Friday, 19 October 2018

Scapegoats



"When a goat likes a book, the whole book is gone.”

I need a scapegoat and in my case it is the goat. The microbiology lab here at Barts hospital has concluded that the bug which got into my heart valve – the bovine (cow) valve which was fitted here in February, is of the Equine Streptococcal strain. So we have cows, horses and now, my theory albeit unbacked by evidence – goats. I spent a month last summer with my Bosnian family at their home outside Mostar. After I met Anne on the Croatian island of Mljet I picked up a virus which lasted until my stroke five weeks ago. There were no horses on the island but the lab has said that other animals share 99% of their DNA.
There are goats in the area, some of them once owned by the family we stay with. See Anne Aylor's film about their goats here,  (at 4.10 mins) But that was some years ago and the goats have long since taken themselves up into the surrounding woods and hills. 
But back in Mostar there are goats-a-plenty. They are on the hillside at the end of Oha and Masa Maslo's garden where I stay when I am there. (Oha is Director of Mostar Rock School) Twice a day a goat-herder walks his animals slowly across my eyes. I hear their bells before I see them emerge from the trees onto the sage-covered rocks. Even when I can't see them I hear their bells as I sit on the terrace which faces onto a garden full of cherry, pomegranate, figs and walnut trees. Wildflowers in the nearby field attract Cleopatra butterflies, Plain Tigers and a profusion of Simple Whites. Bees from Masa's hives buzz in and out from the sage bushes the goats feed from. The hill rises up to Mount Velez and we seem to be at the base of a bowl, in a hidden valley which induces a feeling of remoteness, peace and isolation.
Of course this is all an illusion. The herder is a refugee from central Bosnia, eking out a subsistence living with the help of his animals. The hillside is still peppered with mines. The wildflowers in that field are there because the family who owned the land fled when the area was under bombardment.
I see and hear the goats, but's that's it. But the two Maslo dogs are free-range and spend time on the hillside. For sure they must tread through goat detritus. Lovely dogs, they jump up to greet me whenever possible and it is possible that they brought me the streptococcal. 
But are the goats to blame for my hospital stay? Of course not. I am to blame for not building up my immune system after the February operation. I won't make the same mistake again. I have been told that the Russian military developed Neuropeptide Bioregulators that are great as immune builders. So I will move east of the Balkans and seek help from the Russians. Then it will be back to sitting on the Maslo terrace, waiting for the goats.

Here's a goat refusing to be a scapegoat

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