The two sheep that live in the field outside our kitchen door have taken on the role of Big Issue sellers in my psyche. I feel guilty if I pass by without giving them something, and enjoy a glow of self-satisfaction as they gratefully accept the stale slices of bread that I magnanimously offer to them in a vain attempt to appease their reproachful stare. Aside from the fact that brioche is their favourite, and that the look in their eyes leaves me in no doubt that they are aware that they are only receiving unwanted scraps, I still get to feel that I have performed my charitable act for the day, although this morning’s conditions gave me an immediate insight into the possible origin of the phrase “as cold as charity”. One would imagine that sheep would prefer something green, but this pair are big on carbs. One of them is a ewe, lone survivor of the savage cull that followed the demise of the flock’s aged guardian, and the other is a lamb, issue of a passing relationship with a gigolo ram. “Gigolo d’Agneau” or more accurately “Agneau du Gigolo” has a certain ring to it; neither engagement nor wedding, but nevertheless a ring. It was easy, at first, to distinguish the “baa” of the sheep from the bleating of the lamb. Stéphane Reynaud suggests that a Gallic sheep would be more likely to “bêêh” rather than to “baa”. The “baa” or “bêêh” of the ewe has remained constant but the lamb’s voice has changed considerably, moving from bleat to “blêêh”. It makes me realise how inattentive I was to our childrens’ vocal development as they moved from crying, to speaking, to raging. It has been suggested by my wife that it was not so much my inattentiveness that prevented me from noticing these subtle changes, more my absence from the house during their waking hours.