When the Common Quail performs its
Spring migration north through the Holy Land it consumes en route
toxic seeds (probably those of a Woundwort – Stachys annua)
that are harmless to the bird, but regularly poison those who,
shortly afterwards, dine on the migrant.
A keen ladies' man from Israel
Once ate a migratory quail,
Half dead from the bird,
He employed the word
“Coturnism” to impress a female.
People have been aware of this
phenomenon (the poisoning) for millennia; the Old Testament blamed
God's wrath (Numbers 11: 31-34). The resulting medical condition,
coturnism, has its
etymological roots in coturnix, Latin for quail.
None who was in the Dog and
Mollusc that night will forget Cephalo Pod's emotive instrumental.
Like all octopuses Pod had three hearts, we saw them, they were worn
on a variety of his sleeves as he squeezed from his lap Charles Trenet's haunting ditty;
There wasn't a dry eye in
the Dog when Ceph mumbled his farewells. Shouts of “Encore!”
echoed in his statocyst as he waved multiple goodbyes and left via a crack in the wainscotting.