Dear Herr Hippo von Lawn,As you can probably imagine, I have received some strange requests in my time but this one takes not only the milk and cookies, but the mince pie and brandy as well!
I was wondering if you could give me any advice on how to satisfy this little girl’s request as, having checked her records, I note she is an exceptionally good little girl.
Sehr Geehrter Sankt Niklaus!
Long time no hear!
We hippos, especially the pigmy or dwarf kind (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis) are an extremely endangered species, and are incredibly difficult to look after in captivity (just ask Marcia, my wife).
As we are easily bored, we get up to all sorts of mischief and are very clumsy round the house although we can, with a lot of patience, be more or less toilet trained. I am fifty four but still miss the toilet bowl but am nevertheless proud I learnt to stand on two legs, but I am sure you understand with front legs as short as mine in relation to my body length and girth, I am always shooting blind.
Male Pigmy Hippos, like their larger cousins, are extremely territorial. They will tolerate females and love children but are extremely aggressive towards fellow males of any species unless the interlopers approach very slowly exhibiting all the signals of subservience (heads low avoiding eye contact, that sort of thing). Human males especially tend to march straight into my territory, heads held high, stare me in the eye and try to grab my paw and shake it and then hug my wife and give her a kiss. No wonder we hippos are considered the most dangerous creature in Africa and so many of my extended family have gored human males.
The lack of manners displayed by the average human would make it awkward for the little girl’s parents to enjoy any kind of social life at home. The hippo would attack the male dinner guests and try to hump the female ones. You did not give the age of the little girl but from the timbre of her delightful voice, I suspect she is still of an age where it would be better for her to learn the facts of life from the birds and bees, or later on her natural parents, rather than a rutting hippo attempting to mount a wheelie bin. I make no apology. It is instinct, hard wired into us. We cannot resist wheelie bins and love barging them over and stamping them flat.
I know that you hate the idea of letting a child down but I honestly think you would be better off giving her and her parents air tickets to South Africa so that they can visit my newly born nephew, Harry.
Mit Freundlichem Gruss
Hippo von Lawn
PS: Please give my regards to my brother in law, Schwartze Peter and tell him Marcia misses him enormously and couldn’t you let him visit her more than just once a year?
PPS: Land on the roof, there’s snakes in the garden.
At this time of the year, Angola cannot afford to pay its bills. The government will give priority to paying it's bloated civil service and ignore such international bills as telecommunications uplinks, satellite bandwidth etc, and I am already experiencing a severe degradation to internet and telephone services. The seasonal rains usually knock out any surviving infrastructure. So, even though slightly premature, just in case we here go off line, please accept my best wishes to you all, thank you for reading me and all your sincere support throughout this last year and the years preceding. Whatever holiday it is you celebrate at the end of the year, I hope you enjoy it and I hope that whatever God you believe in goes with you.