Mar 05

THE FT TOP 25 ANIMALS – 11. Sheep

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“It’s sheep we’re up against!” trilled the Housemartins – has there been an animal which gets a worse recent press than the humble sheep? It’s almost a rite of passage for every gimp who fancies themselves as alternative: dust off the ancient metaphor and train both your limp barrels on the bleating forces of conformity. (An example: the worst headline in music press history, Steve Sutherland’s “SCENE AND NOT HERD”.)

It was not ever thus: when the ancient astrologers named a house of the Zodiac after the noble RAM* they were not sneering at one twelth of mankind for only buying Dido CDs. The fact is that aside from the odd moment of being chased by a dog into a pen (and aside from on the telly does this even happen any more), your average sheep – non-intensively farmed sheep, anyway – has a pretty good life. Nice big woolly coat in Winter, free haircuts in Summer, all the grass they can eat, the company of friends, harmonious parent-child relationships. I would say that the inscrutable face of a sheep hides a deep zen wisdom. There is the whole ‘being eaten’ aspect but hey, you have to go sometime.

*Though frankly as constellations go Aries is even more laughable than usual – nobody is going to convince me that ancient man didn’t know a triangle when he saw one. Maybe he had the wool pulled over his eyes.

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