Finding Friends For A Dead Octopus
Paul the Psychic Octopus has died. To celebrate his life and mourn his passing, we've found three other animal heroes for him to knock around with in the afterlife (why did we never ask him about the afterlife, incidentally?).
Simon the Cat (c. 1947 - 1949)
In truth, ‘Simon the cat' barely made it past the kitten stage, but the tale of how he taught a crew of emotionally crippled sailors how to love again is one that has refused to sink beneath the waves for over 60 years. Smuggled aboard the British naval sloop HMS Amethyst when it was moored in Hong Kong in 1948, Simon soon won over the hearts and minds of his companions with antics that included:
- Leaving dead rats in sailors' beds
- Killing rats
- Eating rats
He was seriously wounded when some Chinese Communists shot him with a cannon a year later, but managed to drag himself from the captain's cabin out onto the deck where he was hurried off to the ship's medical bay for priority treatment. Having been through all that, earning a PDSA's Dickin Medal in the process, the poor bastard died in quarantine upon his return to the UK on the 28th of November 1949.
Pest control, low-level psychiatry, ability to survive gun attacks, sense of adventure.
Relatively minor viral infections, cannons.
A suitable friend for Paul?
May be too arrogant due to superior sea-faring experience. Rat tricks unlikely to impress octopus as octopuses are generally ignorant of what rats are.
Wojtek the Soldier Bear (c. 1942 - 1963)
Normally when some Polish soldiers buy a bear off an Iranian boy for a couple of cans of tinned meat you fear the worst: dancing, baiting, bear riding, etc. Not with Wojtek. These particular Poles had different plans for their Syrian brown bear, whose name meant "smiling warrior" in Slavic. In 1942 Wojtek was drafted into the Polish Army. Listed as an official member of a Polish artillery company, Wojtek came to his comrades' aid in the 1944 Battle of Monte Cassino by allegedly ferrying an enormous amount of ammunition to and from the frontline. Miraculously he managed to do this without dropping a single crate. When the battle was done, the 22nd Transport Company to which he belonged was given a new emblem in his honour. A keen beer drinker who enjoyed both smoking and eating cigarettes, Wojtek was a fast-living bear who cheated death until he was 22, seeing out his days as the star attraction at Edinburgh Zoo.
Hedonism, carrying bullets.
None, he is a bear with a human brain.
Tama the Cat (c. 1999 - present)
Appointed the sole station master of a Japanese railway stop in 2007, Tama has a feline assistant and is "the only female in a managerial position" in her company. Economists have shown that her appointment has added over 1.1 billion Yen to the local economy, and in 2008 Tama was promoted to the previously non-existent position of ‘Super Station Master' which earned her an office (a repurposed ticket booth containing a litter box). Her meteoric rise was not to stop there however, and in 2010 she was promoted again, this time to the post of ‘Operating Officer'. This made her the first cat to become an executive of a railroad corporation and a new train was designed (with whiskers etc) and launched in her honour last spring. Currently Tama is alive, but at 11-years-old it surely won't be long till she buys her one-way ticket to Smug Dead Cat Town.
Punctual, good people skills, ambitious.
Could yet die horribly, too busy with career to start a family and thus legacy.