Don't give me cute, squirrels do my nut in '“ Susan Morrison
Hush your wailing and dry your tears for the white squirrel recently totalled by a motor. I remain unmoved. Call me monstrous if you like, but I have waged war on these fluffy-tailed tree rats for many a year and see Ânothing to vex me in the passing of one of their beady-eyed number.
These grey interlopers have no place in our countryside, or, indeed, our city centres. They are imports from America, like trick or treat, Coca-Cola and that other white-haired menace, Boris Johnson. The Brexit Blond Bombshell was born in New York. Technically, this means he could run for President of the United States. He might win. The Americans love that Downton Abbey stuff and they’ve never got over chucking out royalty to run the shop. For a republic they can get well enthusiastic over posh people.
Given the mess Bojo has managed to create in this country, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear Boris spouting the Star Spangled Banner and hitting the campaign trail, although whether our American cousins could stand another dodgy hair do in the Oval Office is a moot point. Grey squirrels are a pest. Don’t get me wrong. When I first saw them in any numbers, in the Botanic Gardens, natch, I thought them lovely and cute and straight out of Disney.
It’s an easy mistake to make. I am a child of 1960s and 70s urban Scotland. My early childhood was in a Glasgow still dominated by slums. Anything that was Not A Pet was defined as wildlife and it either flew, or had more than four legs and could therefore be legitimately stomped on.
Even later, when I ran about in Dunoon, we didn’t see them, mainly because the red squirrel still had a stronghold on the Argyll peninsula, and they are as good at staying in the shadows as a red-haired lassie on a beach holiday in Spain.
For us, squirrels were the exotic imaginings of Beatrix Potter. They were unbearably twee and spoke with Home Counties accents whenever they appeared on children’s television.
So, I will admit that our first encounter, I, like everyone else, went awwww and rushed off to the Gatehouse Shop to buy a bag of nuts to feed the squirrels.
Why, I even laughed when one of them seized a nut and jumped on my then two-year-old daughter’s head. Gosh, what cheeky little chappies! What fun! Then I slowly began to look behind the fluffy tail and that wiggly nose thing they do.
It took a while for the mask to fall and for me to realise we were essentially being cute-mugged in the Gardens.
The mask fell even further when I watched them carry out a highly organised mass dig of the bulbs we had lovingly planted in our back garden.
Flat tree-rats didn’t listen to Tufty
There was, of course, another squirrel who appeared in my childhood, every bit as exotic as Nutkin. Tufty was a giant red squirrel who came into the assembly hall of my primary school to scare us rigid and to teach us about road safety.
All together now, look right, look left, look right again.
Using an over-sized squirrel to teach children about road safety is a terrible irony. A quick drive along virtually any road in Scotland will tell you that the kids might have paid attention to Tufty, but the squirrels didn’t.
Last week you could have made a fairly decent roadkill casserole with the remains strewn about the M8. There was plenty of squirrel meat, and at least one badger.
If No Deal Brexit pans out the way it’s threatening to do, I predict tribal wars between Livingston and Broxburn over the flattened spoils of the fast lane.
Needled by the wandering Yuletide triffid
We paid attention to the sign that told us when to put our Christmas tree for collection and followed the instructions to the letter and the minute.
Sadly, it sat there for days. Every time we left the house or looked out of the window, there it was, drooping quietly. Not even the squirrels went near it.
Then I noticed it was moving. Every morning it had shifted slightly. Honestly, it was trying to get back in the gate, like some sort of zombie tree or a Yuletide triffid.
I did what any woman would do under the circumstances. I told my husband to put it by the big bins at the end, with the others. With any luck, it wouldn’t find its way back.
It’s gone now. In fact, they’ve all vanished. I find that slightly more worrying.
Still game Moira is my kind of gal
I must ask Moira Hepburn what she has for breakfast. The Edinburgh granny was presented with new technology at her old job, but she just said, nah, not for me and promptly took up a part-time job being a visitor to elderly folk. She’s 82. Legend.