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The other day, a penguin showed up at St Paul’s tent settlement

wearing a sign around his neck that said: “Occupy Antarctica”. We

gathered round him: he was the first of his kind to join them. When

passers-by congratulated him on his commitment to the cause, the

penguin asked for some fish first. He then turned the board

around. On the other side it said:  “Pingens R Dreemers 2” showing

the limits of penguin palaver. He explained how he’d come to join

the movement: his home ice shelf had been acquired in the course

of a financial speculation. No, he didn’t understand the details, and

after interrogating some London traders he didn’t think that they

understood what they were doing either. Somehow, the shelf was

acquired by a rich resident of Tuvalu. But isn’t that in the Pacific

Ocean, someone asked. Yes, said the penguin, so it is. Which would

mean that the ice would simply melt, right. Yes, said the penguin, it

would. Having lost their land, the penguin’s family and the family

of his family and their families, the whole dendritic tribe, were

dispersed all over the world. One of my cousins, said the penguin,

works as a banker now, he said: he’s specializing in trading

endangered currencies against endangered species. That’s a

completely new area of creative finance, he explained. The

penguin said that he was crashing at his cousin’s place and that he

had a part-time job as a receptionist at the Ritz. The natural tuxedo

came in handy, he said. The protesters were flocking towards

other newcomers now. Undisturbed, I watched the penguin for a

while as he stood there, alone now, his beak going in this direction

and that, his unblinking eyes checking out the humans and their

concerns around him, until he finally settled down and stared at

his feet. They weren’t happy.

#46/1000. © Marcus Speh. Photo: Cape Denison, penguin after blizzard. Life here continues in spite of winds exceeding 320 km/h. Frank Hurley, 1911-1914. Source: State Library of New South Wales.

2 years ago
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