Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Donkey Still Recovering

I was sat, as is my will, on my laptop drinking mocha in a cafe on Friday afternoon. A rare afternoon off and an opportunity to catch up with some writing – continuing with an increasingly epic monologue about the NHS and Clinical Care Psychosis – it’s a laugh a minute. Unfortunately I wasn’t catching up with writing as much as I’d hoped, I’d managed about an hour and a half of intense misery inducing drama, when, losing the will to life somewhat, i resorted to that bastion of time wasting brilliance facebook.

Yeah yeah Sam, facebook,’ I hear you cry, ‘we know all about facebook’, it’s not funny any more, that boat has passed you f**k-knuckle.” The image I have of you, dear reader, is of a member of an irate crowd carrying placards saying “stop it now you d**k”, and “rite sumthing gud”, both offensive and with questionable spelling.

But this isn’t about facebook, it’s about the article that caught my eye. “Cristiano Ronaldo sold to Spain for £150 Million” – WOW. Essentially the article was about how Portugal were alleviating their terrible debt problems by selling Ronaldo to Spain and that as an act of patriotism he was biting the bullet (or perhaps biting his £250k weekly fee, which presumably softened the blow) to play for Spain instead – inadvertently increasing his chances, of, well, winning something.

Sadly however this was an old April fools story, but it got me thinking about a story from the early nourties (around 2002), when, while working in Scarborough we came across the headline, yes HEADLINE, in the Scarborough Evening News of “Donkey Still Recovering”.

Now, what’s remarkable about this story is the complete lack of a story there was. A donkey had been attacked “brutally” by a Bull Mastiff and had needed stitches. But that had been some weeks ago. And the story wasn’t uplifting, otherwise it would have read “Donkey Recovered” or “Back in the Saddle”. Nor was it the opposite end of the happiness spectrum “Donkey fails to pull through” or “Donkey Dies – Kebab shops rejoice”. It was a non-story, nothing had happened other than a donkey which had been recovering was continuing. The real tragedy is that the SEN (Scarborough Evening News) chose this as a headline at all. I mean it makes you wonder, is there a huge amount of people who love donkey’s in Scarborough, perhaps they did some research and in the research one of the questions asked was “Do you like Donkeys?” Presumably that would be followed up with options “Yes”, “No”, “A Little Too Much” and “I’m in one now”. The SEN much have presumably have chosen this story above others too. Scarborough has a population of near 50,000, was there nothing better to talk about. It has a large and failing district hospital, no-one recovering there? Maybe they could have talked about the arts, the local economy, I don’t know, anything, but seriously, a donkey?

I was thinking about this and I realised that I miss small town living, I miss the Donkey Still Recovering stories. In Liverpool the headlines report epic events, not the mundane and is all the worse for it. I visit my girlfriend’s house and seek out the Wirral newspapers in search of those gems… Cities are great places to live, vibrant, exciting with loads going on, it’s just sometimes they need a good donkey story..