Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sleeping With Badgers

In a week that has seen my daughter administer treatment at Chelsea, Stanford Bridge on Wednesday night and help treat a heart attack victim at Lords yesterday Nottingham v Glamorgan and a whirlwind tour of Reading University with our son looking at campus and various components to do with agriculture, a very enlightening week all round. Two kids who think the world of each other could not be more different but each equally as interesting.

  Sophie from the age of four would charge upstairs on a Sunday morning with a small doctor’s bag grasped in hand to administer quite a wide range of treatments which had been mainly picked up from her cartoon favourites; Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse and all the Disney productions. She would rifle through her little black bag and pull out the biggest toy syringe you had ever seen. The sheer size of it made your eyes water. She would prod, poke and pull your hair to hold you steady. This doctor business was a rough old game. Her mother thought this was great entertainment and I was never in any doubt that this level of endurance was necessary as not to put her off her chosen trade. It still makes me wince whenever I think back to those days.

Whereas Sam on the other hand is a very casual, unhurried soul and the countryside is very much his bag.  There was a time when Sam was about seven years of age, we had a broody hen and he would check on her progress every morning and evening, before and after school to see if the chicks had hatched from the gorgeous, lovely brown eggs of the Cuckoo Moran. The look of disappointment on his face each teatime when I came in from work was calculable and you could see by day 20 the disappointment was turning more into a frown of disbelief until the night I returned home from work as normal in the land rover and before the engine had stopped I could hear cries of delight, “Dad, dad, the chicks are hatching.” That was then, and now is now.

Friday night, Jackie thought it would be a good idea to go out and pick some blackberries to enable her to make blackberry and apple pie for Sunday lunch.  As we were picking the blackberries Jackie then went on to say “I think the Coopers should be in constant communication Allan, don’t you? By this I mean, in case anything ever happened they could ring for help, for example if they overturned their invalidity car, or a tree fell on them, anything really.”
“What? Do you mean a mobile phone?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.”
“Good idea, when are they getting that?”
“Well I got them one on Wednesday, I didn’t think you’d mind, I’ve tied a contract in and put it on your business account.”
“Oh, well that’s it then.”  Just then, talk of the devil, trundling down the track came the Coopers.  This time, Mr. Cooper was driving and Mrs. Cooper was on the back holding something up to her ear, “the new mobile phone” I thought.  They pulled up alongside us.
 “Thank you very much for this phone Jackie, It is a true life saver and I am learning to do so much with it. We just don’t know how we’ve managed without one for so long.”
“Well we won’t hang around as we can see your busy blackberrying,” said Mr. Cooper,  “and you’ll soon be losing the light so we’ll say goodnight,” and off the Coopers sped. The Harvest Moon you could see clearly now on this mid-September evening. As the Coopers went off I noticed a large bundle which she was sat on and Jackie also noticed it. 
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” and then it dawned on me. I turned to Jackie and said, “You knew they were camping up at the badger sett, that is why you bought them that mobile phone.”
“Yes” Jackie replied. “A couple of mornings this week I have seen them returning from the sett.  They have got themselves in such a tizzy over the shot badger images that have been bandied about by the media, and they keep saying about how worried you are especially as we near The Hunters Moon. They just don’t like leaving the badgers at all at this very dangerous time.”
“That’s as may be,  but this is the Harvest Moon.”
“I know, but it is still a full moon.”

 We returned home with the blackberries and I told Jackie that I would be getting up in the early hours to go and check out the Cooper’s situation for myself.  2:30am came and I snuck out the house and made my way to Beech Wyn.  As I walked up the track, the Harvest Moon was full and bright.  As you looked at it you sensed it was almost trying to steal your soul.  There was barely a breath of wind. The early morning was so peaceful and tranquil.  In its own way it was quite reassuring and overwhelming.   I arrived at the boundary of Beech Wyn and then began to walk through the beech and ash trees.  I could now see the large boulders that I had strategically placed around the sett and as I got nearer I stood for a second or two.  There was the Coopers tent, a little scout type tent, that was so near to the entrance of the sett, they were almost down it.  I crept by one of the rocks and five metres in front of me, right outside the opening of the tent lay Daddy Cool.  He turned his head towards me, our eyes met for a spit second and for that split second, his eyes were almost Michael’s, a shiver went down my back. 

If there is any such thing as reincarnation, this was the nearest thing that I had ever seen to it.  He scuttled off down into his sett.  I reached inside the tent and pulled back the canvas. There was Mr and Mrs Cooper snuggled down underneath a big duvet, the bag of peanuts by the side of them and on top of the peanuts was that lovely, shiny, new iphone.  As I retreated from the scene, the ones that had given so much over the years looking after these badgers seemed to me were now being looked after by the badgers themselves.

This is the great Daddy Cool whose presence has brought so much pleasure.

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