Boobies… we at The Proceedings love boobies… big boobies… small boobies… brown boobies… boobies; a genus of seabirds in the Sulidae family.
Oh you thought… no, sorry… though you might want to ask the Major about his collection of anthropological etchings. Of course we are talking about the rather enchanting sea bird from the Pacific. Their name is of course rather rude… yes as you suspected it is a bastardization of an old Spanish naval slang for a half-wit or clown. Naturally among sailors these affable birds were really rather popular. They would comically drop in to say ‘how do you do’ on ships that were mid-voyage. What sailor couldn’t be taken in by this birds comical looks, bold as brass personality, waddling gate… and of course being a hell of a lot tastier than a biscuit full of weevils and a flask of your own urine can’t have done much to decrease their charisma.
Though it’s not for any of these reasons that this smasher is propelled into The Proceedings. It’s actually because of his poo…. and to be fair the poo of a couple of his chums; the Peruvian cormorant and the Peruvian pelican… a triumvirate of the most important pooers the world has ever seen.
The Incas are of course famous for building cities of gold that are even more difficult to find than a monogamous Frenchman. What is less lauded is their love of bird poo. The Inca revered the islands of fertilizer and anyone who disturbed the holy birds were subject to the death penalty. The Inca, in their native Quechua, referred to this white stinky gold as ‘wanu’. The Spanish of course, not happy with merely oppressing the natives, felt they should also spray them with spittle… so changed the name to ‘guano’.
Of course it wasn’t just the natives that thought the poo rather smashing. Step forward the great poo rush of the 1800’s. Fortunes were born from the bums of seabirds. In 1858 alone Great Britain imported 300,000 tonnes of Peruvian guano, mainly for growing turnips. The British Empire pretty much ran the whole guano empire, rather annoying our American chums, and indeed it became US law that if an American found an island full of bird poo he was allowed to keep the entire island… as long as he sent all that poo back to the US.
Between 1840 and 1880 the Peruvian guano boom was at its highest height. Twenty million tonnes were exported earning the country two billion dollars, indeed the president of Peru was said to be more important than the president of the United States at the time. Sadly, with all the business acumen of Jack on his way to market, he thought a windfall of two billion dollars not enough to bolster his country’s coffers and promptly took out a number of crippling loans. Of course wars soon broke out over the precious poo, resulting in a number of bloody wars culminating in poor blooming Bolivia being the only landlocked country with an active navy… and it wasn’t just Bolivia that was left in a right bloody mess. No, I’m not talking about the ‘islas de la poo’ either. It’s often cited that many of South Americas woes are because of this financial mismanagement of such a precious early resource.
All of which of course the daft bugger the booby, and indeed his poo, is utterly oblivious to.
Of course we’d like to finish the Proceedings tonight by saying that of course our educational body is based in the heart of the British Empire, and we’d like to add that we, unlike the blasted Spanish, would never do such a wonderful bird the injustice of giving it such a silly name. No… no… no… it would take a right bunch of tits to do that.