Saturday, 16 October 2004


Just as I was leaving the house this evening, I saw a blackbird in the garden. I retrieved the latest gowk from the compost.

Walking up the path that runs by the dene, I met a toad.

Sometimes it's like a jungle out there.

I've always been rather fond of toads. I never quite forgave my mother for making me take back the one I found in Saltwell Park all those years ago. After all, she let me keep the tiddlers, and they all died.

In the gloom, I almost trod on the toad. Only the fact that he might have been a turd saved him. He was looking pretty miserable. You may think it's difficult to tell whether a toad is miserable or not. Trust me, he was miserable.

Maybe it was because his normally rough and leathery skin was slicked with rain, or maybe he was just, you know, having one of those days. A kind of toady brown study.

Sitting there on the path was not in his best interests, and I told him so. I'm not averse to carrying on conversations with animals, providing no-one is looking, so I explained that just where he was sitting, the Future of the Nation normally hang out, drinking lager, smerkin' tabs, scribbling their infantile messages on the fence and generally cussing as much as the sentence will allow.

"They will make short work of you, I can assure you," I warned.

I bent down to pick him up. He hopped a couple of hops towards the hedge. But that seemed to be it. I tapped him with my finger. No more hopping took place.

Since I did actually have shopping to do and it was pissing down, I figured bold moves were called for.

Very carefully, with the edge of my foot, I slid him, and the leaves he was sitting on, under the hedge.

"Thanks, bonny lad," he said, " I couldn't have hopped another inch."

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