I was at the vets the other day – the cat had eaten a hair-clip and was rapidly choking to death – and noticed a booklet on the counter called ‘Caring for your snake’.
My first thought was ‘it’s a bit late isn’t it?’. I mean if you’re at the vets then you’ve probably already got a snake. Surely you should get the booklet first, otherwise it’s a bit like buying a car without knowing how to drive.
The booklet caught my eye because I’ve always had a strange fascination with snakes.
Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t think of anything worse to own as a pet, other maybe than a crocodile (though on the upside a pet crocodile would be a hell of a deterrent to burglars).
Snakes scare the living daylights out of me, yet I am oddly drawn to wildlife programmes in which they feature. There’s something about them – scary and fascinating at the same time, a bit like Kim Kardashian.
I can’t understand, however, why you’d want one in your living room (a snake, not Kim).
So I waded through the booklet, partly to pass the time until my cat Percy was called in for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and partly out of genuine interest.
It wasn’t easy to read, mainly because going to the vets is like going to a social club. Everybody wants to natter.
No sooner had I sat down, a man and his wife opposite, holding a ginger cat that purred so loudly it sounded like it was having the feline equivalent of an asthma attack (probably the reason they were there, thinking about it), began to tell me about their pet.
“Always out he is,” said the man. “We were looking for him last week and he was nowhere to be seen. About tea-time it was. Or was it earlier?”
He stopped and looked at his wife for back-up.
“About 4, maybe 4.30,” she said.
“That’s right, it was, because Countdown had just finished,” he continued, relieved to have the key detail clarified. “We couldn’t find him anywhere. We looked high and low. And then do you know what, the strangest thing happened.
“He came trotting out of next door’s greenhouse, just like that.”
The full version of that anecdote, if you can call it that, lasted around 15 minutes.
Thankfully, just as I was wondering whether to fake serious illness and collapse on the floor to avoid further tales, another woman walked in with a guinea pig called Eric and they focused their conversational guns on her instead (‘Eric, you say? Reminds me of my late Uncle, fought in Korea in ‘51. One day they were out on patrol...’) As her eyes glazed over, I set about reading the snake booklet. Just reading it made me shiver.
‘Pet snakes do not require much in the way of exercise’, which makes sense – you don’t see many vipers bringing sticks back to their owners at the park.
‘But some larger snakes like to have a swim in a wading pool’. That’d explain why last time I was at the baths it said adults £5.50, Pythons a quid.
It talked about the diet of snakes. ‘They are carnivores and eat their meat whole with all the bones and innards still inside’. Lovely.
‘Dead mice and rats of various ages can be purchased in frozen packages’
Then my favourite line. ‘For health reasons, it is best to keep your snake’s dinner separate from your own food’. Surely that’s a given? Who in their right mind is going to put a dead rat next to the vanilla ice cream?
There is loads more, how you have to put a heat pad under their tank, how it needs a clean bowl of water twice a week, etc.
By the time I was called in by the vet, I was so clued up I felt qualified to buy a snake there and then.
The chances of me doing that though is zero.
Some animals are not meant to be pets. Snakes are very definitely one, and giraffes too – especially if you live in a bungalow.
Dreaming of my five minute commute
I now work in Salford and as a result spend a lot more time on the road than I used to.
It is a bit of a blow if I’m being honest.
When I was full-time at The Gazette, it took four and a half minutes to get from my house in St Annes to the office – five if I caught that red light at the bottom of Squires Gate.
Now my daily commute takes, at best, an hour, usually longer.
This is because the roads, I’ve discovered, and much to my surprise, are really rather busy.
Each morning I head along the M55, on to the M6, then the M61, wait about 20 minutes in a traffic jam near the Kearsley turn off, creep on to the M60, wait 35 minutes to get on to the M602, and then arrive in Salford a sweaty, fraught mess five or 10 minutes after my shift was due to start.
And to think I used to get a little miffed if there were more than a dozen cars on the road into Lytham.
A long-distance lorry driver I definitely could not be.
Couple of quick jokes to finish off:
The Lord said unto John, come forth and you will receive eternal life. But John came fifth and won a toaster.
I went to a really emotional wedding the other day. Even the cake was in tiers.
Goodnight and thank you.