Sunday, 29 July 2007


I don’t know how you feel about cloning, but I’m not too fussed. It sounds a bit un-natural, anti-nature, and downright scary.

Do we really want a woolly mammoth – and who has got a cage large enough to keep him in, I ask - and surely, once there are five thousand and one Wollombi pines, they won’t be so rare after all. Now, I’m not going to get into a discussion with you about it, it just hurts my head to think of it, but I think as far as the cloning thing goes, there’s a big fuss being made about the difficulties, and I have proved – scientific people, sit up and listen! – that its not that hard.

Of course, I have only the vaguest and haziest idea about cloning, but its something like resurrection – in the case of the mammoth anyway – isn’t it?

Well, I’ve made the first step I think, and that’s the big break through. But I find it scary, because its happening in my own bathroom. My bathroom is starting to take on a life of its own, as you’ll know if you read my blog ‘Foaming Will Occur’. Strange things are happening there, and I’m not too fussed about them either.

At the end of my bath is a little shelf section that was totally bare. Now we all know, girls, don’t we, that blank spaces are an anathema. If a space is blank, it should have something on it. So, on my nice white bare space, I carefully placed a glazed clay frog from China. He’s beautiful – I know hes a reptile type thing, and you’ll know I hate reptiles if you read my blog about the geckoes – but hes ‘dead’, for goodness sake, and therefore can’t harm me. He’s also a frog with attitude. He just has something about his stance – well, how would you describe a frog’s posture? – and the tilt of his head. But I digress.

I also have a black and white shell placed there - its most beautifully and geometrically marked, and goes so well with my angular and geometric black and white bathroom.

Then I have a small white glazed rectangular dish, with a little wooden frame in it, on which sits a gorgeous lavender soap, complete with embedded lavender seeds, and tied around with a raffia tie. Men, I know, if my husband is anything to judge by, with be throwing their hands in the air by this time. Raffia ties, indeed!

Then I have two dried white starfish, and a big plastic bottle of kid’s bubble bath, strawberry pink, and with a koala on the label!

See, all so, so tasteful. And all so, so necessary.

Well, it’s the star fish that are being cloned. One of them anyway. I don’t know what the laws are where these decorative star fish are gathered and prepared to be sold to people like me, who walk into a shop, and see a dead starfish, and say ‘Oh, I must have that.’ (I must have that, regardless of cost, that is). However, the laws must allow the collection of these things, and someone has worked out cleverly how to dry them and give them a sort of white powdery coating – very stylish.

Anyway, the other night I had a bath and as I got out I realised that somehow in my splashing and enthusiasm I had knocked one of the starfish into the bath. How long it had been there, lurking in the water behind me, I have no idea. If I had touched it we would have had a second bump in the ceiling to rival the one caused by the gecko’s dead foot (see my The Tale and Foot of the Gecko blog for an explanation as to how the first dent appeared).

I retrieved the star fish, did not think one more thing about it, until the next day I noticed that the creature had grown eyes! I kid you not! On his ‘head’ – that’s the top part of him, where there are five little bumps, or nodules – I noticed that two (two!) of the nodules had distinct dark pupils! Now, they weren’t just at randomly placed nodules, but on two adjacent nodules, and just where you would have drawn them, should you have been inspired to put a face on this long dead creature.

The eyes sort of seemed to look at me, a bit myopically, as I guess things from under the water usually view the world. Hmmmmm, I said to myself, and very wisely told no one.

The next day the eyes seemed even more intent, and furthermore, the dusty white coating, with which he had been imbued prior to sale, had gone, and he was a soft golden sandy colour. Hmmm, hmmm, I said.

But, the following day he was even darker. He’s starting to come back to life, I thought. To myself. I don’t think he’s like one of those apparently dead frogs they find in a hole in a tree that has long grown over, and then suddenly the frog revives, or even like those fish that live in the sand, and burst into life when the rains come. Oh no, this fellow had been dried, and treated, and probably fumigated as he came through Customs, and had lain dormant for ever so long. He was well and truly – well – DEAD.

Not any more. You see I know this, because the following day I found he had edged closer to the other starfish on my bathroom shelf. The other starfish is a different species, quite obviously, with a very tiny ‘head’, and long thin elegant legs. Still, I guess there’s comfort in something that looks remotely like you do.

I can tell you’re snickering – a very nasty habit – but I swear its true. Although, I do confess, nothing further has happened, and the little starfish still sits there, near the Chinese frog and the koala bubble bath, looking a little bemused and a bit lost. However, I’m sure all the scientists need to do now is find that next magical step, or add something to the bath water, or whatever, and the mysteries of cloning will be all explained. I mean, the proof is there – right in my bathroom.

© Nelma Ward

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