This country often likes to think of itself as a nation of animal lovers, despite both the evidence and the restrictions placed on such activities by the Law. Nevertheless, I was surprised to see that an out-of-town pet superstore was offering “Groom: half price” on a sandwich board outside their shop. I realise that many women are time poor these days, and can find it hard to find a suitable mate. I also recognise the continuing financial difficulties which affect us all (though perhaps affecting millionaire public school alumni a little less than the majority of us. In honour of this fact, I choose a satirical dessert describing the state of this country last Monday e’en. You guessed it, I had Eton Mess!) and so a bargain is always welcome. Notwithstanding all of the above, this offer strikes me as falling on the wrong side of the definition of animal husbandry.
Following a tweet of recommendation by the fine actor Damien Molony, 10 Greek Street is becoming a regular haunt when I’m “in town”. Indeed, I shall probably lunch there today before tackling Sophocles’ immortal tragedy at the National. In addition to the excellent food, the restaurant boasts very friendly and largely Antipodean staff. It was as a result of this fact that I learned, earlier this week, that our friends from down under love squirrels: and don’t seem to mind what colour they are. Apparently they don’t have them back home, a fact which surprised me having visited both Australia and New Zealand. In both cases, the British appear to have taken an extraordinary variety of wildlife with them in an attempt to stave off homesickness when we dispossessed the natives of their lands. I mean, I love the blackbird as much as the next man, but I’ve never considered taking one (or more importantly a breeding population) with me when I go on holiday.
Perhaps the appeal of our bushy-tailed, nut-eating chums is that despite their faults, unlike so much wildlife native to the southern hemisphere, they are not highly venomous – and so unlikely to kill the unwary. Perhaps we locals should learn to appreciate what we have? They may fill my garden with unwanted walnut trees, but are unlikely to be the immediate cause of my demise.