You may know that our hero Agent Bertram lives in Bloomsbury, London and works for The Sovereign Intelligence Ministry as the poor sap who has to keep Prince Philip out of trouble. This used to be a full time job but it’s less so nowadays as Phil The Greek, as I call him, is getting a bit long in the tooth for hell-raising and now has to content himself with hiding in the closets around Buckingham Palace waiting to pounce on an unwary maid. If he catches one it’s usually not a major worry as he can no longer remember what to do when he has caught her. He usually forgets why he was hiding there and stands in the closet slowly gathering dust. Agent Bertram often has to make a search for the Prince after The Queen reports him missing. There are lots of closets in the palace.
Another little known fact about Phil The Greek is that, although he was born in Greece to Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg, of that well known confectionary dynasty, he only lived there for a short while as a baby. Philip’s parents, upon realising just what a handful he was, soon shipped him off to be educated in France, in the UK and in Germany, where he spent most of his formative years learning how to be an overbearing upper class twit.
Phil’s age, infirmity and associated mobility problems, nowadays give Agent Bertram a certain amount of free time, allowing him to pop over to The Netherlands to help out their Secret Service, working in Amsterdam. Our Royal Family here in the UK are great chums with The Royals in The Netherlands so this bit of mutual back scratching works out very nicely.
This brings me neatly to segue onto the topic of tadpoles! “How do you make the connection there William?” do I hear you say? Well the answer is, “Water!” The Netherlands has lots and lots of water and tadpoles live in it. Connection made!
After a careful scientific analysis I have come to the conclusion that this spring has not been kind to our Scottish Tadpoles. The weather has been pish. Cold temperatures abound and it has not stopped raining. Contrary to popular opinion, tadpoles do not like rain. Imagine trying to dodge water droplets that are the same size as your torso and you may catch my drift.
Our tadpole pool was dug in order to give Positive Discrimination For Tadpoles and therefore also for Frogs, Toads and Newts. This year, we had the usual batch of frogspawn laid carefully into the pond by dedicated lady frogs, each with a smaller male frog on her back, doing what male frogs do, fertilising the eggs as they issued forth.
We did have one lady frog who seemed to be a bit slow on the uptake, opting for a male on her back and another on her front. The combined weight of these two lovers prevented her from making it all the way to the pool and she proceeded to lay her spawn next to our car tyre. I did what any decent chap would do under the circumstances and chucked the three of them into the pond to complete their froggie ménage à trois in water and then washed the spawn from our parking area onto a dustpan which I carefully placed into the pool alongside the rampant randy three.
Adding to the problems that our tadpoles faced this year, has been an excess of dragonfly larvae. These little blighters are voracious eaters of tadpoles and they have decimated our taddie population.
The negative effect of the dragonfly larvae on tadpole numbers has been so drastic that action has had to be taken. Your brave author chum taped a tea strainer to an old walking pole and has spent many an evening braving the local midges to fish dragonfly larvae out of the pond.
I gave them ample warning and put up an official notice next to the water’s edge saying, ‘Warning! Dragonfly Larvae will be forcibly relocated if caught in this pond!’ They ignored it! Every man jack of them! So the deal is now this: if a larva is found in the pond it is caught in my special Secret Agent larvae-catching-net-device and flicked into the undergrowth, usually with a family of mistle thrushes in hot pursuit.
Last evening, using my trusty net I ejected six dragonfly larvae, one of which, I swear, was the size of a small badger! The little bounder tried to bite its way to freedom through the net! I gave it an extra strong flick and lost the little git in a swathe of yellow flag iris that adorns the steep slope down from our house to the local riverbank. Oops!
My friend Pete, who is wise, sage and learned in the matters of wildlife, the other day gave me a short lecture on the balance of nature and how it is wrong to promote one species above another. He is involved with a local project that is reintroducing beavers into Argyll so he had already shot his own argument in the foot. I was ready for him and intended putting forward my own advanced theory about Positive Discrimination For Tadpoles. It ran thus: frogs eat midges and the more frogs we have, the less midges will be around to eat me. I’m afraid that when my turn arrived to advance my highbrow cutting-edge theory, I completely forgot my argument and could only issue forth, “Bollocks to that Pete. I want my tadpoles and I’m jolly well going to have them! So there, matey boy!”