Five Things You Should Know Before You Marry a Biologist.

Please excuse the deafening silence. MM has hardly touched the ground over the last two weeks. Service will be back to normal soon. Or as normal as it gets around here.

If you have fallen for the charms of a biologist and you’re thinking about spending the rest of your life with him or her, here are a few things to consider before you say “yes”.

1. Biologists can get attached to the species they study. 

This is illustrated by the fact that like any other housewife, I said good morning to the Daltons this morning as I passed their tank. The Daltons are our snakes. Snakes are not cute or cuddly, and don’t get attached to you in any way (apart from wrapping themselves around your arm). Whilst other housewives brush their Westies and give the rabbit a carrot, I pick up snake poo and defrost mice. As I dangled dead rodents over the Daltons’ heads, it occurred to me that the plumber is coming this week to deal with the burst pipe beside their tank. I’d have to check if he was scared of snakes before I let him in. I often forget that the Daltons are there, and realise too late that my visitor is velcroed to the wall several feet behind me, eyes wide with terror as he or she points a quaking finger at the tank.

 "MM resolved to be clearer the next time PF asked her what she wanted him to bring back from his travels.  Rex certainly kept the children quieter than the stuffed toy she had ordered."

“MM resolved to be clearer the next time PF asked her what she wanted him to bring back from his business trip. However, it had to be said that Rex was certainly better at keeping the children quiet than the stuffed lion she had ordered.”

2. Biologists are a fountain of knowledge about nature. 

… and will willingly spout about it if you ask. It’s not just a job, it’s a 24/7 passion – and it’s infectious. A family visit to a zoo or a natural history museum requires rations for a week, camping gear and sleeping bags because PF explains the life cycle, knicker size and favourite TV programmes of every beast we clap eyes on. Any of you who have seen the wonder in a child’s eyes as they see a butterfly emerging from its cocoon should imagine a grown-up man doing the same. PF regularly runs in from the garden, muttering under his breath, and bombs back out with my camera. A cicada’s entry into the world last year seemed almost as fascinating to him as the birth of his own offspring.

3. Biologists never switch off. 

They read scientific articles in bed, correct their students’ exam papers at the kitchen table, and manage to find the only two hour-long TV documentary about traffic management in travelling dung beetle communities. Like little kids, they will find the remains of an insect during a family walk and insist on wrapping it carefully in a paper hanky and bringing it home to find out what it is. If it is unusual or rare, expect it to take pride of place on the kitchen window sill. Your biologist will only remember it once you have entrusted it to its final resting place in the kitchen bin. Childbirth is an event that is too cool for words – on top of the new daddy emotion, PF also got to see a placenta and umbilical cord, for realBiologist daddies don’t just cut the cord. They carefully inspect it when the nurse is looking the other way.

4. Biologists’ children inevitably get bitten by the bug.

I finally got my salad spinner back yesterday after my children hijacked it for use as a temporary hotel for a gang of huge, homeless tadpoles. Having a biologist parent can also cause problems at school: Little My went off her biology teacher recently when she told the class that all cells have a nucleus. Little My begged to differ, and the teacher laughed at her. No doubt eyeing her teacher as if she was an overripe heap of camel dung, Little My informed her that eukaryotic cells have a nucleus, but prokaryotic cells don’t. I suspect that my daughter’s homework will be handled like live ammunition from now on.

If the tadpoles survive, I'll have a good stock of potential Prince Charmings.

If our tadpoles survive, this is what they will turn into. I’ll have a good stock of potential Prince Charmings this year.

5. Biologist “business trips” are unlike all others.

Husbands in films go on business trips. They call from a tastefully decorated designer bedroom in a high-tech hotel somewhere in the vibrant centre of the business vortex to reassure their perfectly manicured spouses (usually prowling around their bedrooms wearing lipstick and cougar nighties) before going out to sign a corporate deal. They return home with perfume, silk underwear and Belgian chocolates.

For a biologist’s spouse, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Forget Richard Gere, and imagine a hybrid of Richard Attenborough and Man Friday. The last time PF went away, he eventually called me from an island lost somewhere off the African coast. I was clad in my Bob the Builder dungarees and was attacking the sewer from hell with my latest weapon, caustic soda (my eternal thanks to my hero, Papounet, whose miracle remedy has saved me from getting covered in raw sewage and paying huge fees to the local plumber). PF babbled enthusiastically about his hut on stilts boasting all mod cons (running cold water, a noisy fan and a mosquito net), mud, mangroves, crabs, baobab trees, multi-coloured geckos, fruit bats the size of seagulls and sandwich-stealing lemurs. Then told me he had to run – he was invited out for a meal beside the lagoon. Ok, honey, shit happens (in our house, whilst he’s away). He’d come home eventually – with a fridge magnet, sea shells, soggy, cast-off crab exoskeletons to put on the window sill, and a toy lemur. Cos that’s the way we roll.

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Let’s change the picture….

I decided to do something a bit different today, and post my latest photography efforts. Those who follow the blog on a regular basis may remember that I won first prize in a writing competition recently. I thoroughly recommend getting yourselves over to the Expats Blog to read up on expats throughout the world, and exercise your writing talents without restraint in their two-weekly competitions.

After much hesitation about what to do with the prize vouchers, I decided on a lens for Candide the camera. I have been trying my hand at macro photography ever since – here are my first baby steps….

 

Nesting and migration in the lesser-spotted boob.

Driving down the motorway yesterday on my way to the nearest metropolis, I flicked on the radio. As usual, it was tuned into my children’s favourite station, NRJ.  As I tailed along behind a lorry, the garrulous and entertaining Manu informed his listeners that he had discovered a blog.

“Whoopee”!! I thought. A fun blog address where we can check out something cool, like the breathtakingly exciting adventures of an Inuit Eskimo hunting in sub-zero temperatures, dressed in caribou skin undies and armed with no more than a hand-sharpened teaspoon and a rubber band. But the blog in question was that of a Spanish young lady who takes a photo of her cleavage and publishes it every day.

Booby Trap in a hotel room?

Somebody has already written the book. Dammit, Janet. (Photo credit: firepile)

I am not going to start beating my breast about booby blogs – each to his or her own. I did however wonder what written content can go with these photos. Maybe the author had written about the history of the bosom, investigated the social importance of the maternal breast, examined the impact of Jane Birkin’s ironing board and Lolo Ferrari’s airbags on their respective careers, or written a titillating (ar-hum) off-beat story about her mammaries entitled “A Tale of Two Titties”, “Bosom Buddies”, or “Booby Trap”. Had she posted something interesting or fun alongside the photo of her cleavage?

Google translate was formal: the written content was a recipe combining breasts (presumably not chicken), slices of chorizo sausage and potatoes. Fun for some, but maybe not sufficiently thrilling content to captivate hoards of followers for long.

I have therefore written an alternative post for her next cleavage photo, to be read out loud à la Richard Attenborough. So here goes. Drum roll, please….. My apologies to my parents, who are muttering “she’ll never change” and reaching for their dark glasses and balaclava helmets.

Nesting and migration in boobus mammarius.

The lesser-spotted boobus mammarius, commonly known as the boob, is a parasite that develops during early human adolescence. Couples remain faithful throughout life, and fix themselves to the upper part of the female human anatomy (henceforth referred to as the host) where they slowly develop until reaching maturity.

Boobs come in all sizes, and for reasons unknown to womankind they do not seem to follow the rule of symmetry. Thus, one is generally observed to be plumper than the other. Further research is necessary to establish whether this size difference entails the dominance of one boob over the other in decision-making situations such as migration.

Nesting

Boobs nest in a lace-lined contraption provided by the host, commonly called a bra. The nest can also be referred to in host language as an over-shoulder boulder holder, an upper-decker, a double-barrelled slingshot or a flopper stopper.

Candy

Nesting boobs in their natural habitat. In this case, the host has attempted to retain them using candy as a bait. Note dominant boob on right. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is thought that this high altitude nesting site was chosen by the first generations of boobs in a bid to stay out of the reach of their most ferocious predator, handus mannus (commonly called “The Hand” in host language). This species generally prowls at night, preying on innocent boobs as they sleep. Fortunately, the host provides round-the-clock protection and has been observed to be unusually aggressive in a bid to provide safe haven for her protégées.

Unexpected movements of the female host, such as running to save screaming offspring, can occasionally result in boobs falling out of their nests. The host’s aid is necessary for them to regain safe haven, as the boob is only capable of downward movement (see migration, below).

Like many other parasites, they return the favour to their host in the form of basic functions. These include attracting a mate, feeding any offspring, and serving as a decoy to attract attention whilst the host’s eyes convey a message to a third party.

Migration

Like the bald eagle, boobs are monogamous. They therefore begin their slow migration south together after approximately forty years of faithfulness to their nesting site. There is still a hot debate over why boobs migrate south, and three main schools of thought have appeared. One theory suggests that migration is the boob equivalent of retiring to the Costa Brava after their numerous years of loyal service. Other researchers propose a socio-economic argument, namely that boobs migrate in a bid to join their distant relative, biggus bottomus, whose more generous proportions and wider horizons may tempt less realistic boobs southwards for a better lifestyle. Another theory describes the irresistible pull of gravity; this appears to be the most plausible explanation to date.

cleavage

Migrating boobs. (Photo credit: DMWCarol)

Boob migration unfortunately occurs at a time where the host has become dependent on her companions. She therefore attempts to delay migration by nourishing them with expensive creams and tempting them with a luxury nest known as the Wonderbra. However, the drawback of this method is that it also attracts any handus mannus roaming in the area. Despite these baiting efforts, boobs generally escape at nightfall and continue their slow, imperceptible migration south.

Sadly, after decades of excruciatingly slow progress, few boobs successfully cross the dreaded Checkpoint Bellybutton on the waistline frontier, and many give up the fight. Unlike salmon, they are unable to return to their birthplace, and are forced to set up a new nest in the arid wastelands of the belly region. Further studies could investigate the new techniques they develop to survive in this new, more oxygenated climate.

Disclaimer: To clear up any confusion, none of the boobs pictured here are mine.