Category Archives: Nature

Slugs having sex, dogs high on drugs, sawing-up cars & comedy in cemeteries

The Bo Diddlers diddling last night (Photo by my eternally-un-named friend)

The Bo Diddlers last night via the comedian from Venus (Photograph by my eternally-un-named friend)

Strange things are happening.

No change there, then.

Last night I saw Ewan Wardrop aka The Silver Peevil, the stand-up comedian from 1930s Venus – aka a George Formby one-man play – aka a former Matthew Bourne principal dancer – perform an astonishing hour-long dance show Stump! with his six-man morris dancing troupe The Bo Diddlers.

It is very rare to see a morris dance based on The Midwich Cuckoos book/Village of The Damned film nor another based on what appeared to be the Dawn of Man ape sequence from the movie 2001. Astonishingly original choreography.

“They are gorgeous,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “Captivating. They made me feel like dancing. You know the way boy bands have dolls they sell to fans? This group could have figurines. You could arrange them dancing on your mantlepiece.”

“Maybe,” I said.

The Bo Diddlers are repeating the show at The Place tonight.

Soiree in a Cemetery

A fully sold-out soirée in a Cemetery somewhere in London

Which clashes with the one-off Martin Soan/Adam Taffler event Soirée in a Cemetery in which comedian Stewart Lee, the British Humanist Association Choir and others perform a comedy show in a Victorian cemetery somewhere in London (it’s a secret until later today) – all accompanied by cake and hot spiced cider from the Women’s Institute. Tickets have sold out.

Slightly eccentric you might think. But only comparatively.

I have received an email from mad inventor John Ward, who designed the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards trophies. He lives in Lincolnshire. He tells me he is in a documentary being premiered next Wednesday at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

The film is called A Different Drummer after a quote from Walt Whitman: I step to the beat of a different drummer. Not surprisingly, as John Ward is featured, it is about eccentrics. There is a trailer on YouTube.

What is it about Vancouver? Is it becoming the world centre of eccentricity? Or has the entire world gone doolally?

This blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith lives in Vancouver. She spotted a notice:

Notice spotted by Anna Smith in Vancouver

Anna Smith spotted this in an educational Vancouver building

ATTN: Debriefing for the Porn & Genital Image Online Survey and the Romantic Relationships & Mindfulness Online Survey will now be held in room 1606.

Anna has also been watching TV and tells me:

“On the CBC, the big news is veterinary. Doctors are saying that far too many stoned dogs are showing up at clinics and they wish the owners would just be honest about the problem, because vets have to give the dogs expensive blood tests. The laboratories found that although, in a few dogs, traces of cocaine and heroin were detected, the overwhelming majority of the dogs had ingested too much marijuana. However, the veterinarians said that it is not lethal, not a reason to panic and the most common side effect is that – I quote – It gives the dogs the munchies…”

Without pause or link, Anna then asked me:

“Just wondering, have you ever taken a picture of slugs fucking?”

A reasonable enough question (it seemed to her) but I had to say I had not, although my eternally-un-named friend appears to be on a barely-controllable mission to eradicate slugs from Planet Earth. She was out in the dark again late last night.

Slugs mating with something coming out the bottom (Photo by Cathleen Smith, Anna's mother)

Slugs mating with something coming out (Photo by Cathleen Smith, Anna’s mum)

“My mum,” Anna Smith told me. “took pictures of slugs fucking. They created a thin string of slime about a metre long and were dangling from the roof all day, possibly for several days. I visited my mother whist this blessed event was taking place. I don’t know which slug was emitting the slime or if it was both of them or what that blob of goo is. We live in what is left of a rainforest. Slugs love it. People make fun of them.

“My grandmother used to wonder why there was so much fuss about slugs. She once asked: Why don’t people just eat them? They eat snails.

Anna had no answer to this. Neither do I.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, John Ward has started to tinker with motorised vehicles again.

John Ward with small but effective fire engine

John Ward with his small but effective fire-fighting engine

He was last heard-of in this blog arranging and supervising a charity cabbage-hurling event, but his last motorised effort was creating what is apparently the smallest fire engine in the world, based on the chassis of a 3-wheeled Robin Reliant car. He created it because the British government has been trying to save money and has closed various local fire stations. John Ward likes to help out.

He tells me his next effort involves stripping down another Robin Reliant to the chassis.

“I took the car apart,” he told me, “but what do you do with the body? It’s too big for our local rubbish tip. So I got a small bench saw and reduced it to a wheel barrow full of smaller bits before putting them into carrier bags – Tesco ones of course as every little helps. Then I took it to the tip.”

I have no idea where any of this leads – neither the sawing-up of 3-wheeler cars nor taking photographs of slugs mating; neither trained ballet dancers doing morris dancing nor holding comedy shows in cemeteries.

I can only sit back and wait expectantly.

Strange things are happening.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Dance, Eccentrics, Humor, Humour, Nature

Killing slugs and Lewis Schaffer

A killer at work at midnight last night

A killer at relentless work after midnight last night

What do you do when you write a daily blog and have to get up at 7.30am and drive sharpish to Oxford for the day? Well, you grasp at straws and write a blog about slugs around midnight the previous night. This is that blog.

Long-running readers may retain nightmarish memories of my eternally-un-named friend’s obsession with killing slugs in the back garden, normally at dead of night when the surrounding neighbours are fast asleep and unable to witness the terrestrial gastropod mollusc carnage.

Slugs in the death cup

Slugs await their certain fate in the death cup

The unfortunate, slow-moving creatures usually get collected in their tens in a metal mug and are then put into a copper chamber pot where they meet their maker via a tsunami of boiling water.

My eternally-un-named friend was at it again last night.

“They are only slugs,” I told her.

“Worms go whoomph and they vanish,” she replied with, I thought, rather a lot of irrelevance.

“Slugs deserve to die,” she insisted. “Look at this plant. They’ve been eating this plant to smithereens. It’s been in hospital for weeks trying to recover. Look at it! They’re not even supposed to like eating this plant!”

“What’s it called?” I asked.

My eternally-un-named friend’s foot and the ’N’ plant

Eternally-un-named friend’s foot & ’N’ plant

“Nemesia or something,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “I can’t remember.”

“Amnesia?” I suggested.

“No, it starts with an N,” she insisted. “Can’t you blog about someone else? Just print the lyrics to that Noel Coward song you were listening to the other day. There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner. That’s interesting.”

“It may be in copyright,” I said, “and it’s not as good as the mass extermination of God’s creatures. You could end up at the International Court in the Hague for this.”

A slug makes a desperate, doomed bid to escape

A slug makes a desperate bid to out-run death

“Blog about something else,” pleaded my eternally-un-named friend. “What about that fantastic poster Lewis Schaffer sent you tonight of him kicking in the air?

“He looked like Robert De Niro in it. Phone him up. He won’t be in bed now. Have a bath. Think about it.”

“You’ve brought Lewis Schaffer into it now,” I said. “He will be very pleased… They’re trying to escape.”

“What?” asked my eternally-un-named friend.

Doomed slugs try to escape via circus act method

Doomed slugs try to escape via a circus act

“They’re trying to escape,” I repeated. I think they’re standing on each others shoulders – if slugs have shoulders – and trying to form a pyramid to escape up the side of the cup.”

This caused my eternally-un-named friend such trauma that she poured boiling hot water straight into the cup, bypassing the usual chamber pot method.

After photographing this slug carnage on my iPhone, I went back into the kitchen with her. I had left the outside door open. The ceiling round the light had about 30 flea-like creatures on it.

“Fleas!” I said.

“Flies not fleas,” my eternally-un-named friend told me. “Flies are OK.”

“Kill them all,” I heard myself say to her. “There’s a moth there on the lampshade, too. Kill the moth. Kill everything.”

It did not end well.

Nature is not to be encouraged.

This is what comes of opening windows and doors in the heat.

There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner is on YouTube.

3 Comments

Filed under Humor, Humour, Nature

If everything in the world were made of edible plastic, you would not have the problems caused by these green things

My eternally-un-named friend hunting for hedgehogs yesterday

Eternally-un-named friend hedgehog hunting

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting having tea in a garden centre near St Albans – not my natural habitat.

My eternally-un-named friend had gone off to the Information Desk to ask about buying a hedgehog.

It is a long back story.

I have mentioned it in my blog before.

She is waging a war of attrition against slugs in my back garden.

“What did they say at the Information Desk?” I asked her on her return.

“There was this oldish guy there,” she said, “and I asked him Can you tell me where I can get hedgehogs? and he started looking at me slightly frowning.

“He said: Do you mean ornamental ones or real ones? and he was sort of frowning a bit more.

Real ones, I said.

“And he told me: There’s a place you can get them in Notcutts, but we can’t get them – and he’s still looking a bit oddly at me. They’re wild animals, you know, he says. You might be able to get them in Notcutts in Smallford. They have animals there. But I don’t think they’ll have them, because they do pets and a hedgehog is a wild animal.

“By this point, he was scowling even more at me, as if I’m a bad person who wants to buy a wild animal and you’re not allowed to. But, I said, you’re selling hedgehog homes, so I thought people must be able to buy hedgehogs.

Oh yes,” he said, “that’s to encourage any hedgehogs you already have to stay there. And all this time, he’s looking at me as if I’m a bit…”

“That you want to bake and cook hedgehogs?” I suggested.

“No,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “I think he thought it was like when you tie up a swan in your back garden.”

“They sell hedgehog homes?” I asked.

“Yes,” said my eternally-un-named friend. So we went over to look at them.

Hedgehog houses will encourage residency

Slate roofed hedgehog house (right) may encourage residency

There was one with a slate roof for £29.99, and one made wholly of wood for £44.99

“The other thing I’m thinking,” my eternally-un-named friend told me, “is that you have a massive ant problem in your garden.

“They’re all around. Scurrying. You can see them as you come up the road from Elstree station. They’re rife.”

“What happened to the ladybirds?” I asked. “You said you’d found a ready supply of ladybirds to kill the aphids.”

“I can’t get the ladybirds to kill the aphids until I’ve killed the ants,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “because the ants would kill the ladybirds.”

“How are you going to kill the ants?” I asked.

“I’ve got a load of white powder,” she explained, “and I’ve got sprays and I’ve been pouring boiling water on the ant nests. One day when you were away in Edinburgh I went out into the garden to pull out the dandelions – at least they’re not actually going round killing other things – and there were ant nests everywhere.

“The aphids are out the front on one of the plants. And every other day, I would take off the branches that had the aphids on and bin them, because the aphids sap the plant and there was always a little ant walking up the stalk trying to do something to an aphid.

“Those millions of invisible bugs that I put in the ground to kill the ants… Unfortunately they have to be kept wet and we had that dry patch for some time. They cost £11. I know that’s cheap per million, but they didn’t seem to be pulling their weight, so I put down the £3 white powder as well.”

“What if the hedgehog eats the white powder?” I asked. “It will die.”

“I have no idea,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “I’m dealing with ants at the moment. I haven’t found a hedgehog. Who else eats ants?”

“The French,” I suggested.

Anteater - the alternative to a hedgehog

Buying an anteater could be a viable alternative to a hedgehog

My eternally-un-named friend thought for a moment and then said, perking up: “We could get an anteater! It might be easier in the long run just to get an anteater. The problem is there are the ants AND there are the slugs. There’s a double enemy situation.”

“Or we could just get a Frenchman,” I persisted. “They’ll eat anything.”

“When you break open these ant nests,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “you see half of them have got wings, half of them are eggs about to develop and the other half are the ones running around doing things to aphids. That’s the problem. We have 150% of ants trotting backwards and forwards everywhere. it really is hell.”

“You see?” I told her, “Nature is a nightmare. That’s why I try to have nothing to do with it. Anything green is a nightmare. New cheese, old meat, anything with leaves or stalks. Nightmare. I try to have nothing to do with anything green. If everything in the world were made of edible plastic, you wouldn’t have these problems. It must be possible in the 21st century. Natural things are bad things.”

“Well,” said my eternally-un-named friend, “if part of Nature and wildlife is that hedgehogs eat slugs, it’s certainly not happening round Elstree and Borehamwood and I don’t see how hedgehogs are going to come to your rescue when you have main roads.”

“Tunnels,” I suggested. “We will have to build hedgehog tunnels.”

“I got a reply from Bob Slayer,” said my eternally-un-named friend.

A few days ago, she asked comedian Bob Slayer where she could get a hedgehog, on the basis he was brought up in the West Country and would know about such Nature-related things. Yesterday, he replied:

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society is based in Clee Hill near Ludlow where I grew up. I went to a local pony club with the daughter of the man who set it up in 1982 – Major Adrian Harcourt Coles. I thought he was dead, but I have checked and he is not.

“I remember he raised a load of money to put ramps in all the cattle grids on Clee Hill so that, if hedgehogs fell in, they could climb out. Then someone proved that hedgehogs don’t live over a certain height above sea level and that there are no hedgehogs on Clee Hill.

Hedgehog flavoured crisps

Hedgehog flavoured crisps were trendy

“In 1981, Hedgehog Foods Ltd decided, as a joke, to produce hedgehog flavoured crisps. To everyone’s surprise, the crisps were a huge success. But they were actually flavoured with pork fat and no hedgehogs were used in the manufacturing process.

“As a result, the Office of Fair Trading took them to court (in 1982) on a charge of false advertising. A settlement was finally reached when Mr Lewis of Hedgehog Foods interviewed gypsies – who actually did eat baked hedgehogs – to ascertain the flavour of hedgehogs. He then commissioned a flavourings firm to duplicate the flavour as closely as possible and changed the labels from ‘hedgehog flavoured’ to ‘hedgehog flavour’ and the Office of Fair Trading was satisfied.”

My eternally-un-named friend showed me Bob Slayer’s e-mail, then suggested: “If a hedgehog did get to your garden, it could have the run of the area. Your garden and other people’s gardens. There’s probably a good living for a hedgehog there.”

“And, if it ran out of slugs to eat, it could drink milk,” I suggested.

“No,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “They can’t drink milk. There’s an advert on television that says they’re lactose-intolerant. It’s an advert for lactose-free milk and they’re telling hedgehogs Yes, it’s OK to have this milk. I’m sure a hedgehog would like to live in your garden, although there is that fox around.”

“I saw it last night by the garages when I was parking the car,” I said. “We may have to set up a fox hunt. Where can we get horses and hounds? Can they be rented or do you have to set up a permanent hunt?”

“I think we should just get an anteater,” said my eternally-un-named friend.

“Or a Frenchman,” I said.

The debate continues.

2 Comments

Filed under Gardening, Hedgehogs, Humor, Humour, Nature