I made a right ass of myself worrying over little donkey

IN CASE you might ever need to know, donkeys, same as horses, may be led to water but not made to drink it. Confirmation of this pretty obvious fact came for me with a recent, and happily brief, spell in self-appointed charge of a donkey. Rather worrying

IN CASE you might ever need to know, donkeys, same as horses, may be led to water but not made to drink it.

Confirmation of this pretty obvious fact came for me with a recent, and happily brief, spell in self-appointed charge of a donkey.

Rather worrying it was. Might even be thought I made a bit of an ass of myself over it.

The whole lark began while I was on the blower to the Recorder office one morning, in the lively market town of Ain Draham.


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Getting all the latest from old colleagues, I was in turn able to impart a slice of local colour when a young donkey appeared outside the phone booth, trailing a long tether, which hadn't done that job.

Clearly revelling on such freedom, the little animal disrupted main street traffic by complacently laying down in the middle of it, rolling over, and cheerfully waving its hooves to all of us. The 11 o'clock bus had to pull up sharpish, and a man on a brakeless bike slammed both feet down even quicker.

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The smiling locals seemed content to watch the drama unfold without their help.

By the time I was off the phone the donkey had got up and begun exploring a sideroad, yards of rope dragging along in the dust behind it, with chuckling bystanders still not lifting a finger.

I wouldn't have either had not a car coming quickly around the corner, swerved to just avoid the donkey, which seemed quite unfazed by the near miss. Not much above one-year-old it was almost certainly out for the first time on its Jack.

The tether was at my feet, so I bent down, grabbed it, and began to look for a safe hitching-post to attach the wanderer to until its owner came searching for it.

That, I suspected wouldn't be long. Around this hill country donkeys are the only viable transport in many places, and therefore well looked after.

No amount of tugging, pulling, cajoling and cussing' could persuade the beast to move beyond the baker's open-fronted premises until it had scoffed one of the three oven-warm stick loaves I'd bought there.

The impasse delighted the onlookers.

"Petit dejeuner, Monsieur," chortled one old boy, as donkey smugly chomped down the last of my loaf.

The baker shrugged a don't know about where it might hail from, waving a "take-your-pick" hand at the surrounding hills.

The other old joker declined when I tried to give him the tether rope.

Everyone else reacted similarly, but one pointed down the road to the police station.

"You're having a laugh, mate," I said to myself.

Go in there and say pardon me, officer, but I've got this stray donkey? Not Pygmalion likely!

But then I mused it wasn't like Barkingside or Ilford nicks, was it?

Except when I did go in there it was, of course. Or like any cop-shop the world over.

What with the lingo problem the first 10 minutes went on who I was, what was I doing, where did I live, etc, my jocular "I'm not rustling donkeys," was lost on them I'm afraid, although having tied one to the police station front fence seemed in no way to disturb their sang froid.

In the end they said I could leave donkey there. Before going I explained I'd fed, but not watered it.

Reluctantly a bucket was produced and filled.

To the cops' gratification donkey totally disdained even one swig.

Not it's usual bucket, I supposed.

A post-shopping hour later, though, I was really galled. Seeing donkey no longer where I'd left him hitched to the nick fence, I enquired within as to how they'd so quickly found its address.

A policeman took me across the road and pointed to a narrow track leading downhill.

Donkey had gone that way, helped by a parting whack on its rump.

The folks down there, it was explained to me, are all donkey people.

They would soon be on their mobiles locating the truant's owner, ensuring its safe return, and doubtless gleefully rubbing in how to properly secure a tether.

Not exactly Einstein, that thinking by the cops on solving the problem was it?

You can perhaps see why I felt a bit of an ass. And me once a country boy too.

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