A note from William Frederick, author and decent chap.
My Beloved received a phone call yesterday which turned out to be from her friend Jane. Jane and her husband Donald had stayed with us at our Argyll home for a few days before travelling north to catch the ferry over to the isle of Mull. (They didn’t get to Mull but that is another story).
Jane was explaining to Beloved, just why they didn’t get to Mull and ended up staying in Oban (apparently, it was all down to an accommodation problem on Mull, due to an influx of our American cousins, holidaying and sporting all manner of Tartan wear), before taking a leisurely couple of days to drive back to our collective home town of Liverpool. Actually, if you ever referred to Donald as having lived in Liverpool, he would be most irritated and would insist that he lives ‘just outside’ Liverpool in a place called Maghull. The significance is beyond me but as it seems to help Donald feel as though he is a country gent, so be it.
Jane was in the throes describing to beloved, the particulars of a recent family gathering when Donald came in from the back garden in an agitated state. “There’s something nasty in the garden and it’s looking at me!” he cried tugging her sleeve. So animated was Donald that Jane politely terminated the telephone conversation and went to see just what all the fuss was about.
It transpired that Donald had found what he thought was a living doggy poop. It looked like a poop, it sat on the floor like a poop, it was the same colour as a poop but the obvious problem was that Jane and Donald do not have a dog and their garden is completely enclosed by a ‘keep the neighbours kids out’, quality grade of slatted wooden fencing.
Jane photographed the now mobile doggy poop as it trucked around the garden heading towards a convenient Fuchsia bush. Donald, an expert in the science of heedlessness, poked the increasingly peripatetic doggy poop with a stick, in the time honoured fashion and ‘watched it go’. He then flicked it, with his trusty stick, into a glass jar where he considers that ‘all the things of nature’ should be kept.
Jane shot into the house, retrieved her iPad and photographed it sending the utterly dire shots to me for analysis. After some head scratching a realisation came to me. I needed to apply some shampoo to this head whilst standing under the shower. This aside, I looked up every type of living poop known to human-kind and totally and utterly failed to identify it.
My analysis ran thus. Was it a bird? No. – Was it a plane? No. – Was it a reptile? – Possibly some sort of strange looking snake, as it seemed to have eyes at one end… and a mouth. (If it wasn’t a mouth, then… my goodness can that thing eat!) Was it a Doggy Poop? – Almost certainly not. Records show that I have poked many a doggy poop with a stick and to date, none of them have run away.
Following Sherlock Holmes’ maxim in these matters. (Not so much ‘…when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ But my own, less exhausting ‘…if at first you don’t succeed. Buggerit!’) I quickly, in my very own time honoured fashion, gave up.
An hour later the phone rang and again it was Jane. She had been in contact with a higher authority and the wee beastie had been identified! It was the caterpillar of the Giant Hawk Moth, weighing in at nearly three inches, in real money. The caterpillar was taken, safely in its jar, by Donald and released into the field at the end of their road.
Jane continued reading her ‘higher authority’, ‘The Observer’s Book Of Mobile Doggy Poops’ to be advised that this particular caterpillar likes to eat Fuchsia for breakfast, dinner and tea. On his return, Donald was ordered back to the field, which sports only a monoculture of winter cabbage, armed with his jar and his stick, in attempt to recapture said caterpillar and re-relocate it back to it’s preferred Fuchsia bush in the back garden. He is still looking even now…
It was reported in the Liverpool Echo, the trusty local rag, that a large caterpillar had stopped the Number 19 bus, bought a ticket which it promptly ate… and headed off towards Maghull Garden Centre in search of supper.