Thursday, 7 January 2010
Twisted Scene in Lime Bar
‘Every dog has his day- but the nights are reserved for cats.’
2007. Just off Manchester’s King St, surrounded by uber-expensive clothes shops that a lessening number of people can afford, sits Lime Bar- a trendy, urbanite watering hole for yuppie bankers and whoever else finds themselves straying from the beaten tracks of Deansgate or Peter St.
It was the first time I’d seen Tom since he left to start his Naval career in Plymouth. He’d been texting me with details of his training- a camping expedition in Wales, a promotion within the first couple of weeks and a jump out of a Sea King helicopter for a rescue drill. I was tempted to apply myself.
After intense training, Tom told me, he was given some basic survival equipment and dumped somewhere in the 368 square miles of Dartmoor- the most barren part of Devon. He put his training to the test, gathering whatever he could find and assembling a bivouac.
Night fell. It was freezing under the expanse of stars, the makeshift wood shelter proving a stark contrast to the concrete Naval barracks. Despite the celestial glow, the land of Dartmoor was an impalpable expanse. Below the horizon line, there was nothing but black. He was truly alone.
Or at least it seemed.
A mere 50 metres away, two white dots, glowing in the blackness, traversed the land with a slight bounce, a rhythm. Something was looking Tom right in the eye.
Dartmoor is famous for its big cat sightings. In the late 90s the papers were awash with stories of livestock having their throats ripped out, blood-curdling roars being heard in the night, and oversized paw prints being found in muddy land.
‘The BBCS report reveals that 2,123 sightings of big cats were reported between April 2004 and July 2005.’- British Big Cats Society (britishbigcats.org)
Legendarydartmoor.co.uk also sheds light:
'I have seen ponies and sheep with their throats torn out down by Dendles Wood... It is thought that the introduction of the 1976 Dangerous Animals Act was a contributing factor in the appearance of the big cats. The act required any owner of such an animal to obtain a license from the local authorities and ensure it was kept in secure conditions. Some owners did not or could not obtain the licenses and so simply released the animals in the wild. It is not known whether any of them actually bred or how many survived in their new environments but sightings regularly occur.'
Tom is not the kind of guy to get scared. I’ve never seen him that way. But when he described being in such close proximity to a lethal animal, he admitted to me- ‘I shit it, mate.’
The cat didn’t stop. It just disappeared into the dark as quickly as it had emerged.
I don’t blame Tom for freezing in fear at the sight of one of Britain's most lethal animals, roaming the same wildernass as him unrestrained. Even I needed a piss after a story like that.
The urinals of the bar, on the lower ground floor, are true to theme- Lime coloured, backlit and glowing. Water cascades down them like some kind of neo-waterfall themed convenience, a testament to adept modern hygiene.
The stairwell leading to this was in a similar state of cleanliness when I descended it. But on emerging from the gents I found that someone had violently vomited all over the corridor walls and floor, as if they’d performed some kind of bizarre pirouette puke. At the top of the stairs I found the culprit looking pale and sheepish.
His throat was still intact.