I used to be fascinated by dead animals.
As a child I liked nothing better than stumbling across a prone sheep on a fell-side, its torso bloated with gas and its pecked eyes somewhere high in the sky in the beak of a bird; or finding a flattened rabbit on the road side with its entrails stretched out behind it like a vapour trail.
These creatures didn’t disgust me. Quite the opposite in fact - they intrigued me the way their insides were laid bare, like the secrets of life had been unlocked and made public. Intestines, organs, blood; all were part of a puzzle that had been reversed, dismantled, demystified.
If they remained intact – a rarity - it was always the eyes that affected me the most, for the eyes are the window into a living being; and the moment in which they had died seemed to be captured in that bleak black stare, whether it was the sheep that had fallen down a crag in the night, the baby bird cast out from the nest or the hedgehog that had met its death beneath the crush of a Dunlop tyre at dawn.
Those eyes stared down through time and in each was the flash of a headlight, the panic of uncertainty, a look of surprise, the horror of nature’s violence, the disappointment at the unfairness of it all.
In those dead animals all the secrets of the world seemed to exist and the mystery of life unravelled.
The message of death as the last word in democracy - the immoveable full-stop - was conveyed and it said in a voice unequivocally loud and clear: no-one can beat me.