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Animals of the UK - Bayleaf the donkey

Hello. I'm going to try and introduce to you some of the animals of the UK that I encounter. You can call me twee, but I don't really give a fuck. Because one of the only times I feel truly calm is when amongst the natural world and non-humans.

Bayleaf lives on Spitalfields City Farm, off Brick Lane, in a field with Tilly, a Shetland Pony. They get on well and seem to help each other out - sharing food, providing shelter for each other and grooming. I remember when they were first put together, it seemed like Tilly used to bully Bayleaf, despite her diminished size, but it all seems to have passed now.

By the usual standards of donkeys, Bayleaf is very calm. He'll come over to you and nuzzle you, looking for food. But he won't get cross if you have none, and nor will he over-react to the pokings of local children. He just gets on with his day.

He's also got a big new place to walk about in in the daytime - I suppose it's a "pen" but that sounds like he's in jail. He and Tilly had to be relocated when the East London Line began to be constructed on land that the Farm rented from TFL. But it was a good thing - their new area is a lot bigger and the ground looks much more fertile than the the old area, which was boggy and prone to flooding.

It was in that old area that Bayleaf achieved his moment of fame to date - starring in the video for "Fuck Forever" by local scum, Babyshambles. I went to see the filming of the video, because it was during a period when I held a mania for Pete Doherty. Bayleaf seemed unusually agitated that day, and was draped in the union jack. But donkeys have no nationality, so it was something of an insult to him I say. Plus donkeys don't like standing around and being forced to perform, so I thought it was a bad decision to turn the farm over to a pop video shoot for the day.

Simon Amstell was there, interviewing the band for Popworld. He's a lovely man - a Jew with curly hair, just like me.

Bayleaf looks healthy and his stomach is large and well-fed. There's no need to fear him. Go and stroke his ears - they're a lot more soft than you'd expect of an animal usually put into working service. However, if you're over 8 like me, you won't be allowed to ride on him. Disappointing but wise.


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