In the news “this week”, although really “weeks ago”, much excitement about the rat who was filmed jogging past the house in which the democratically elected emperor of the United Kingdom lives. There have been calls for the introduction of a cat, who I suppose would be the “rat-catching tsar”, but that doesn’t seem close to happening – someone in there must be allergic to cats or something.
It is well-known that, when a lady and her van took up a funny sort of residence outside his house, Alan Bennett was able to squeeze an entire franchise out of the experience. Mr Cameron should not be so lucky, because rats do not know how to speak, whereas the lady from off of The Lady in the Van did. There is a whole genre of films dedicated to perpetuating the myth that rats are in fact capable of speech – some of them even have the audacity to suggest that there exists a system whereby a rat can control a cook by pulling at certain tufts of hair – but those things are all lies, and, come to think of it, ought to be stopped before any serious damage is done.
Perhaps it will emerge soon that the rat is not a real rat, and is actually a human wearing a special suit, who will be able to say and do amusing things that are ripe for inclusion in a profitable book after all. Perhaps.
As a prime minister, Mr Cameron will be entitled to a generous pension, so his inevitable miffedness probably doesn’t run too deep. Nonetheless, I do share any of the pain that he does feel, because I am in a similar situation. “Similar”, but not identical, because while he has a rat, we have a deer. Yes, in your face, David Cameron. A deer is far better than a rat – a bit less compact, but better all the same.
(Even so, deers are no more capable of speech than what rats are – again, despite what Walter Disney and friends would have you believe.)
On Friday (also weeks ago, but when the Downing Street rat was still zeitgeisty) I was flung out of a stupor by the news that there was a deer in the “garage”, which here means “outbuilding in which the motor car sleeps” and not “service station”. Kicking on some socks, I scuttled outwards and there, blinking dimly in the watery moonlight of a battery-operated torch lightbulb, was a monster. Some sinister genius had performed surgery on a rabbit’s head, rearranging the facial features to bring about a more than passing resemblance to that incessant Wikipedia man. The head had then strapped onto the body of a sheep, whose skin had been blasted with a humid spray of dark poster paint. A monster, it was.
Actually, no it was a just a deer, but Mr Daily Mail is widely read, and he does that sort of alarmed scandal business, and I thought that I might be able to snaffle some of his potatoes for myself. I shall soon find out whether it works.
The deer stood there, breathing, and then it ran off, coming up against my legs. It was startled by the legs, like a robin that had encountered a sheet of colourless solid. It pushed between my legs, and was nowhere to be seen. (Perhaps it had marched up my trousers, but when I checked, it had slipped back out again.)
The passing of time. Hello.
The following Sunday, I wandered in the direction of a gate, based upon the crazy idea that I might like to open it and pass through. Next to the gate, I happened upon that very same deer. It must have been up to some unspeakable mischiefs, for it immediately dashed to bury its head in some proverbial sand, which consisted of a thickly overgrown bush, and the rest of its body was quick to follow behind. Its tricks did not work, because I had seen it, and could see right though the wool that had been ineffectually strewn in the general direction of my eyes – vegetation, even that of the thickly overgrown sort, being less dense than the likes of sand, is an unconvincing substitute in terms of the concealment of deer. The metaphorical wool in my eyes was transparent, I suppose – “glass wool” does happen to be a thing already, but that is irrelevant, because I didn’t contract eye cancer.
Immediately the deer was to regret its hasty shyness, now appearing to be trapped within the prickly thicket. It paced back and forth between low branches, as if Moses might appear wielding a chainsaw. Like a headless chicken, yes – a conceit, incidentally, that hungry foxes everywhere will be familiar with. (“Incidentally”, because foxes and deers are different, but please remember that the deer was little, about the size of what I expect a fox to be, so confusion is inevitable.)
The time had come for me to open the gate, and so I did. Many people like to walk through such openings, and I’ve been guilty of that unimaginitivity myself on a number of occasions, but this time was different – I wanted to sail through magnificently with a bicycle clamped between my thighs, in slow motion, with dramatic music and cheers from adoring fans all around, before awkwardly stopping to close the gate behind me. An unmissable chance that is not to be missed, quite, but before I could set off, the deer magically disentangled itself from the clump of growth, and sprinted through the gaping gateway, across the road, over a ditch, into a field. Freedom had prevailed. It was a beautiful moment, which in the presence of onions would have made me more vulnerable to them.
The vision of the bicycle clamped between thighs is magnificent, like what I said, but it hurts after not very long, and one must ameliorate the soreness by stopping and and performing a cheeky glance around around. This procedure was quick to start, and around I glanced, my eyes drinking in the milieu. This comprised trees, dampness, grass, soil, and the startling display of that deer bounding back across the road, into the garden of the next house to the one in which I reside.
If you are a regular reader – and, really, who is? – then you’ll remember dearly how we came came across that household some time ago. In the company of a deer, that wretched man is unlikely to behave correctly. I would expect him to do exactly what my definitely sufficient research suggests that he always does – cough in a raucous way, and be offered tea. Not to behave, in other words, in a way that would please a quadrupedal mammal. Deers must struggle to drink tea the proper way, stumbling at the particular hurdle of holding the cup, so to take tea with a deer is to viciously poke fun at its laughable incompetence. No way to treat a deer. The deer is wasted on that man. If only the deer would return to where it knows it belongs.
Alas, no sign of the deer since. Obviously, the void of time between these events happening and their being recorded here has everything to do with my belief that the idea that the deer might reappear (!) at some point – such a Jesus- or Robbie Williams–like reunion would provide this article with some kind of point – and nothing to do with my being lazy. It’s a shame. I wonder, maybe the deer was capable of speech – perhaps I just needed to initiate the conversation myself. Of course. In that play, the lady is asked, for example, “How long have you been living in the van.” This is a tried and tested question, which has been shown to be capable of producing an answer from a person living outside one’s house – to wit: “Who says I live there? I may spend the night there on occasion but its only a pied-à-terre.”