Driving through the lush green New Zealand countryside I had a feeling that something was lacking. It took a while to realise that the missing ingredient had four legs and was covered in wool.
The big joke about NZ used to be that the small population of people was greatly outnumbered by millions of sheep, and we were the butt of numerous sheep shagging jokes (especially from our cousins in Australia). Tourists were herded to demonstrations of sheep shearing, and at home granny sipped sweet sherry and knitted jumpers (jerseys) and socks as birthday presents. Followed by roast lamb for Sunday lunch.
These days the number of sheep has steeply declined, and farmers now produce dairy products till the cows come home. New Zealand seems to have become one big milking shed for the overseas market.
Anyway, to comfort myself for the lack of ovine company on this particular road trip I sang a little sheep mantra to pass the time. This became the basis of the song SHELLEY THE SHEEP (on the new fleaBITE album).
Several months later, my audio engineer Gil Craig and I were mixing the sheep song. After a couple of hours of hearing the endless sheepy mantra, Gil suddenly dived into her woolly reservoir of repressed memories and came up with the fact that when she was a child she had in fact had a pet sheep. Called Shelley. Well stone the crows, what a co-incidence! Unfortunately Gil’s pet sheep met an unfortunate end.
So please raise your mint sauce to SHELLEY THE SHEEP, with the hope that sheep will once again rule New Zealand, and the glories of wool will be sung loudly throughout the galaxy.