Wednesday, 20 June 2018
In order to impress everyone I had to learn how to talk to squirrels in secret. So my colleague and I decided that she would visit our home when the rest of the family is away shopping, or whatever, then we'd go out in the garden and try to communicate with the many squirrels we have visiting us.
The first thing my instructor said is that to talk to squirrels I must "be" a squirrel.
She taught me to crouch down on the ground as if I were a little ball, and to balance my whole body on my feet without falling over. I had to put my hands close to my mouth as if I was feeding myself nuts, and try to walk, not hop, in that crouching position; just like a squirrel.
In order to imitate the squirrel perfectly, she brought a big false squirrel tail made out of fur of some kind and stuffed it into my trousers at the back. I must admit that I found that personal intrusion somewhat disturbing. When I was crouching on the ground she pulled out the back of my trousers and stuffed this false tail right in. I mean ... that was a bit too close and personal, don't you think? But I said nothing because I was so eager to learn to communicate with these animals.
She asked me to walk fast in that crouching position and by wiggling my bottom left and right it would accentuate the movement of my tail upright behind me. I must admit I found this rather difficult and fell over a number of times. Walking fast in a crouching position is difficult enough without having to wiggle your bottom at the same time. Have you ever tried it?
Anyway ... having half-mastered the walking whilst crouching bit, her next lesson was to get me to stuff as many peanuts in my mouth as possible so that my cheeks would puff out like a squirrel's. I had to run whilst crouching, and not falling over, stop, pick up some peanuts in my hands from the ground, (in a plate), and quickly put them all in my mouth. Easier said than done. A lot of the peanuts missed my mouth altogether. At one point I coughed and the peanuts shot out of my mouth spraying in front of me like a machine gun. Then the exercise was stopped when a peanut went the wrong way and nearly choked me to death. She slapped my back several times and then resorted to the Heimlich manoeuvre to save me from becoming a dead squirrel.
Not to give up too easily, I decided to continue with the next lesson the following week. This entailed running fast in a crouching position, whilst wiggling my bottom left and right, and climbing a tree as fast as a real squirrel would do. I must say at this point that she seemed to enjoy placing my false tail at the back of my trousers. She kept stopping the exercise to "re-arrange" my tail properly. But I said nothing, so eager I was to learn to communicate with squirrels.
In order to climb up the tree she placed a ladder against a big oak tree in our garden, well hidden behind the thick trunk, and taught me to climb the ladder quickly pretending to be a squirrel. I tell you, this is not easily done in a crouching position but I practised and practised as if my life depended on it.
Last Saturday, whilst the family was away visiting a relative, and I was alone at home, I decided to practise climbing up the tree.
I placed the ladder against the oak tree and ran up it as fast as I could right up to the top of the ladder. Unfortunately, as I reached the top I felt the ladder wobble underneath me. I quickly grabbed a nearby branch and just about managed to hop on another branch thick enough to carry my weight; whilst the ladder crashed to the ground with a heavy thud.
So there I was. Right up the oak tree. All alone with no one to help me down again.
At this point I need to say that this oak tree is right by the fence between our house and our neighbour next door. Our neighbour is a young lady solicitor living alone. From where I was standing I could see her showering in her bathroom.
Anyway ... ... ... the police did not believe my version of events and had an entirely different point of view as to what I was doing up that tree.
My family, sadly, chose to believe the police's side of the story.
I called my colleague on the phone to put in a good word on my behalf. She said that squirrels are very shy and somewhat stupid creatures and that it is not possible to communicate with them. She denied ever teaching me or anyone else at being an animal whisperer.