When taking high tea with a camel,
Be careful, you shouldn’t upset
This most anti-social of mammals –
You wouldn’t want one as a pet.
His manners are frankly appalling,
His personal hygiene is low
And if he should sit at your table
There is something you really should know.
When asking ‘Do you take sugar?’
– And, surprisingly, some camels do –
You should always take care not to snigger
When querying ‘One lump of two?’
Like everybody else that has ever been on holiday to Egypt or Tunisia, I have ridden camels. They are smelly, uncooperative, uncomfortable and unevenly tempered – it is like riding a history teacher. Only 6% of the world’s camels have two humps (Bactrian – including the critically endangered Wild Bactrian) whilst the remaining 94% have only one (Dromedary) – balanced, presumably, by a chip on the shoulder. The camel’s hump (or humps) does (or do) not contain water (they carry that in a recyclable bottle in their backpack) but actually contain fat that metabolises very rapidly into water when the animal is unable to drink (think fat-free mayonnaise). A camel’s faeces is so dry that the Bedouins are able to burn it without further drying – although it still, presumably, smells of burning shit and almost certainly explains the lack of appetite for toasted marshmallows in Bedouin culture. A camel’s eyes and nostrils are designed to keep out wind-borne sand and its thick coat keeps it cool (much like a Parka in the 90’s). Its feet are especially designed to stop the heavy beast sinking into shifting sands and its toes are uniquely shaped to give teenage boys something to titter about. They mate whilst sitting down – something we have all attempted to do at the back of the cinema back in the day. Evolution has turned the camel into one of the most incredible, biologically adapted creatures in the natural world – but they remain deeply unpleasant and they still smell of old socks…