn’t available and waiting although an
elephant carcass had been used to lure Cecil. Walt missed out on a £36,000 10-
day ‘elephant package’. Oh dear. Perhaps his next holiday.
And now for a minute of nostalgic realisation in regards to lions. We need some
sort of relief from Walt don’t you think? Remember Christian the Lion, originally
purchased by Australians John Rendall and Anthony ‘Ace’ Bourke from Harrods
in 1969? If not, worth time taken to view their reunion on line. Soul restoring.
Tissues to hand.
Taking the Mickey
Oh must I say it? I must. Disneyland Paris takes the Mickey. Oh I do apologise,
but it is absolutely outrageous. And I thought we were only continuously ripped
off in our own country. Ha.
Disney is charging French consumers €1,346/£955 for a premium package,
while Britons were charged €1,870/£1318 and German visitors a shocking
€2,447/£1725! Do you reckon the Germans even know? Always France for the
French, n’est-ce pas? Mais oui.
Now what to do, what to do. Boycott. Bien sûr!
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
Well, you could instead go on holiday in Whitby. Huh you say. It’s the 125th
anniversary of Dracula’s birth in the charming Yorkshire town.
Apparently little has changed in the streets around Royal Crescent since Bram
Stoker’s infamous novel. His novel was actually based on a real event in 1885.
The ship, the Dmitry, was beached on Tate Hill Sands. Did you know that?
Local Harry Collett in Victorian costume conducts Dracula-themed night-time
walks around Whitby. As you do naturally. “I’ve been doing the walks since
about 92...1892!” Mr Collett in top hat tells his keen audience: “In the book
Dracula runs ashore as a black dog. This is based on another legend Stoker
would have heard about a dark hound – a story brought over by the Vikings. And
the black coach that later takes Jonathan Harker to Castle Dracula was taken
from a local story about the lord of Mulgrave Castle, who used to take to a black
coach that rattled down the road when he was on his way to court Elizabeth
“Whitby was undoubtedly instrumental to Stoker when he wrote Dracula. When
he took up residency in Royal Crescent, his landlady would turf him out in the
morning so she could clean the room. Stoker would go to the reading room of
the Royal Hotel and look out at the scene you can see now. That first week when
he was alone in Whitby, he would go around, soaking up the ambience.”
And the ambience? St Mary’s Churchyard where Lucy Westenra was attacked
by the vampiric count is across the bay near the half-ruined abbey. Below is
Tate Hill Sands where the ship carrying Dracula ran aground. You remember; its
dead skipper lashed to the wheel (macabre) and its crew missing (chilling).
Known locally as the Church Stairs, the 199 steps rise to the East Cliff, where in
the guise of a black hound (ghoulish) Dracula ran after arriving in Whitby. This
is the very view Stoker would have seen.
In the fudge shop you can buy chocolate coffins. Now you just know there is the
Dracula Experience. For a few pounds you can slink through labyrinthine pitch-
black passages with students dressed as ghouls happy to make your blood run
Or you could simply rent Nosferatu, 1922. Unforgettable. Spine-chilling. Or The
Fearless Vampire Killers or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck 1967.