Giraffes – four of them.

th-3I have a number of mental snapshots that feature giraffes – four memories to be precise.

I’m in the back of Dad’s car and he’s driving. Mum is in the passenger seat. We’re at a wildlife park somewhere in England, but I can’t remember which. Dad has his window open. A giraffe lopes towards the car and leans in. He licks Dad’s face with his thick blue tongue.

I’m at Twycross Zoo with my older sister and her boyfriend. As we pass the giraffe enclosure, I see that one has an erection – an enormous, long, red erection – and he begins to mount another giraffe. My eyes are as big as dinner plates. My sister’s boyfriend laughs so hard that he’s bent over and holding his stomach and my sister leads us away. She tells him to effing grow up.

Same zoo, years later, and I’m with some mates from school. We are inside the giraffe house. It stinks of dung and sweaty animal. A baby giraffe leans over the barrier and takes me by surprise. She licks my face with her thick blue tongue.

My daughter is in her green pushchair. We are mooching around Wellington Zoo on a Summer’s day. It is feeding time at the giraffe house. We go to watch. The keeper asks, ‘Does anyone know what colour a giraffe’s tongue is?’

‘Blue,’ I say.

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