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The Goats of Rhodes

Posted by Simon Parke, 26 September 2017, 9.03am

I write on behalf of the goats of Rhodes.

No one else is doing much on their behalf.

You have post cards of the ‘Cats of Rhodes’, all looking cute in the sun.

And you can find endless ‘Donkeys of Rhodes’ - big-eared soft toys to take home to the grandchildren.

But ask in the shops for something a little goaty – ‘ a post card, perhaps, or a cuddly toy?’ - and they look at you as if you’re mad.

‘We have no goats, no.’

There may be a lot of them about on the island. But the message seems to be: why would anyone want anything celebrating a goat?

‘You English!’

And fair’s fair, let’s not obfuscate - they do smell like Satan’s old sweat.

No, they really do…it’s awful, trumped only by vomit.

But also…so much to admire in goats.

Well, one thing, really.

They survive.

Goats are the patron saints of survivors.

No one’s feeding the goats - not like the sentimental British tourists who feed the cats from their restaurant table.

And when they’re not hitting them, the fat owners even feed their donkeys, so they can carry further fat people up the steep and winding path to the Lindos Acropolis.

(The donkeys won’t work if they aren’t fed…its economics.)

But no one feeds the goats. Why would you feed a goat?

They’re left to manage on their own, in the killing heat of the sparse rocks, where only scorpions smile.

The goat is shown the kingdom and told: ‘This wasteland is all yours!’

Perhaps you know the feeling.

This is why they come down to the road sometimes, where you can find them straining on their back legs, reaching up for low-hanging leaves on the olive trees.

As survivors, they keep looking, keep going, keep reaching up, even when the last dry thistle is gone.

And brutalised by life, they are beyond fear.

There are cars and coaches road side as well, driving without care. But the goats don’t bow to these large metal objects rushing by.

Indeed, they are liable to ram them on occasion; they don’t mind getting some car paint on their hooves and horns.

Yet, as my sweaty runner’s body approaches them on the mountain roads, they scarper.

They won’t move for a lorry but the goats scarper when I approach!

Why this is so is a complete mystery.

I mean, I did catch - on the dry wind - one of them muttering something like ‘old white-legs – he smell like Satan’s old sweat.’

I presume he was being rude about one of his goat colleagues.

Yes, that’ll be it…definitely.

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