Dear Buddha… I’m writing to you today to ask a favour… as you know… are you all knowing? As you might know I’m not a man for organized religion… but I can’t believe that if you supernatural types are keeping an eye on us that you wouldn’t awfully mind if we just got on with things and were just… well, nice to each other. Surely the possibility of an all powerful God who leaves his subjects to have a torrid time is about as possible as some sort of magical device you can carry around in your pocket that receives telegrams, can play gramophone records and be used like some sort of receptacle to speak to acquaintances to arrange soirees. I digress chubby chops… you see I was wondering if you aren’t too busy by the time I kick the bucket that you could possibly see to it that I could be reincarnated as a sort of animal… a pen-tailed tree shrew to be exact.
The pen-tailed tree shrew is the biggest non-Scotch drinker on the planet. Of course the biggest boozer on the planet is the McPen-tailed tree shrew but that is another story. Incredible wee drunkard this fellow is too. He is about the size of a small rat and remarkably manages to hoof down the equivalent of twelve glasses of wine every single night. In fact that is all he ever ‘eats’, still he doesn’t seem to be too badly effected by going at it every night.
Upon ruminating on the concept one is sure you will be as aghast as one’s self in working out that it really can’t be that good an idea if you’re a teeny tiny tasty bite-sized beastie to get absolutely hammered every eve. Predators would have the time of their lives… who wouldn’t on the concept of self-marinating meals. Indeed one of the very few studies in alcohol intake in animals looked at boozing in fruit bats and whether they liked to eat fermenting fruit… they don’t… and although one finds it very hard to comprehend, they’re not silly buggers “a drunk bat is a dead bat” as one of the researchers pointed out.
The pen-tailed tree shrew on the other hand frequents a rather affable tree, the Bertram palm, whose buds harbour a type of yeast. In the bud the nectar and yeast ferments producing an alcoholic beverage. It is not just the pen-tailed tree shrew that has discovered this rainforest pub, in fact seven species of beastie make regular trips to the plant. It is just our little shrew friend who is always there, the animal equivalent of the Pilkington-Smythes and the local pub.
The tree isn’t daft of course, it doesn’t attract a gaggle of boozy animals to carouse around it and keep it awake all night for nothing, as these little lushes act as pollinators. The bertram palm and the pen-tailed tree shrew have been living this happy relationship for nigh on 55 million years… yes quite… the longest bender in history.
Of course man has long been boozing too, some of the earliest writings refer to the production and distribution of beer, such as the “Hymn to Ninkasi” a prayer to the goddess of beer… hmm might need a quick rethink on this organised religion thing… there is even evidence of the preparation of a brew from the Stone age, in the past it was a handy way to get some liquid and not drinking a load of horrible beasties, indeed most people would drink it all day. I even have it on good authority that Queen Victoria was partial to a pint or two of a morning.
One final note; the pen-tailed tree shrew is remarkably similar to the first primate… our earliest ancestor… so it may just well be that we are all in some way reincarnated from a rather smashing little boozer.