Tuesday 10 February 2009

The murder of Timmy Tiptoes so that Squirrel Nutkin can live off the fat of the land.

They're killing grey squirrels in southern Scotland, and they think they can soften the reality of it by changing a vowel and using an alternate consonant. They call it a 'cull'. It is an effort to increase the red squirrel population in the area. The grey squirrels apparently carry some kind of squirrelpox virus, which has no effect on them but kills off red squirrels.

Naturalists and landowners are joining forces today in a drive to effectively wipe out the grey squirrel from northern Scotland. It is believed to be the largest cull of a mammal yet seen in the UK, with many tens of thousands of grey squirrels expected to be trapped and killed under the government-sponsored project and shot on sight, legally, by landowners.

I was followed around Kew Gardens in London for a whole day by a pair of red squirrels. It was my birthday and I spent it jiving with some squirrels, feeding them brazil nuts, until we met a peacock who felt he deserved them better. He didn't get any. His wife snatched my last brazil nut out of my hand and swallowed it down while I learned something about practicality and the distractions of prettiness. I also got a very sore thumb from chipping at the nuts with my thumbnail. Brazil nuts are hard.

I think it is a terrible pity that humans are intervening in the natural wild profligacy of our friend, personally known to me as the Brooklyn Squirrel. I wonder if Tate and Thea have heard about this? They live in London now. They would HAPPILY make the journey north to help in any way they could to save the noble red squirrels from the pestilent grey one. Um, and then they will HAPPILY eat the red one too, because, uh, you never know.

But really, what are they using: baseball bats? Is this like a baby seal thing? I hear there's a shoot on sight policy. Shooting squirrels? Don't they see how this will be hijacked as a license to vent violent energies without fear of chastisement? Is this why they are really doing it?

And what will be done with the meat?


  1. Boy squirrels apparently have enormous balls, so I learned from an Englishman. He knows a fellow who hunts and eats game and is quite comfortable with dressing and cooking what he kills . . . with the exception of squirrels. The preparation makes him a tad queasy; as you splay a dead squirrel out, the anthropomorphic Squirrel Nutkin aspect is uncomfortably evident. (Could account for all those presumably droll dioramas of stuffed squirrels enacting scenes from human life.)

    And: they've got these disproportionately huge balls.

    The morning I learned this fun fact about our furry friends, I went for a walk in the woods near my house, and a pseudo-Elizabethan epithet popped into my head, so I shouted it in my pseudo-Elizabethan actor's voice.

    "Squirrel's bollocks!"

    The woman who came jogging along the path from the opposite direction pretended she hadn't heard. Just went on running.

  2. They always always do that. Very occasionally, they will look at you slyly, in curiosity or fear. It is what you get when you have a tendency to talk out loud to yourself in public. I have always sung out loud, and chatted away to myself about all sorts of things, like I was chatting to a friend. Do you do this too? I would love to have a chat with people who talk to themselves in public, about our experiences.

  3. Eat the meat. I don't know if the greys (and you're right it should be grey not gray but that's another post) are as big or agressive as they've gotten in NYC, but watch out! First they will come for the reds, and then they will come for you!

    Inspired me to post a squirrel thing myself.


  4. Cool. I will read it. If there was a link to this post, that would, I belive, be called a Pingback. That is the technical term.

  5. In addition to the diseases the grey squirrel carry, I believe there is also a nationalist aspect to the reason they are "culled."

    Apparently, the squirrels were unintentionally introduced to the UK when brought over from America as pets by the jet setters (or ocean liner setters, as it were) of the time. Then, when they realized how awful squirrels were as pets, they were released into the wild and soon began to take over the population.

    There was a recent news story here in the states where they postured that the greys were being removed as a point of national pride. It was very weird.

  6. It seems that I just repeated the article. My apologies.

  7. Godammit, where once there were people like Glendower and Macbeth doing in the Sassanachs in straightforward fashion, now there are just bloody semidetached 'landowners' clubbing baby squirrels who once sailed the seas and clink clinked their cockedtails on the deck.

    What has it come to?