I hadn’t gone with them that night

I wouldn’t have been in this terrible plight

It sounded like fun

A long-distance run

By the light of the moon

And I felt so in tune

With nature that night

Well it just goes to show

Its not who you know

That makes it alright

To go with the flow

If you know what I mean

And my new shoes were clean

And my coat was Designer

Couldn’t be finer

When I set out

On that ill-fated rout

We all ran together

Ignoring the weather

But rain turned to ice

Stinging like rice

My nose turned to red

And I wished I were dead

There seemed no relief

It was quite past belief

And then Beachy Head

Loomed up ahead

And over we went

Like lemmings hell-bent

On dying en masse

But what came to pass

Was a hot-air balloon

Not a moment too soon

Such a glorious sight

“Oh save us!” we shouted

“We’ll hug you and kiss you!”

“Not worth it” they answered

“And no-one will miss you

It serves you all right!”

And ballooned out of sight

That was the end

Of our long-distance run

And now I’m in heaven

It’s really quite fun

But what if I hadn’t joined in with their spree

I could have had crumpets and honey for tea!












Rook was busy on the Motorway, he tore and dragged at a flattened carcase while his adolescent offspring stood on the hard shoulder, clamouring.

Balancing risk against necessity, Rook stuffed his beak and crop, leaving it until the last moment as articulated juggernauts rolled by, shaking the ground. He rose on oily-black wings, flapping towards the row of gaping throats. His children stood like three little rag-bags, wings a-quiver, screaming for food. He stuffed their beaks with dusty morsels, then, dodging the traffic, returned for more.

Again and again he visited the squashed carcase, snatching at fur and flesh, fighting off competing scavengers, sometimes loosing a few more feathers, as he played “last across” with speeding Porsches.

Rook was a bigamist; this wasn’t his only family. Alternating with the first lot he would rise from the fumes and slope away towards a twiggy nest in a wood on the opposite side. Every year white eggs would hatch, skinny naked chicks opening wide demanding mouths, both wives shrieking for more of his time. Sometimes he wondered if this was all there was to life.

Soon the first-hatched fledglings would attempt to follow him to the middle of the road. Early on a Sunday morning this might be possible, but in the rush-hour on a weekday…well!

He was delayed by an army convoy thundering by, camouflaged monsters almost nose to tail. He waited by a dandelion on the central barrier. The carcase was obliterated by clouds of dust. Overcome by greed the young rooks hurled themselves towards their father. Black feathers whirled above the road, tiny corpses splattering blood on speeding windscreens. It was over.

Rook looked across and saw that his children were gone. He pulled a yellow petal from the dandelion, then rose and flapped slowly away on heavy wings.


He had a go at many things
All in strict rotation:
Pelmanism, Christian Science,
And Deep Sea Navigation.

Riding Horses, Roller-Skates,
(He ended up in plaster).
Studying the Stars and Fates,
(That was a disaster).

Potted Meat and Picnics,
And Camping by the River;
Keeping up with Father
Sent us all a-quiver!

He joined the Home Guard, did his bit.
As shrapnel showered down
He fought the fires, and faced the blitz
To save old London Town.

Now the Man of Many Interests
Has new interests in hand,
Bungee-jumping with the Angels
In happy Neverland.




I am no David Attenborough when it comes to nature invading my personal space. I turned back the duvet, preparing to take to my bed at the end of a busy day when something small and black met my eye. A spider! A huge spider! Shock! Horror! Help!!! Giving a short, sharp scream (to which no one responded) I flung the duvet back over the beast.

My room is kitted out on all sides with the latest anti-spider gimmicks: The principal weapon against invaders is an electric plug-in winking red light which distributes supersonic sound waves in all directions. Spiders are supposed to run for their lives at the first bleep, scampering into remote corners before escaping out into the wide world. Here, presumably, they reassemble in spider-camps where they discuss at length how to regain control of their territory – up plug holes, under doors, slinking into abandoned wellies, hoping for a lift.

And every ledge and beam in my bedroom is crowded with conkers – supposed to discourage the eight-legged intruders (do they find climbing over them too difficult? Or do the conkers give off an offensive, or even poisonous aroma?)

There is only one solution. Death. Sometimes I am brave enough (in the case of smaller spiders) to capture them under a glass, sliding a postcard under, and carrying the whole thing to the far side of the garden. I also have a long-handled transparent affair with scissor-type handle. You are supposed to trap the offender in a little box on the end by remote control. This works to a certain extent, but tends to leave a few legs outside the box on the floor, and, although a slight improvement on eight, what is the point of setting free a three or four legged spider?

For outsize XXXL spiders it has to be final. I lugged the Cat and Dog Vacuum cleaner through, plugged in and switched on. It roared into action.

Gingerly I began to turn back the duvet. Suddenly I realised that this was no spider: big and furry, but no spider. It was a bat! Little friend of all the world! (supposedly). I switched off and considered the situation. Clearly the creature was seeking a secret place to creep into and snuggle down for the winter. While I had every sympathy, there are times, living in a barn as I do, that nature gets the upper hand, and this was one of them. I was not about to share my bed with it. It must go. But I couldn’t bring myself to condemn it to death by Cat and Dog Vacuum.

I fetched a damp tea-towel from the kitchen, covered the sleeping mite, gathered it up and took it outside. Balanced on an old wooden post, it awoke, shuddered, shook its furry black torso, spread its surprisingly wide umbelliferous leatherette wings, and fluttered off into the night. Didn’t even pause to say Thank You!

A few weeks later a queen wasp crawled in with me in the small hours and stung me on my middle finger, ungrateful bed-fellow, but that is another story. A bat in my bed is enough to be going on with.