ALARMING SCENES here in the Morriston Opium Fields, though to be honest, things have been a bit weird for a few days. It started with squirrels, but then it often does. They have been nibbling away at the poppy heads in the garden, and that never ends particularly well.
I knew Monday was not going to be a good day when a bird flew straight into the bedroom window when I was having my cup of tea. It was sign, ‘The time is out of joint—O cursed spite, That ever I was born to set it right.’ Hamlet often comes to mind, first thing in the morning, don’t you find?
Oh. Just me then. Never mind. Where was I?
Oh yes. Every year it is the same. The CIA helicopters hovering over the garden, disguised as the Air Ambulance, monitoring the harvest. I think they secretly spray the garden with Agent Orange or something which is why my onions are rubbish but then perhaps I am just paranoid.
But you see, it is all about the poppies, because it is an actual fact, apparently, that all poppy seeds contain miniscule amounts of opium. And The Poxy Squirrel had been eating them. Rather too many, which is why things started to go a bit freaky on Sunday afternoon.
I have to tell you, I have previous with squirrels. Some got into the loft a few years back. Chewed through all the electrical wiring. Cost me a fortune. Had to get a man in and everything.
It was Julian the Squirrel Slayer who came round and he laid traps smeared with peanut butter. Like big mouse traps they were. ‘How will we know if we have caught one?’ (‘of the buggers,’ I added, for local colour. I think he was impressed. ) ‘Easy,’ he said, for he was wise in the ways of squirrels. I envied him his calm authority. ‘You will find bluebottles in your airing cupboard.’ And we did, for Julian knew almost all there was to know about squirrels – apart from the fact that one of the varmits drowned himself in the central heating expansion tank and the gas man had to come six months later and scoop the bugger out with a beaker, but that is a story for another day. It was gross, to be honest, but as a consequence I don’t much like squirrels.
So anyway, on Sunday there was The Poxy Squirrel sitting on the fence with a faraway look in its beady, evil, eyes, squawking like a seagull anxious to audition for a part in Macbeth. Honestly. I have seen Macbeth a few times, so I know.
I threw a stone at it because it was getting on my nerves. Missed of course ( my aim is not what it used to be) which meant that The Poxy Squirrel relocated to a tree and then continued to squawk in a rather petulant and insulting way, I thought. I found another stone but I pulled a muscle when I tried to throw it and if you are the woman who was jogging past then I am really sorry and it wasn’t intentional.
So I was on the look-out for The Poxy Squirrel on Monday, with a fresh armoury of stones. Monday was the day when my allotted task was to re-sow my French beans. They had grown really well, early too, and then the bloody slugs turned up and ate them all. Sawed off the tops of them. Every one. Don’t you just hate slugs? What is their actual point? It is not as if they can use a mobile phone, is it? Though I do get messages in my spam folder from an adult dating site that might have come…but I digress.
You see, slugs, are an evolutionary cul-de-sac, if you ask me. And deliberately awkward. I have leopard slugs in the garden, which are them slugs what are supposed to eat other slugs. Except mine are New Age and have gone veggie. My advice? Never trust a slug. So I was scattering these ‘modern’ slug pellets around to protect my beans ( in this case, ‘modern’ means useless, as any gardener will tell you.) And I found a mouse. A proper mouse, you understand. Whiskers, fur, tail, the lot. Staggering around beneath the poppies, presumably feasting on the scraps The Poxy Squirrel had left behind on the ground. I prodded it with my shoe and it rolled over on to its back and waved its paws in the air for a while. Then it turned itself over and stuck its nose under a leaf and started to shake a bit, whispering, ‘Listen to the pretty colours…’. Probably this was the most beautiful leaf it had ever seen in its life.
I watched it for a while. It was like a first year engineering student sitting outside a ‘Spoons at midnight who realises that he is wearing someone else’s trousers with a half-eaten fish finger in the pocket but can’t remember how any of it happened.
I have to assume the mouse was a hapless victim of the drugs trade. You know how it is, an innocent rodent, stable family, sheltered life, brought up only on Tesco Cheddar ( Extra Mild) suddenly introduced to something harder; there can be no going back once you are hooked on Morriston Poppy. A downward spiral, which ends with you giggling mindlessly in a hedge behind Morriston Hospital, all self-respect abandoned. Every junkie is like a setting sun, as Neil Young said, and if the local felines had found this drug-addled vagrant then that would have been a blood-red sunset, if you see what I mean.
I scooped it up into a plant pot, where it sat vacantly, whilst I carried it up into the field and put it into the hedgerow, which from now on will be called ‘Rehab.’ I put it on the side of the stream and it slithered ( presumably still giggling) down into the water. It floated for a moment on its back, like an old man doing backstroke, and then dragged itself out when it bumped into a tree root.
I decided to leave. I could sense that the mouse had issues and might get clingy. No one wants that, obviously. I mean, I don’t feel guilty. I don’t regard myself as a dealer or a supplier. I just grow stuff in the garden. If bloody rodents steal from my bloody garden, then it isn’t my bloody responsibility…
OK, you are right. I should put up warning notices, I can see that. Something along the lines of ‘Licking razor blades is dangerous.’ So I am currently working on a discreet sign, like ‘Don’t eat the poppies or you will find yourself putting your head inside a cat’s mouth,’ but to be frank, I don’t think I have got the wording right. Not snappy enough.
I am a bit concerned that today the mouse will turn up with a blanket and a beetle on a lead and ask the sparrows if they have any small change. Or it might turn up with another mouse, one wearing sandals and with purple fur. You know as well as I do, things always become so complicated when a rodent turns up with its social worker.
I ‘ll keep you posted
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