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Can Terrible Puns Save Britain’s Loneliest Sheep?

A yarn about a sheep and a group meeting

By Brendan DonaghyPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
Can Terrible Puns Save Britain’s Loneliest Sheep?
Photo by Yoonbae Cho on Unsplash

A row has broken out over plans to rehome Britain’s loneliest sheep. The ewe, now named Fiona, was rescued on Saturday after being stranded for more than two years at the foot of cliffs in the Scottish Highlands. But an animal rights group says plans to rehome her to a farm park near Dumfries would make her a “spectacle.” Fiona is now in hiding after activists turned up at Dalscone FarmBBC News, 5th November 2023.

In a small front room somewhere in the Scottish Highlands, Archie settled himself in his armchair and cleared his throat. “As Chair of the Animal Rights Brigade Highland Chapter, I call this meeting to order. Firstly, a big thanks to Sarah for hosting tonight’s meeting and providing the tea and traybakes. Sarah, sitting on the settee, flashed a big ‘you’re welcome’ smile at the group. Now, do we have any apologies?”

Wally Gibson, Branch Secretary, was sitting next to Archie. A much older and taller man than the Chair, he looked decidedly uncomfortable perched on a red leather pouffe. The low seat meant his knees were almost up around his ears. “Amir can’t make it tonight. He’s protesting against the tree clearance for the new bypass.”

Archie frowned. “Good for Amir, but let’s not spread ourselves too thin, guys. I was outside Dalscone Farm on my own on Wednesday. The local rag described me as ‘the loneliest sheep’s loneliest protestor.’ Doesn’t do our credibility much good.”

The young man sitting beside Sarah on the settee leaned forward. “I agree. We need to flock together for these things.”

Archie nodded, oblivious to the pun. “Spot on, Jonty. Okay, looking at the agenda, we need a proper slogan for the campaign, and we need to think about our strategy. How do we stop them from turning Fiona into a public spectacle? In terms of a slogan, are we happy with the ‘Free Fiona’ placards we’ve been using up till now?”

“I don’t think we should be using those. I don’t think we should even be calling her Fiona.” All eyes turned towards the young woman sitting in the chair opposite Archie. Mouse didn’t usually talk much at these meetings. She didn’t usually talk much outside the meetings either.

Archie nodded encouragingly. “Could you say more about that, Mouse?”

Mouse pushed her elbows into the arms of the chair to lever herself into a more upright position. “This sheep isn’t a pet, so it shouldn’t be treated like one. By giving it a name, the media is turning this into a Disney story. They’re robbing a noble farm animal of its true dignity!”

Jonty leaned forward eagerly. “But they’re not pulling the wool over your eyes, eh Mouse?”

Archie seemed about to say something to him when Sarah spoke. “But what’s our slogan then? We can’t keep talking about ‘the sheep rescued from the bottom of the cliffs,’ can we?”

Archie stretched over and lifted a sticky marshmallow and chocolate traybake from the coffee table. “Mouse makes a good point, though. Wally, you’re the wordsmith. Any thoughts on an alternative slogan?”

Wally peered out from between his knees. “I was thinking about this last night. How about ‘From Isolation to Exploitation?’ It takes the media’s lonely sheep narrative and links it to our view that the petting zoo option is simply making a spectacle of her.”

Archie nodded enthusiastically. “Gets my vote. Everyone else happy with that?” There were murmurs of assent all around.

Mouse hitched herself up on her elbows again. “I also think we should be challenging the wider narrative surrounding this story.”

Archie stared at her. Twice in one meeting. He wondered if she was taking performance-enhancing drugs. “In what way, Mouse?”

“Well, media outlets are suggesting that the sheep is ‘in hiding.’ But sheep don’t go into hiding. They have hidden her, but the subtext of their message is that she’s under threat and needs to get away. From us. They’ve made us the big bad wolf of this story.”

Jonty saw another opportunity. “Media bastards. Or should that be baa-stards?” Once again, he got no reaction. He sat back, slightly deflated. “Wow. Tough crowd.”

Archie scratched his chin. He looked like he was mulling over Mouse’s point, but he was actually wondering why these points hadn’t occurred to him. “Good observation, Mouse. Thoughts, anyone?”

Sarah fiddled with her left earring. “We could push a counter-narrative in our press communications. We could start using the word ‘kidnapped,’ for example.”

Jonty sniggered. “That would be great if it was a goat.”

Sarah looked annoyed. “Have you anything constructive to add, Jonty, or are you just going to make silly puns all evening?”

Jonty started to reply, but Archie shushed him with a wave of his hand. “I like that, Sarah. Wally, could you take that away and flesh it out a bit? Wally scribbled a note on his pad. Now, about Saturday. They’re planning a photo op with Fi — the sheep at the petting zoo. We should be there to protest. I’m happy to drive. Who’s in — Wally?”

Wally shook his head. “Sorry, Archie, I’m supporting Amir at the bypass protest. Rumour is the bailiffs are coming in at the weekend.”

“Okay, Sarah?”

Sarah shrugged. “Double-booked, I’m afraid. The environmentalists want Mouse and me to picket the site of the proposed incinerator.” Mouse confirmed this with a nod.

Archie breathed in deeply. “Jonty?”

“Sorry, mate, I’m in Glasgow for a gig. Tickets bought and everything.”

Archie stood up. “I’m sorry to say it, but this group needs to take a long, hard look at itself. Once again, I’ll be standing alone looking…”

Sheepish?” Jonty was unable to keep the smirk off his face.

Archie lifted his coat and walked towards the door. “Screw you, Jonty. He stopped and turned. Screw E-W-E!”

HumorShort StorySatire

About the Creator

Brendan Donaghy

'Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man - there's your diamond in the rough.' Larry David

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Comments (2)

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  • Naveed 2 months ago

    . Amazing job! Keep up the outstanding work

  • Cleverly done... "We could start using the word ‘kidnapped,’ for example.” Jonty sniggered. “That would be great if it was a goat.”

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