I wrote recently about the resurgence of wildlife along the riverside development in Bath. How nooks and crannies in the new walkways are being adopted as homes by moorhens and the like. Well, now things have gone too far. Something very large, very noisy and I might say, very chewy seems to have taken up residence in the cavity wall next to my bed. Horrible crunching noises, far too near to my sleepy head for comfort, wake me on a regular basis. It’s a modern building so I doubt the thing, whatever it is, can make it beyond the plasterboard, but in the half-light and sans spectacles I keep imagining a little whiskery nose suddenly appearing through the wallpaper. Or a beak?
The funniest wildlife /human interface I ever witnessed was on holiday in the Seychelles (blimey, was I ever that rich?). There was a South African fashion shoot going on and at breakfast two of the pretentious spray-tanned crew complained bitterly about the pretty sugar birds that regularly hopped around on the dining room tables pecking at stray crumbs. ‘You don’t like our birds?’ asked the charming waitress. ‘In here, hotel. Out there, wildlife!’ came the patronising answer.
The Seychelles are very humid and the biscuits placed in one’s hotel room would go soggy overnight if not eaten immediately. I was in the habit of taking mine out into the gin-clear water off the beach and feeding them to the myriad rainbow-coloured fish. That morning I spotted the two men from the film crew bobbing about in the shallows trying not to splash their Ray Bans. As I swam by, I surreptitiously crushed my limp biscuits onto the surface.
Just as I hoped, suddenly the sea around these two ghastly fellows began to boil as a whole shoal of sergeant major fish rushed to partake of their morning repast. Now sergeant major fish, so called because of their stripes, look gratifyingly like piranhas when in a feeding frenzy, even when attacking custard creams. You have never seen two blokes leave the water so quickly. They rushed shrieking up the beach to the safety of the terrace, where they stood wide-eyed, dripping and all of a quiver.
I didn’t see them again. I imagine, having turned a whiter shade of pale, they retired to their rooms to apply a further layer of fake tan!