Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Baby Slugs


In spite of the unusually hot weather here in the UK it’s nonetheless the very beginning of Autumn. The leaves are browning, the witches are polishing their balls in preparation for Hallowe’en — and my kitchen is awash with baby slugs.

I have no idea how this happens, or why it only happens at this particular time of year, but every morning since last Friday, I’ve risen to discover slugs by the half a half a dozen slithering their way along my supposedly gastropod-unfriendly lino. In the dawn’s virgin light, it’s possible to see their silvery trails weaving between the chair legs, under the fridge and partially up the wall via numerous treacherous skirting boards. I don’t know whether they’re racing, idling around or simply acting on some genetic predisposition to wazz me off big time but there’s only one thing for it once I’ve spotted them, and in the absence of an M&S Slug Getter Upper (similar in function to the eco-friendly Wasp Leash for those pesky bobbers about a-window), I bundle them into a sheet of kitchen roll and toss them in the wormery.

Today, there were four such slimy off-wazzers, and I still can’t make my mind up whether they were a quartet, a pair of duos or a trio and a solo artiste — or four independently awkward mucusy entrepreneurs. To be honest, at 6.30 in the morning it’s the kind of speculation I can do without.

As ever, once they were out of the way I settled in front of the TV with a plate of muffins to catch some early morning drivel — interestingly, today, an interview with a maths professor who has devised an equation for tracking the relationship between the width of David Cameron’s mouth and the weight of his cheeks in preparation for the PM’s inevitable evolution into a curmudgeonly old fat man — and that’s when I noticed Numero Funf winding its way over the carpet towards the front door.

At first, I thought it was trying to escape. It’s what you’d do when you’re an illegal immigrant and the cops have rumbled your mates: make a beeline back to the border. Tossing my muffins aside, I leapt up to confront it, annoyed to be witnessing its rubbery foulness as I chomped my breakfast into a similarly textured mush. That’s when I saw how far it had travelled, this tiny slug no bigger than a sliver of grated cheese (albeit brown cheese). My carpet is no Axminster, but it’s got quite a pile on it. To this slug, each protrusion of twilled wool must have been like a thick, fuzzy spear. I couldn’t tell which direction it had taken because the spears were clearly so absorbent they’d soaked up the silveryness of its trail. Whichever way it had come, it must have travelled at least ten feet, all the time having its limited supplies of mobility-enhancing mucus sucked from under it. So how come it hadn’t shrivelled to a twiggy husk? And why didn’t it just stop and wait for the gastropod emergency services? As I hovered over it, watching it battle on, with its wibbly bits swaying from side to side, it seemed to me that here was a very determined creature indeed (in the sense that a slug can be determined as we humans understand the term). Maybe I’m Disneyfying the little ole thing, but — my — what a battler this guy was. Could this be The Little Engine That Could for the Noughties? Hugo the Litter Baby Slug? Look, toddlers all, how his indefatigable spirit and pluck drives him on in the face of all obstacles, how he will grow to triumph in all endeavours as a well-rounded and courageous adult! Marvel at his vim, his spunk! Cheer as he battles the forces of evil with his trusty sidekick, Weirdneck the Ant!

For a moment I was away with the children’s book fairies, and had even begun designing merchandise to accompany the series — like Hugo wristwatch straps and salt shakers — when Drivel TV reminded me of the time.

So I bundled Hugo onto an egg spoon, out into the garden, and strode from my house into the arid nightmare world of late 2011 England, emboldened as a knight of the realm inspired by the slimiest of will o the wisps.




8 comments:

Old Kitty said...

Charlie the cat lets slugs stay in his tail, rent-free - the big softee! Take care
x

catdownunder said...

Could we hire your services?

Whirlochre said...

Old Kitty
Geoff never went in for slugs. She was more of a moth 'n' vol au vent sort of a cat.

Catdownunder
I'm up for anything payable in nachos...

stacy said...

But they're lucky slugs. You're very kind to take them to the garden.

Whirlochre said...

Stacy
Especially as they appear to have regrouped overnight...

fairyhedgehog said...

So your next book is sorted then. I hadn't got you down as a children's author.

McKoala said...

Which brings me to my next question. Where's Jagger?

Sylvia said...

Mrs TRALINGL could tell you exactly how to marinate these for the best flavour. ;)