This was not the only time I came up to Plantation House. Other times I had an appointment with a much more aged inhabitant than the governor. Out on the grassy meadow below Plantation House live three tortoises. the oldest of which was Jonathan, at the time over 175 years old, or so it was believed. Photographs taken in the late 1800s show him already at full size, and it is estimated to take about 50 years to reach that stage. The tortoises came from the Seychelles, and the reason why Jonathan and his friends ended up here are lost in the mist of time. Tortoises at one time were kept on board ships to be used as fresh meat – same as sea turtles. But others were given as gifts. I parked up on the roadside and crossed a stile to enter their paddock. They are hard not to miss and I could see them pottering around in some rough grass over the far side of the field. Treading carefully between the enormous piles of tortoise poo I reached the three of them – all within 20 feet of each other. Jonathan is easy to spot, he looks more weatherworn and pockmarked than the younger two. He was obviously aware of my presence but was not fazed by it – I was the latest in a steady stream of visitors he had dealt with over the centuries. He munched away at the grass in front of him while I took a few photos and, without much though, started talking to him. I thought about the things he must have seen, all the governors and parties, the festivals, the visitors gawping at him just like me. What a noble beast, what a rock of tradition and history. With that he let out an enormous fart and plopped his manure behind him as he moved on to another patch of grass.
Never rely on animals to give you metaphors for human culture.