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It was bound to happen. The Mom thinks I don’t read the papers back home (which is why she sends me a packet of clippings each week) but I do. Oh, I do. I just don’t read about the things she wants me to. I read the stranger bits and pieces. Like the bit about how the capybaras escaped from the zoo in Toronto’s High Park, like, four weeks ago now.

Seriously. These are essentially giant ginuea pigs. And nobody could catch them. Though, I think probably somebody could’ve done, it’s just that they didn’t want to because it’s kind of awesome that they escaped, and you know, they’re okay, not bothering anybody, and frankly they’re bringing much more joy to the citizens of Tornto whilst on the loose than they probably will when they’re kept in a cage.

I think the only natural local predator is The Hipster and they’re mostly vegetarian (except for bacon, but capybaras aren’t where bacon comes from). And I think it’s been the wild Hipsters who have been aiding and abetting the capys which makes me loathe them (the Hipsters) much less than I would normally do.

As I’m coming home in August for my traditional Canadian time-out, and will be spending a few days in the city of my youth, I had imagined – frequently, and with a great level of detail – how I might make myself known to the wild capybaras, so that we could become friends. I have never really gone camping but I think I would make an exception if the capybaras invited me to their camp.

We could do all sorts of nice things, sing songs, read, swim in the pond, sunbathe, I mean, it’s essentially like staying at The Mom’s but with no Wifi. Though, this being Toronto, I’m sure we could get a signal somewhere. High Park isn’t exactly the back and beyond. It has a subway stop.

I’ve been following the exploits of the capybaras on Twitter and they’re fantastic. They’ve been openly taunting the CBC and their keepers. And the thing is, they’re not super quick these creatures. Leisurely. Super chill. They’re not dissimilar to many of Toronto’s residents: they seem a little bit high most of the time.

What I really think has taken my interest in these particular creatures is that this, to me, symbolises Toronto. It’s always tricky to explain Canada to people who’ve never been there. To explain why we don’t find it weird that there’s a t-shirt with our Prime Minister on a unicorn, to explain poutine, and our love of maple syrup. But that doesn’t quite capture the essence of Canada. It’s just not weird enough. But our weird is this sort of quite chilled out, whatever is cool with me as long as you don’t bother me, kind of vibe. It’s tricky to put your finger on, especially when you’re in situ. Things that happen in Toronto do not happen in other places. People do not unite in the common love of escaped giant rodents, and then go on to taunt the capitol city about their sinkhole using the same giant escaped rodent. It’s like somebody forgot to tell Canada we don’t have to audition for a student film.

At any rate, according to Twitter, one of the capys has been caught, which was sad for me. I’d hoped that they’d be friend the local beaver population and then soon Toronto would be awash in local, native, wild capybaras. Sadly, it’s not to be.

So I’ve had to add to my collection of weird internet animals that I like. Thankfully, Monique the hen turned up. She and her French-companion, are sailing the world together. They’ve been to Greenland. Monique, the hen, stood on a glacier, an iceberg, and went sledding. They have their own YouTube channel. To say I’m charmed doesn’t come close. I’m suggesting to my friend, the literay agent, that she get in touch with them immediately to sell the rights to their story which maybe, if I was really lucky, I could ghost write. I’d do it for free, as long as I got to meet the hen, who seems totally cool. I mean, she skateboards.

As for The Mom’s inability to understand why I latch on to these things, well, there’s the fact that I’m a novelist and have always had a rich imaginary life, and then there’s the fact that the world Out There, on the rest of the internet, is filled with so much vile hate that sometimes the only thing you can do is retreat to your imaginary world of fun, funny and wacky animals and hope that the vile bits will just go away.

*NB: This post was meant to have been added on Friday, but Brexit happened and everything went a bit pear-shaped. Apologies.

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