Saturday, February 21, 2009

More Vole News

Yesterday evening we were in Winchester to hear Professor Barry Cunliffe talk about "Roman Rural Settlement on the Hampshire Chalklands".

As we arrived at the Winchester Guldhall, we saw a long queue outside. I looked closely at the guy nearest me, who was wearing a slightly worn and somewhat-stained cardigan. "Excuse me," I said, "what are you queuing for?"

"The wrestling, mate." he replied, "If yer for the lecture, you can go right in."

I thanked him politely and we were directed to the main lecture hall, which rapidly filled to capacity with a sea of grey-haired men and women, not one of whom appeared to be younger than 55.

About half-way through the one hour lecture, as the Professor was describing excavations only a few miles from where we live, we began to hear hear excited, amplified shouting faintly through the walls, followed by muted thumps and groans.

Earlier that day, Clare had devoted deep thought to the Vole Problem. We discussed dying our black-furred cat a shade of fluorescent green to give the endangered local voles some warning, but I pointed out that cats - unlike humans - lick their fur incessantly, so Shadow would probably die a horrific death by poisoning.

Instead, she bought some aromatherapy Peppermint fluid and this was sprinkled on to Shadow's collar. I remained silent about the propensity of the hunter to hunt upwind.

We returned home from the lecture to find one dead vole in the living room, and another one scurrying around in the kitchen. After much effort, I finally caught the latter and threw it out the back window.

This morning, the cat was sniffing around the fireplace when I got up. I looked and rejected. Surely any vole in the ashes would be baked. Don't say the cat had finally learned to cook its food!

Eentually I decided to clear the ashes out. Yes, cowering in the back corner with its nose sticking up through a hole in the grate was a little twitching bundle of fluff.

The vole, covered in ash and heavy-metal residue, was duly transported to the front garden, from where I feel we shall shortly meet it again.

Any bright ideas, do let me know. Clare has taken to silently mouthing the word "muzzle" so you can see where this is going.