Jayne Dawson: Someone was cowardly – and it wasn’t the lion

Cecil the lion pictured in 2012.
Cecil the lion pictured in 2012.
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When is it okay to kill a lion?

It’s not a question I ever thought I would ask myself but, you know, life is unpredictable.

So, after some thought, a little bit of digging deep and a period of gazing into the middle distance, I have come to this conclusion: I think it might be okay to kill a lion if it sought you out, on your home territory, and made it clear it had you in mind for lunch.

So if, say, you were pegging out the washing round the back one day and a lion leapt over your fence with a look in its eye that said: “My problem is that I’m starving and your problem is that you’re the solution” then that would be the time when it would be okay to kill the lion.

Assuming, obviously, you had the means to hand - apparently a bow and arrow followed by a big fat gunshot almost two days later is one method, though I hope you would be less cruel than that.

And also assuming that you didn’t have an alternative solution. If you happened to have a leg of lamb or a side of beef in your peg basket - unlikely I know but bear with, I’m thinking on my feet here and you could have been about to fire up the barbie after dealing with the washing - then the correct thing would be to offer that instead. If the lion refused the offer, then I would go with the gun.

But that really is the only scenario I can think of when it would be okay to kill a lion, if it was directly threatening you or yours. If it was kill or be killed, and the lion had started it.

But what if you met a hungry lion on the African plains, where their dwindling numbers roam?

Well, here’s the thing, don’t put your little vulnerable human body in the way of a hungry lion. Keep out of their way. That’s my answer to that one.

Here’s when it is not okay to kill a lion: when you are a wealthy American dentist who thinks, for reasons no decent person can understand, it is fun to spend your holiday time destroying big, beautiful animals for “sport”, then displaying their lifeless carcasses as trophies.

The sort of sport that means you creep up on an animal from the safety of your big, safe vehicle and then maim and kill it from long distance with your arsenal of weaponry. Ensuring that although nature is red in tooth and claw, no claw is given a chance to get near cowardly you. It’s not okay to do that.

Apparently the dentist, Dr Walter Palmer, thinks it is. So much so that he has spent many holidays slaying animals, and is in the habit of displaying pictures of his kills on social media, and their heads on his walls at home.

I imagine this is meant to show what a big, manly man he is. Because that’s what real men do , isn’t it.? Kill fellow creatures from a safe distance, so they can use their body parts as a macabre form of interior decoration.

But Dr Palmer, by killing Cecil, a lion who was known, loved, tagged, protected and, by all accounts, enticed to his death, revealed something that probably surprised a lot of us.

He opened our eyes to the shocking fact that sometimes it is okay to kill a lion when it hasn’t jumped over your back fence and doesn’t have you lined up for lunch.

Apparently it is okay to creep up on a lion, or a giraffe, or an elephant, or some other wonderful beast in its own habitat and blast its brains out - although on second thoughts a collector of heads would never do that, would they? It would be spoiling the goods.

Much better to maim it in an inconspicuous place and allow it to die a slow, painful death.

That, providing you have the right paperwork, is apparently fine. Go ahead, you big, brave killers, fill your homes with your obscene trophies.

That just cannot be right, can it? What we need is a backlash, a surge of anger, a roar of rage to stop the filthy business that is legal hunting.

It won’t change anything though. Cecil the lion will still have been killed for no reason except that his killer enjoyed the killing.


I’ve started making surreptitious trips to my garage. If it’s going to happen, it’s usually at this time of year.

I’m not proud, but there it is. Me and the garage, we have our secret.

It’s not booze, it’s not cigarettes, it’s not even chocolate.

It’s the boiler. On the long, cold days inbetween the occasional warm ones I find the lure of the heating controls too much.

In I tiptoe to turn the off switch to on, and blessed warmth steals through the house. I’m betting that I am not alone. There will be others with a similar secret. And they will all be women, because it is always we women who crave warmth, who find the no summer heating rule too hard to bear.

I know of men who operate a May to October rule. October! A person could have turned to solid ice by then. Yet these men, they boast about it. They sit there joyfully imagining how bereft the energy suppliers must feel, how they must be sobbing as they watch consumer usage flatline.

But what they fail to notice is the bluey tinge to their partner and children.

It is then that a woman will show her mettle. To save the lives of her nearest and dearest she will act.

She will wait until the man in her life is distracted - food, football, whatever - and then she will press the button. It’s a selfless act, she is saving her man’s pride and her children’s lives - that’s how I see it anyway.


You find me in the middle of an experiment. Not sure whether it’s going to be a success but I’m giving it a go.
I’ve decided to go teapotless. After all this time, after all these decades, after all those thousands and thousands of pots of tea, I’m putting the teabag straight in the mug.
Like I said, I’m not sure about it, but it seems to be the way things are going.
My mum has given up the teapot, my son has given up the teapot. For all I know, I could be the last teapot user in England.
I sort of see why. 
If you are a teabag user, then it is as easy to brew straight in the mug, and so much less fuss. There is no teapot hanging around, covered in stains and full of cold tea. It makes sense. 
But brewing in the mug is a soulless, sterile business, isn’t it? No chink of china, no sound of pouring water, and definitely no tea cosy. 
I’m trying, that’s all I’m saying - but I’m missing the cosiness.