During the week I had been down to the local blacksmith’s in the village and asked him to make a cage that would hold ten badgers. The material we all seemed to think was right for the job was a 2 inch gauge weld mesh, welded to 2 inch angle ironed corner posts. The whole thing was to measure about 5 feet long and 3 foot wide and 3 feet high with a lifting eye on each corner so that if the unthinkable happened the whole caboosh could be lifted up without too much sway and tip. “What’s all this about?” asked the blacksmith.
“Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies,” I replied. All that was a couple of days ago. Alongside the instructions for the badger cage manufacture Jackie, Sophie and Sam had camouflaged the Cooper’s invalidity buggy and they all seemed very pleased with the result, according to Jackie, none more so than the Coopers. Well tonight being Friday as all parents know when kids get to a certain age their social life is much fuller than the parents. Tonight was no exception. “We’ll walk off down to the badgers later,” said Jackie.
“Certainly,” I said. After tea Sophie and Sam went off to do their own thing and about 8:15pm Jackie and I walked off in a roundabout fashion toward the badger sett. Sun shining beautifully, a tad cooler than it had been along with a nice breeze and the birdsong still quite full. As we listened to the skylarks as we sauntered along down the hedgerow toward the river Jackie said, “Look,” and I turned my gaze toward the track heading towards the badger sett at Beech Wyn, and there was a cloud of dust moving at what seemed to be quite a pace. Jackie said, “What is that? A little whirlwind?”
“Yes, being generated by the Coopers,” I replied. Jackie roared with laughter. Now you could see them quite clearly, Mrs Cooper driving and Mr Cooper hanging on. “That thing goes at quite a speed,” Jackie said.
“Yes, if they want to stay inconspicuous to go along with the camouflaged paint job they are going to have to slow down in this dry weather as the dust will give them a way.” We soon arrived at the Beech woodland. There, rammed up between two trees was the Cooper mobile. They had thrown a couple of small branches over it and to be fair, you could only just see it. We walked on up through the trees and the Coopers were already in position. On their two deck chairs by the side of the big stones as if they were at the theatre waiting for the curtain to rise. “Hello Mr and Mrs Cooper,” said Jackie.
“Oh hello Jackie, take a seat upon one of those stones and tell us about your week.” As Jackie started the conversation she had that look upon her face as in a leg pull. Something was coming. “Oh Mrs Cooper, I rang the disability shop today and they said they’ve got another invalidity buggy in which would suit you probably better than the one you’ve got and as you were so disappointed with the one you have I told the man that we would change it tomorrow.”
“Don’t speak so ridiculous,” snapped Mrs Cooper, “We are not at all displeased, this buggy is heaven sent, no we are definitely keeping this one, so you can tell that man to bobby off as we are very happy with it.” Jackie laughed and then the Coopers saw that it was a leg pull and laughed with her. I sat there thinking, how many badgers do they honestly think they’ll see, these three were making more noise than the local pub. The time now was about five past nine and they were still at it ten to the dozen, conversations about all kinds of bygone nonsense. “You do expect to see some badgers then?” I asked.
“Of course, I and Mr Cooper chat all the time we are here, all this silent nonsense, absolutely ridiculous, badgers love a good conversation.” Just then the badgers started to appear. After seeing the third head, Mrs Cooper threw out a handful of peanuts. Jackie and I were really quite amazed, the badgers didn’t flinch. They just snorkelled up the peanuts and just browsed around completely oblivious to the small audience watching them. Their trust of the Coopers and ourselves was quite unnerving. They actually looked up to the Coopers from time to time, almost expecting another handful of peanuts and I felt sure that once the cage was in place one word from the Coopers and they would soon be inside it, but then again, that is probably just wishful thinking. After about twenty minutes of this wonderful show you could hear an odd snorting, squealing, and a low pitched squeal. “What on earth is that?” queried Mr Cooper. The badgers stood stock still and you could see they were not at all frightened, they had heard this woodland rhythm of sound before. The noise was getting a tad louder, “What on earth is that?” repeated Mr Cooper.
“Guess,” I said. After guessing from everything from squirrels to rabbits, to hares to frogs and even toads they gave up. “Hedgehogs,” I said, “Mating hedgehogs.”
“Never!” said Mrs Cooper and Jackie simultaneously. Just then 10 meters further up the bank above the badgers a female hedgehog went scurrying by, a few seconds after that an amorous male Usain Bolt like hedgehog was in hot pursuit. A hedgehog can run surprisingly fast. The female had gone round the fallen bough, the male decided to gain a few precious seconds and climb over it landing by the side of a young badger who had his head underneath the bough trying to get hold of that always hard to get at last peanut. This startled the badger as well as himself. The hedgehog quickly wound himself up into a prickly ball. Under normal circumstances this would have been quite a sensible survival move, but as they were half way up a bank proved pretty miserable for the hedgehog in question as he then started to roll. Mrs Cooper, Mr Cooper and Jackie averted their gaze to this rolling hedgehog as it glanced and brushed past a few trees gathering speed on its way to the bottom of the wood. The Coopers roared with laughter, “That’s the type of rock and roll we love nowadays,” they giggled.
Jackie and I decided to call it a night. As we got up to leave Mrs Cooper asked if there was any more news or plans afoot to do with the badgers. She assured Jackie and myself they were keeping a very close eye on things and you could see that they were. “No more news as yet,” I replied, “Goodnight.”
Hedgehogs run surprisingly fast and are very competent climbers.