A young elephant – a big, strong one, called Colin – was once enticed off the free & open savannah by a keeper, who offered him free food if only Colin would let some fences be built around him. Colin decided that this sounded alright, because he could probably break down the fences in the night if the keeper turned out to be a bit of a dick.
A few years later, however, and Colin had piled on a few pounds – the keeper’s food supply was quite plentiful, because he kept nicking it from other elephants. Our elephant began to wake up in the night a few times worried about lots of things, but two things worried him most. Firstly, his trunk had become a bit heavy from all the feeding, and so he couldn’t quite reach the top of the fence any more. And secondly, he could definitely feel a boil on his arse, probably from all the sitting-down – it wasn’t really clear where the boil had originally come from, but the keeper very much liked to encourage sitting-down, rather than, say, running around toward the fence – but anyway, with his heavy trunk, he could no longer reach around himself to sort the thing out.
Eventually, the boil became very bad. Colin asked the keeper about it, and the keeper said “It is important that our feeding continues – look at all the trade I’ve developed for your food with the other elephants! I spent the money improving your fence, and I only kept a small bit to buy my new car. You can see the other elephants too, over there in their own pens that I built for them. They like it. They told me so. So much so that they’ll all leave and come to visit you – but meantime, you need to keep sitting there quietly.”
It began to dawn on Colin that perhaps the keeper wasn’t going to act in his best interests. He was still fretful at night, of course, not least because of the now-gigantic boil – so he started to look around for relief. Something. Anything. Any relief. Maybe a new keeper? There were others around, but they were all just interested in different types of car like the current keeper had.
Eventually, Colin had a bit of luck. The keeper himself had grown so fat sitting in his car driving between deals (to trade the food from Colin’s own patch) that he couldn’t quite swing the gate shut on the way out. And there was a rusty nail, on the inside of the gate-post. With lots of grubby things snagged on it. Nevertheless, a nail … and nails can scratch things you can’t reach by yourself. Colin sidled over to the nail – he couldn’t really walk properly by now, the keeper had made hime so fat – but he could, just about, convince enough of his massive arse to point right square at the big ol’ rusty nail.
And in a moment, in a sudden moment – the monkeys up in the baobab tree had been telling stories to each other that he’d never make it – Colin plunged the rusty nail into his boil, and it burst. It made a huge, gigantic mess, and it hurt like a bastard. The gunk went all over some lemurs who liked to hang around Colin’s arse for some reason, and they got quite angry with him, and started shouting at the nail.
I hope this heals eventually, thinks Colin, else I’m never going to be able to walk around again and get fit to break down this fence – but fuck the keeper. Fuck the keeper in the eye, with a spoon. I found a nail, and I’m going to use it. Because once, as I still remember, I was on the savannah, and free.