My One With Two Legs and I have been having rest in Dumfries and Galloway for the past two weeks. During this time I, Martin The Donkey (dear readers please note that the T and D are capitalised for I am not merely a donkey but The Donkey), thought I would write a little piece telling of my experiences from our adventure. I have read My One With Two Leg’s account so far and have taken umbrage at some of what he has written. Thus, it is now necessary, nay vital, for me to give a more accurately nuanced perspective.
My Stay at the Inchnadamph Hotel
Firstly, while My One With Two Legs means well and in many ways is very sweet, he is in fact a total idiot. Because he is a halfwit, it has fallen to me to teach him. This can be a slow and painful process (especially for him), and one that he resists much of the time, falsely believing that he is charge. While this schooling is somewhat burdensome and certainly below me, given he has such small ears what does one expect? As we all know, virtue and intelligence are clearly linked to ear size, and I, Martin The Donkey have the biggest ears of all.
Having a Break in the Land of Two-Leggers’ Stables
I want to address the issue of stubbornness. From my observations of two-legged behaviour, it has become apparent that they think we long ears are bloody minded and malevolent, seeking at all times to derail their two-legged plans. This could not be further from the truth. The fact is that like My One With Two Legs, all two-leggers are stupid (though he is particularly so). It’s not that we are simply unwilling to do things, but we are not likely to do something dangerous and are definitely not going to blindly follow those small eared morons as they blunder about.
For example, My One With Two Legs talked about my not wanting to walk across soft ground. It was here that I had to begin teaching the fool about walking. If you had as muscular and perfect a physique as mine (which I know you all aspire to), would you risk it? Thus, it was necessary for me to show him how to do this properly. This is deeply frustrating for me, as I want to be able to walk my two-legger and enjoy a nice time in the countryside, not waste my time training the simpleton. However, when you work with small ears these trials are part and parcel of the affair. I am a big believer in tough love and learning through mistakes, so would allow him to make some initial gaffes. However, eventually I would arrive at a point where I could stomach his ineptitude no more.
Lunch Stop in Highlands
Like all the best teachers, I believe it is best to let your student work out the answer rather than tell them it. When we encountered the sort of ground no erudite donkey would cross I would simply stop, allowing My One With Two Legs time to find the answer. This he did not like at all. He would get angry, he would try to pull me across, he would say things to me that were I not a better bred and patient donkey I would take strong exception to. However, the two-leggers are but foals and not worth crediting with an emotional response, so I would fix him with a withering look. Once I had brought him to the truth, that he is an imbecile, I would then take charge and show him the proper way to do things.
This did not mean that I was completely happy with his progress. At the beginning of our travels I noticed that three times a day he would fill a round object, similar to what I drink from, and then proceed to graze from it. At first I paid this no mind, for what interest do I have in two legged affairs? However, after a time I became aware of delicious smells emanating from this object, ones far more interesting than those of my food that covers the ground. As I would come to investigate the contents of his grazing, he’d push me away. He would begin by pushing my head away with one of his strange, skinny front hooves. However, I am not easily deterred, and he would eventually have to hold me away with one of his hind legs while grazing with his front ones. The impertinence! This was not only rude beyond belief in itself but considering that I had kindly offered to carry his feed he could at least share the grazing. Sadly, while he is coming on well, I feel this a battle I’ll have to give up on as it would seem that two-leggers can also be “stubborn” (though I fail to see the danger in sharing the grazing)!
My One with Two Leg’s Stable
In order for me to enjoy walking My One With Two Legs it was crystal clear that I would have to establish a good daily routine for him. I soon became aware that two-leggers are inherently lazy and require a large amount of slumber unbroken by grazing. Therefore, I would allow him to sleep for around eight hours each night in a funny little stable that he has to put up and take down on a diurnal basis. As the two-leggers are also very weak and puny I very kindly offered to carry this for him as well as his feed. Once he has rested for long enough, I wake him and set him to graze while I eat my breakfast. When he has taken sufficient nourishment I get him to clean me. Being a handsome donkey and one that is much admired by other two-leggers (how could they not???) it is essential for me to appear well turned out and stylish at all times. His first job is to brush me. As the weather has turned warmer I have traded my heavier wardrobe for a cooler suit, more fitting to the climate and walking. This means his ministrations take less time but are still vital. Next, I have my daily pedicure – he cleans all my hooves by brushing the mud and food that has got underneath them. Then using a spikey thing he picks out any small stones that get caught in my feet. These can be uncomfortable and the relief when they are gone is very pleasurable. Then, once I am clean and comfortable he dresses me. I have a soft shawl that goes on my back, then he puts on a sort of basket made of the big, tall food. He calls this a “pack saddle”. This has a number of special ropes that go around different parts of my lithe but muscular figure. At first, back at my residence, these proved a trifle uncomfortable, so I was obliged to instruct him to make me some padding. It took him a number of weeks, but eventually he came back with some broadly acceptable strap-covers. Over the course of our journey I have also commanded him to make more of these for my head gear.
Stopping for a Rest
Once this is all in place I put on my backpacks. As I could not possibly expected to wear any off the shelf garments I commissioned a bespoke pair from my tailor, the very talented Leony Mayhew. These are necessary because, as I indicated earlier, the two-leggers are not very strong. So, as I am magnanimous in the extreme I have elected to carry his things. Given I am sturdily built and have a fine athletic frame this is no big issue for me, provided the idiot balances all our equipment properly. I have supplied him with a useful weight monitoring device, but as you can imagine he too frequently fails in this elementary task.
The Land of Two-Leggers’ Stables
With these lessons beginning to take hold, My One With Two Legs became easier to manage and I think he enjoyed our travels more, following my stern, but benevolent guidance. As a result our journey is now very pleasurable. I take My One With Two Legs to some beautiful places. In the first part of our adventure I lead (I actually let him go in front, so as to make him think that he is doing this of his own free will) us across moors, hills and rivers. When we arrive at a particularly interesting view I order My One With Two Legs to stop so that I can absorb this at my leisure. He seems to enjoy this too. Later on, the walking got less up and downy and we travelled through a large area of that weird two-leggers stabling; there were lots of small noisy carriages mysteriously moving along without any heroic four-leggers pulling them. Here the landscape was less interesting but there were many more of my adoring public. I had purposefully designed the walk so there was plenty of opportunity for the two-leggers to bask in my glory.
My Adoring Public
Every so often we encounter ones like me, and they come in two types: ones with ears like mine and ones with smaller ears. Of the former, though their ears are of an acceptable size they have pretensions of equality to me. However, as we all know, I am The Donkey so they are essentially inferior and I pay no attention to them. As for the latter, while their ears are ridiculously small (though not as small as My One With Two Legs) they have a certain dignity that I can relate to. I have known many of these ones like me with small ears and very much enjoy their company. When we encounter them I am very keen to converse, often call out and make My One With Two Legs facilitate introductions. I am often reluctant to move on after a chat but the two-leggers need their exercise.
Ones Like Me with Small Ears (Image credited to Daniel Nash)
My diet is excellent, and, in many places, food lies on the ground. Occasionally we come across delicacies like the spiky food with purple flowers. These require a gentle approach at first: I carefully get the flowers with the side of my mouth, but once bitten off I can chew at ease. I occasionally request the long orange rods from My One With Two Legs which I love. Similarly, I sometimes command him to present me with the red, round sweet things. These are too big to fit in my mouth at once, so I instruct him to hold them and I eat in bites. Given my fame, many of the other two-leggers we encounter know of my tastes and also bring me tribute in form of the orange rods and the round sweet ones.
Receiving Tribute from a Small Two-Legger
The only downsides to our adventure are the little biters and the drink that falls from the sky. For the sky drink I sent My One With Two Legs to buy (from my expense account) an extremely fashionable jacket. This jacket is both warm and keeps the drink from getting into my fur. Unlike the ones like me with small ears, when the drink gets in my fur it takes a long time to get out. This means that the moment the drink begins to fall from the sky I order My One With Two Legs to adorn me in my jacket. Furthermore, I made him buy one that was big enough to cover my bags so that his things did not get wet when we’re walking. I am sure I don’t need to highlight it, but given my readers have small ears I will: observe my benevolence and magnanimity.
An Acceptable Bed for the Night
The little biters are more of an issue. They come in various forms. Some bite you once and hold on tight. Others are bigger and like to live near to big bits of drink. These are the most painful but are not very common. The worst, and they really are the worst, are the tiny ones. In the places with the hills and food everywhere they come out at night and are relentless. They drive me mad. They get under my jacket, up my nose, and into my fur. Most of the time we sleep in places where I can walk around and roll, and this makes it easier to escape from them. However, occasionally we sleep where I cannot get away. When this happens, I ask My One With Two Legs to cover me with something that is like drink but tastes horrible. This stuff discourages the tiny biters but not completely. After nobly enduring their torments for a few nights I finally had to tell My One With Two Legs to get me a net for my head. This is like the one he wears, but has special tubes for my beautiful, long ears. Happily, as our journey goes on the little biters become less and less common.
Prepared for a Night of Tiny Biters
As the time goes by and the training takes effect I find myself liking My One With Two Legs more and more. At the start of his employment I very much viewed him as an indentured servant – someone who had job to perform for a specific purpose and a set amount of time. We had a standoffish relationship of master and slave. However, we have gotten to know each other better an affectionate bond has formed between us. As this level of trust has grown I have encouraged him to be more familiar. I have discovered that he really likes to hold my chin in his weird front hooves or in the bend in front legs. When he does this he also likes to then stroke my cheeks with his free hoof. While this may seem a touch debasing, allowing so inferior and degraded an animal this level intimacy with my flawless figure I have actually found it pleasurable (somewhat to my disgust). When I send him away to rest for a few days I begin to miss him. It is then very gratifying when he returns and comes directly to me. As I reflect on his character I have come to agree with my confederate Modestine (an admirable donkey who kept a small eared two-legger called Robert Louis-Stevenson under her benevolent despotism): his ears are those of his species, but his virtues are his own. When we finish our walk, I think I’ll keep him.
Bonding with My One With Two Legs (Image credited to Daniel Nash)