OUR days are numbered, all of them.
Even if you've just been born (in which case, well done for your ahead-of-the-curve reading ability) time's ticking. I'm in particularly cheery fettle today, you can tell. It's just so sad about Lonesome George, the last remaining Pinta Island tortoise.
His life was cut short at a youthful 100 years, the scraggy-necked old fella. Apparently giant tortoises can live to nearly 200. He was barely middle-aged.
I've followed George's life and loves with interest. He seemed like the kind of celebrity you could look up to. There he was carrying out his charity work (conservation, supporting his local economy) without self-seeking publicity. He just kept his head down, on the end of his 3ft neck.
He had the kind of fame only Big Brother hopefuls dream of and yet was never seen falling out of nightclubs with unsuitable ladies in the wee hours.
Perhaps if he had, though, he might not have become the last of a 10 million-year-old line.
Because that was George's problem. He didn't like the ladies. Was he gay, shy, uninterested or impotent? No-one knows, though he reportly had great affection for Fausto Llerena, his caretaker, who found his remains on Sunday lain out in the "direction of his watering hole" on Santa Cruz Island, and Lord Devon's wartime helmet, which looked like the shell of a young tortoise, and for which he had a wee fancy.
Artificial insemination, a diet, a $10,000 reward for a mate, and a Swiss zoology graduate bent on stimulating his libido while smeared with female tortoise hormones all failed to help him procreate.
He did mate with one of his two lady companions in 2008 and 2009 but the resulting eggs failed to hatch.
The "rarest animal on earth", he featured on Ecuador's bank notes and stamps.
"His life cycle came to an end," said the head of the park, pragmatically, though the cause of death is unclear. He had a unqiue personality, he had his favourites but he avoided people and liked his routines. "When he looked at you, you saw time in the eyes," said one of his keepers.
Fond of eating, tenacious, stubborn, the last of a line (me Stewart, him Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni) and unwilling to mate. I saw a lot of myself in George. Such a pity he passed so soon. We would have been perfect for each other.
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