Thursday, 16 July 2009

Seeking Squirrel Help

As a sign of my looming middle age (only five years to go!), I’ve started to feed the birds in the garden. I have become an expert in buying cheap seeds and suet, which I have taken to stuffing into Judy’s old stockings and hang them around the garden. The trees are now filled with dozens of feet shaped blobs of Judy’s size six fashioned out of millet and lard. Bill Oddie has also advised me about his specialised bird mix and, after he’d agreed to give me a healthy discount, I’ve been buying sacks of the stuff which I’ve used to fill Judy’s old brassieres that I suspend between tree stumps. You might say that our garden has become a haven for wildlife, or indeed, men who like to view women’s underwear in a natural setting.

Anyway, through much effort, expense, and luck, I have managed to attract sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, and even feral pigeons missing a variety of toes/feet. Judy hasn’t been impressed, or, at least, she wasn’t until the other day when she saw a squirrel swinging from one of her old bra straps.

Of course, living in this undisclosed part of North London, we are accustomed to seeing squirrels, but rarely have they ever ventured into the garden. Things have now changed. My nut sacks hanging from the trees are attracting squirrels in large numbers and I’ve become delighted with my new role as chief squirrel warden.
However, it now appears that I’ve been making an error common to all new naturalists. Prince Charles told me the other day that instead of feeding the squirrels, I should really be chasing them with a very large mallet. Grey squirrels are apparently a pest, a form of vermin, and need to be destroyed wherever they are found. I didn’t see his point until he compared them to Labour ministers.

Now, I’m not adverse to a little squirrel battery but the dilemma I face is this: I have never seen a red squirrels in my life unless it was lying by the side of the road doing a good impression of a Dunlop all weather tread. I’m told that I need to kill the greys to attract the reds. But I don’t see how I’m automatically going to have red squirrels in my garden if I sign up for this grey cull.

In TV terms, it’s like alienating your usual audience searching for viewers who wouldn’t in their wildest dreams watch your show. My grey squirrels are like my audience of mature women with a thing for handsome thirty-year old men in tight slacks and a causal way of sitting on a sofa. I’m not going to beat them lifeless with a mallet, even if that does attract a young audience that enjoys a pierced nipple and has the lyrics to Lady GaGa’s latest toothache tattooed on their rear.
Somewhat reluctantly, I’ve built a trap to catch the poor things – the squirrels, not my mature viewers. It’s a humane device, mainly constructed from assorted items I found in the bag of Judy had filled for the Heart Foundation. The trigger is a length of knicker elastic and the trapping mechanism one of Judy’s old corsets with the ribs sharpened to points. The overall appearance is of a giant Venus flytrap, big enough to catch squirrels, but built by Dorothy Perkins.

I don’t want to deploy it until I’ve had expert advice. So, my question to you is this: do my squirrels deserve to live or die? I need professional squirrel advice or, failing that, your off-the-cuff suggestions.


James Higham said...

Those bloody squirrels. Go to it rightly, Richard.

Anonymous said...

To begin with, the grey squirrels were originally imported from America, and they just sort of took over, pushing the red squirrel population up north, where they're now protected in their own area or settlement. (Reminds you of cowboys and indians, doesn't it?). The red squirrels have a long way to travel if they're to fill any gaps you create by removing or killing the grey squirrels in your garden.

Lola said...

My Croatian grandmother used to say:
Find a squirrel, pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck.
Find a squirrel, let it lie, Ronnie Corbett in a pie.

I don't know what it means, but it's rather catchy, don't you think? And it might have hidden meaning.