Mammoth Party Time

Mammoth Party Time

Every now and then, people ask me to go to parties.

Most people on meeting a stranger at a party start their conversation with the inevitable question, “What do you do?” I use to answer by saying that I work in direct mail, but that tends to result in people telling me that they don’t read all the junk mail that comes through the door and I don’t know why firms keep sending it out. In vain do I point out that companies wouldn’t use direct mail and we wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for the fact that direct mail actually works, and that in fact I spend my time helping people get higher response rates.

Next I tried saying that I was in advertising, but inevitably people think this means television advertising and when I started talking about direct mail, we got back to the same problem I had in the first place.

So recently, I have been telling people that I am a writer. This seems to work well, it has a certain cache and for some reason people often think writers are interesting. But the problem is still the follow-up question, which in this case becomes, “What do you write?” When I say I write silly sales letters they never know quite how to reply, so I fill the gap by asking, “and what do you do?”

Just this last week I got the weirdest answer I have ever had. The lady I was speaking to told me that she researched woolly mammoths. It appears that two months a year she works with a team in Siberia searching for remains of the great beasts. Then they ship the frozen remains back to a lab in Moscow and gradually defrost the animal, often uncovering almost complete creatures.

But the oddest thing about this was the way in which the defrosting is done. In order to preserve as much of the animal as possible, it seems they use hand held dryers, working across the frozen remains inch by inch removing all the surrounding mud and stone to reveal the animal itself before delving into the stomach to look for the last meal, testing the hair and tusks and so on. They do this for ten months a year working in sub-zero temperatures, while waiting for the return of the short Siberian summer, for the next mammoth hunting season.

At the next party I think I’m going to change my story!

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