Some of my best friends are werewolves. That's mostly because (as far as we know), werewolves are the most common wereanimals; or as we at the WLF, the Were Liberation Front, prefer to put it, werepeople. I have to say “as far as we know”, though, because to be honest we don't know very much. Too many werepeople are still afraid to come out. The fear of a stake through your heart, or being decapitated and buried at a crossroads, discourages them. 

    A lot of it is down to a bad press, of course, especially historically. Yes, it is possible that some werewolves, in the more or less remote past, killed people. On the other hand, actual, documented accounts of werewolf attacks, from credible sources, are extremely difficult to find. Well, more sort of impossible, really. But given that people kill people, it's not inconceivable that werepeople kill people too. It just seems likelier that people killed people, and then pretended to be (or blamed it on) werewolves. 

    To be honest, the risks to werepeople are far greater than the risks to the non-were population. Werewolves are not too badly placed on this one: after all, most people are afraid of wolves. And my wife is a weretiger. Without firearms, very few people are inclined to take on a tiger. For a hundred years or more, weretigers were pretty safe in the UK: there just weren't enough armed people around. This is however one of the less expected side effects of the War on Terror: more and more armed police, often quite trigger-happy when it comes to large (and, they think, dangerous) cats. Long gone are the days when a couple of werelions could walk down Sauchiehall Street, giving rise to the famous joke of one saying to the other, “That's funny. I thought this was supposed to be a busy street.” It's a true story. I met them once, though they were quite old by then. They ducked into Williamsons at the end of the street to change back; one of the guys on the film counter was a werewombat doing his classic Aussie round-the-world tour. 

    Some of us, too, are safer than we used to be. I mean, I'm a werepig. Nowadays there's so much red tape surrounding slaughterhouses that even if someone caught me, I'd undoubtedly have time to change back before, as we used to say in my native Cornwall, I “felt the knife”. A couple of centuries ago, an unclaimed pig running around was on the fast track to being salted, smoked and turned into sausages. Nowadays, my biggest problem tends to be worrying about my weight. There are some characteristics that sort of carry over from one shape to another, and besides, there's the question of our diet when we're in wereform. In some ways I have more of a problem here than my wife. Gathering a bushel of acorns and beechmast is surprisingly time-consuming; but then again, a saddle of lamb tends to be quite expensive. We tend to stock up the freezer when there are sales on. And we've got a friend who runs a goat farm. Every now and then we can get a whole kid, though I must admit that we often cut off the hind legs so we can roast them when we're human. 

    We all look out for each other. In pig form, I weigh 200 kilos and have six-inch tusks. Unless you are quite well armed, a wereboar is probably a more dangerous animal than a weretiger. When I get those bloody infuriating sales calls, asking if I want to buy double glazing or frozen food, I sometimes think of inviting them to call 'round at full moon. People forget that while tigers are sometimes man-eaters, pigs are omnivores and a good deal less fussy than tigers about what they eat. I'm not sure that even if they tried us in human form, they could get a conviction for killing and eating someone who's trying to sell you health insurance, or who's blatantly been fishing in your computer so they can hack your bank account. But there are times – we have a rota – when in our wereshapes we need to go out and protect other werepeople. For example, twice a year I look out for a friend who's a wererabbit. For someone like him, the safest bet (just as for the rest of us) is to stay indoors during the full moon. Sometimes he doesn't, though. He says his sex life is incredible. 

    And what about the poor girl who's a wereanemone? How would you feel if you had to go swimming for two days every full moon? Actually, swimming wouldn't be so bad. It's being stuck to a rock that really makes you feel vulnerable. Her boyfriend is a wereoyster, so they try to find safe locations together. Fortunately, Jonno is a wereshark and Alison is a werebarracuda so they take it in turns keeping an eye on them. The WLF is a great place for meeting people, but equally, you'll understand why my wife and I never had children. 

    We're planning to go public soon. You know: fund-raising. Public demonstrations. Chants: “Say it now, say it loud, we are Were and we are proud.” Were Pride Marches are planned for quite a few cities, though not so many in the United States because there are too many heavily armed nutters around, and far too many religious fundamentalists with unreconstructed ideas about demonic possession, dominionism and the like. On the other hand, there's a couple of weresilverbacks who have an idea about a parade in Chicago. As one of them put it, “What do you call a 300 lb gorilla with a machine gun? Sir!"

    If you have been affected by issues in this column, and want to get in touch with like-minded people, go to the Were Liberation Front web-site. If you are not personally affected, you may know people who are. Give them your support and encouragement. Remember, too, that we're going to need money – ideally, lots of money – to help promote the cause. Please give generously. 

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Text copyright (c) Roger Hicks 2017