I was slightly unsettled last night by the sight of the British team at the Olympic Opening Ceremony walking round the track wearing what appeared to be gay Abba tribute costumes. Now I have to face dead slugs. Only time can tell which will leave the greater psychological scar.
I blogged last month about my eternally-un-named friend’s triumph in building a better mouse trap and drowning one of the diminutive rodents overnight in my living room.
Now she has turned her attention to species cleansing my garden.
She likes plants, which means she dislikes slugs, which is why there were three short wooden planks lying in my garden yesterday morning. And an unexplained chamber pot.
“They crawl around all night, doing their heinous things,” my eternally-un-named friend told me yesterday morning. “The slugs. Eating your plants and then, before dawn starts, they need somewhere to hide.”
“Like vampires?” I asked.
“Yes,” she agreed, laughing in an unsettling way. “Like vampires and Daleks,” she said. “They need somewhere to hide that’s damp and away from the sun, because they dry out. The slugs. The whole thing about them is they go round on their slime everywhere and they don’t like to dry out. That’s why they do their eating at night.”
“I know you put the planks down,” I said, “so the slugs will hide under them and you will find them in the morning. But there is a chamber pot involved. I didn’t know I had a chamber pot.”
“The chamber pot,” she explained, “just happens to be the only thing I can use to put the salted water in. And it has a dash of washing up liquid. I don’t want to use saucepans and plates – obviously.”
“But I didn’t know I had a chamber pot,” I said. “The first I knew of it was ten minutes ago. I know I have a bad memory, but… And it’s metal!”
“I got it on eBay,” my eternally-un-named friend explained.
“But why a metal chamber pot?” I asked.
“It’s copper. It’s a lovely colour,” she said.
“But you will hear the sound of your own plops,” I said. “Why did you buy it?”
“Well,” she said, “I like copper and a chamber pot is always useful.”
“For killing slugs?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “You either lay planks down on the ground near the plants – which they will hide under when the day comes – or you can use half a grapefruit.”
“You drop the grapefruit on them?” I asked.
“No. You cut the grapefruit in half and then eat the middle out,” she explained, “then over-turn it and put it on the ground near the plants like a little hut for the slugs… And you maybe put some water around the area because they are drawn to anything that’s damp and then they hide under the hollowed-out half grapefruit and think Oh good. I’m not going to dry out during the day. But you find then the next day and, em…”
“You kill them?”
“Well, only one fell for my plank ruse this time,” she said, “but I read an article on Google that said, in one hour, you can collect one hundred slugs.”
“In a small space?” I asked.
“It didn’t say…” my eternally-un-named friend mused, “It didn’t say what size of space. But I suppose, if you had a very large garden…”
“Like the back garden of Buckingham Palace,” I suggested. “If the Queen did it, she’d probably get a hundred. I think I read somewhere that she likes grapefruit.”
“I would think, in your garden so far I’ve easily caught twenty odd.”
“Over a period.”
“I don’t suppose Prince Charles would approve of his mother stalking and killing slugs,” I said, lost in my thoughts. “You had that dream last night.”
“Mmmm…..” my eternally-un-named friend said, also lost in thought. “About a giant…”
“Slug,” I said.
“Ye-e-e-s,” she said.
“What was it doing?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I just had to find a bucket of water big enough to stick it in. The chamber pot was not big enough… And then there are the eggshells…”
“The eggshells?” I asked.
“Well, an alternative is – though you can use all these at the same time, of course – and I think you should – Slugs don’t deserve to live if they eat my sweet peas… Look at the size of my sweet peas! Can you remember what size they were last year?”
“I… I…” I spluttered ineffectively.
“They’re less than half the size!” she told me, her voice rising.
“What’s happened to the top half?” I asked.
“The slugs have eaten them,” she told me.
“But slugs don’t eat from the top down,” I said. “They can’t levitate.”
“Yes,” my eternally-un-named friend agreed, “but that’s why they don’t grow any further, because someone went and ate them when they were starting. They’re half the height and that bush which is supposed to be a pom-pom bush is…”
“… now only a pom?” I suggested.
“Every little sprout!” she said, passionately. “They chew on the new sprouts. A new sprout can’t turn into an older sprout if someone’s gone and eaten it.”
“Won’t the poison just kill them?” I asked.
My eternally-un-named friend has been spreading little blue poison pellets around my back garden for the last few weeks. When we returned last week after a week in Milan, there was a small mound of dead and decomposing slugs under a an up-turned flower pot.
“Another thing which will apparently kill them is coffee,” my eternally-un-named friend told me yesterday.
“Coffee?” I asked.
“I will try pouring coffee – obviously not hot – over the plants… I don’t think it will damage the plants but, anyway… slugs don’t like it and they’re not sure why…”
“The slugs aren’t sure why?” I asked.
“The experts,” she told me reprovingly. “They think it’s maybe because of the caffeine drying-out the slugs.”
“There’s always cocaine,” I suggested. “They’d run around so fast they’d burn their stomachs off and die in screaming slug agony. But why eggshells?”
“I told you,” my eternally-un-named friend said patiently. “They’re like the Daleks. They need a flat surface.”
“Daleks can levitate now,” I pointed out.
“They can’t climb over sharp edges,” she said, ignoring me. “So you put broken eggshells round the bottom of the plants like an impenetrable barrier.”
“Like tank traps,” I said.
“Yes,” she said supportively. “Well done.”
“And it is true,” I said. “You never actually see Daleks at the bottom of plants, do you?”
“Well, in your garden you do,” said my eternally-un-named friend.
“But won’t the poison pellets just kill them?” I asked, persisting. “The slugs, not the Daleks.”
“The blue pellets are very ugly on the ground,” she replied, “and they don’t work when it gets wet, because the whole thing of killing them is with the dehydration. And apparently the poison pellets work by attracting them. So, if they don’t eat the pellets and you haven’t managed to kill them, then you’ve gone and attracted a whole lot who are going to lay eggs around everything and you’re going to have the whole same problem keep happening and, basically, you’re doomed.”
“I’m doomed?” I said.
“Death and taxes and slugs,” she said.
So it goes.
Happy birthday to me.