Monday, September 17, 2007

Animal of the Week -- September 17, 2007

Hello one, Hello all

Many thanks for your responses to my previous missive, it seems that many of you hold cartoon series Dungeons and Dragons in great affection, more than one of you seemed to harbour, er, special fondnesses for particular characters.

Anyway, enough of that nonsense. A recurring theme over the past month or so has been that of animal alphabets, first a very dear friend comes to visit and she is wearing an animal alphabet T shirt, then the following weekend I go to the Green Man festival, I turn up the day after most of the people with whom I was staying, and they tell me that the night before they had been playing a game in which participants have to name an animal starting with each letter of the alphabet.

Both on my friend's T shirt and in the Green Man naming game two letters caused particularly problems, not the Q and the Z as you might expect—quaggas, zebras, zorillas, quillas, zanders, quetzels, and zebu provide plenty of options—but surprisingly U and, perhaps predictably, X. Now, where previously in such pastimes you had to make an exception for a fictional unicorn for U, you have the previous animal of the, erm, week, the uakari. But what about that pesky X?

At the Green Man festival an ever-astute Welshman recalled the X-ray fish, a small aquarium fish with see-through skin (the kind of skin you can see through), and that was going to be this week's animal...until I spotted another fish with a name beginning with X. This week's animal of the week is Petroscirtes xestus (xestus fangblenny, bearded sabretooth blenny). Blennies are small coastal fish, and this species is no exception, unremarkable and typically brown. Fangblenny just sounds so oxymoronic, the equivalent of "werehamster", "vampire tit", "The Sloth of the Baskervilles", or "murderous death sprat of terror".

There's not much more to say on the matter of the xestus fangblenny. I have no idea what xestus means, do you? Answers in an email please, the prize being an honourable mention in next week's AOTW.

Peter Hayward
Head Keeper
Animal of the Week

ps, having struggled this far through AOTW, you will be shocked to learn that I am both an editor and a writer. Now that my MSc is over and before I have to return to selling what god gave me for £20 a pop above a Soho hairdressers, I am looking for freelance/temporary/permanent work. Do you know anyone who needs any editing and/or writing done? If so, please let me know.

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