Night of the Long Quills

The Ashes series ended early in the evening…my time. England collapsed again…even the captain going down to a bug caught by eating jelly and ice cream at his son’s birthday party.

Hang the selectors!

Hang the England – and Wales – Cricket Board who have sold the game down the river for a mess of Murdoch’s pottage!

Hang the ‘experts’ who ruin every promising young cricketer they get in their clutches by sending them to the gym to produce huge torsos on little legs and then rub every spark of originality out of their game!

Hang the sports psychiatrists and sports nutricionists!

Bring back Geoffrey Boycott! He might be in his seventies but his mind is young and his analysis is spot on.


And with him in charge the old guard of players hanging on to their lucrative central contracts might have to earn the money they rake in or make way for the youngsters. The way things are these days those youngsters might be drawing a pension before they get their chance.

Remarkably, after venting my spleen, I went to sleep as soon as my head had touched the pillow that night. Note to self…vent spleen more often…

Only to be awoken an hour or so later by the thuds as the bulk of Stein – one of the American Staffords – hit the bedroom window.

Not fancying the entry of Stein, who weighs more than forty kilos, surrounded by shards of glass I put on my dressing gown, took up the torch and went out to investigate.

No, he was not keen to join us…he had other prey in mind.

Casting the beam of the torch upwards I saw something clinging to the  eaves…

Putain de merde! A porcupine!


Not what you want to meet on a dark night…and you certainly don’t want your dog to meet them.

When threatened they cast their spines which have tiny barbs, making them very difficult to extract…treat your dog at once if you want to avoid infection.

Too late to do much except to put Stein in his pen to avoid problems…such a good dog, he went quietly despite the attraction of the prey.

Back to bed.

One hour later, it was Bunter, the other American Stafford, kicking up.

The blasted porcupine had moved to the far side of the house and Bunter was at full stretch to try to catch it.

Bunter in the pen likewise..though with more difficulty as he is still – and always will be –  just a huge pup. More than forty kilos of pup.

Back to bed.

More uproar. The porcupine was in the rafters over the balcony and the thugs disapproved.

Thugs locked into the house, and peace finally prevailing.

Slept, dreaming of ECB worthies hanging from lamp posts.

The morning brought counsel.

The porcupine was still ensconced in a corner of the balcony. The dogs stilled wished to have at it.

Danilo arrived and we decided to trap the animal…which is a protected species…and take it to the appropriate authorities.

Dogs calmed with boiled eggs.


Danilo collects an empty dustbin and balances on the wall of the swimming pool.

I take up a long pole and disturb the porcupine…which is displeased. A volley of spines is cast while I try to  encourage it down the electricity cable to which it is clinging.

It is the size of a small dog, its paws can cling well and its tail is prehensile.

Not to speak of the spines. Volley after volley fall about Danilo who is underneath it.

Poor creature…it is terrified, chattering its teeth and grunting…

Finally he traps it…then puts the barbeque grill on top of the dustbin and ties it shut before taking it to the car.

Not a passenger with whom one would care to share the space.

We drive carefully over to the local Environment Ministry Office.The door is locked.

Danilo calls out that we are here.

A woman answers that they are not open yet.

Yes you are. It is past eight o’ clock.

But they are in a meeting.

That’s all right. We have a porcupine here…we can just let it loose in the office for them to deal with later…

The door is unlocked and a chap  comes out with a vetinary cage.

Just give me a hand, will you?

The porcupine is unwilling to leave the dustbin and thus ensues a ballet of its feet and our hands trying to dislodge it without being spiked.

Finally it is rehomed and the cage is placed alongside that of a possum which has been brought in with machete wounds and is awaiting the arrival of the vet…

Both animals, once signed off fit, will be released in the National Park, some fifty  kilometres down the road from us .  Costa Rica cares for its wildlife.

We return home.

Leo is wondering why his breakfast is late…









U.K. Repel Boarders Force


It appears that the British government…if one can so designate the shambles…have made a blunder.

Having made redundant numbers of those serving in what is now called the Border Force which is supposed to protect the sceptred isle from foreign incursions in the absence of the army which is busy doing America’s bidding elsewhere, it seems that it has dawned on the cretins that said sceptred isle is fairly vulnerable to foreign incursions as, like the various invaders before them, the current lot do not tend to arrive at Dover passport in hand.

Desperate measures have been tried.

Existing staff have been paid overtime…be still my neoliberal heart.

Totally inexperienced agency staff have been hired…neoliberal heart start beating again to the rhythm of private profit from the public purse.

All to no good.

So now they are considering calling for volunteers.

The press has jumped on the idea, ridiculing it with images from ‘Dad’s Army‘, the comedy television show about the wartime Home Guard, featuring  Corporal Jones, veteran of the campaigns in the Sudan, who is firmly of the opinion that Johnny Foreigner – whatever his hue – does not like it up him.

It being the bayonet.

corporal jones

Before going ahead the shambles might like to consider a pilot project currently operating in southern England…in an area once controlled by the Hawkhurst Gang in the eighteenth century, when smuggling was as big a business as now…but then involved booze rather than people.

Let us eavesdrop on a meeting of the committee…..

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen….and let us show our thanks to Bob the landlord by ordering a round of drinks.

Right…let me just check…two Teachers, one Bells,  two pints, one port and lemon, one dry sherry and one gin and campari.

Thank you, Bob…oh, that’s nice……crackers!


Right. Do we need to approve the notes of the previous meeting?

What do you mean, what meeting, Deidre? You must remember, we had it in your flat!

Bob! Another gin and campari, please.

Fine. Passed nem con.

Now, Dave, could you bring us up to date?

Yes, Mr. Chairman. As we all know, the creek is a weak point. There there  is no marina, no harbour master, no customs office and yachts come and go as they please.

Indeed they do! Just look at Mr. Saxon who takes his cat with him when he sails to the Bahamas every year. That cat never goes into quarantine and goodness only knows what it frequents with out there…

Bob! Another gin and campari, please…

So we need to keep it under observation.

Mr. Chairman, may I suggest co opting Mrs Bracegirdle onto the committee? Her back bedroom window overlooks the creek and she owns a pair of binoculars which belonged to her late husband.

But would she be willing to sacrifice her time, do you think?

Oh, certainly…it would just mean her moving from the front bedroom window where she keeps an eye on that new restaurant which replaced the fish and chip shop.

I’ve had my doubts about that place..full of fifth columnists.

Well just look at the customers! Coming down from London after the place had a write up in ‘The Guardian’….

‘The Guardian’! Tells you all you want to know! People who would turn their noses up at skate and chips but don’t turn a hair when their food comes with muck smeared over the plate….say what you like, Kevin could be a funny bugger but his fish and chips were the best!

And just look at the owner! Wears his hair in a bun…no hairnet, you notice. Kevin always wore a hairnet under his hat….and cavorts with those Italian waitresses…

Hang on..Bob? Two Teachers, one Bells, two pints, a port and lemon, a dry sherry and a double gin and campari.


What is all this about Italian waitresses? And buns?

Well, that is why I suggested co opting Mrs. Bracegirdle. She knows all about his goings on with the waitresses while he is pretending to be gay to please the London lot…

What goings on?

Well…out the back of the restaurant…she says it is very continental…

But how can she see what goes on out the back? Her windows overlook the street…

If she crouches down she can see the reflection from Mr. Harbottle’s greenhouse next door…

And what does she mean, ‘pretending to be gay’…no…on second thoughts…

So do you think she could be persuaded to move to the back bedroom?

She will do her duty by her country, certainly…but she might need a thermos flask…

Bob! Same again please…

Right! So much for the watching…but what do we do if she sees some illegal immigrants coming ashore? Like those Vegans, hitchhiking the galaxy….

Call the police?

What? The police? As much use as a chocolate teapot.

You’ll ring them up and some sarky so and so will ask why you think they are illegal immigrants and accuse you of racism.

No, we’ll have to make a citizen’s arrest.

Can you still do that? I thought you got into trouble if you tried to arrest someone…the police are very touchy, you know.

Yes…too idle to do anything themselves but they don’t like you showing them up…

We’ll have to say we thought there would be a breach of the peace…well, there will be one if Mr. Armstrong is there with his cosh…and that we were trying to prevent them leaving the scene…

And we’ll have to watch our language. Don’t want anyone claiming racism.

Then you’d better not have Mr. Harris out there…remember the uproar at the fete when he called the ice cream seller a spic?

So we need to cover the creek every night after Mrs. Bracegirdle goes to bed.

And in the winter we need to cover it while she is watching her soaps in the early evening…ideal time to smuggle people ashore while the nation is glued to ‘Eastenders’.

So that’s one person down there from about eleven o’clock onwards and if he sees anything suspicious he calls us out.

Call Mr. Armstrong first…he lives nearest and he can keep them busy with his cosh while the others assemble.

It’s a bit parky out there at night…

We’ll have to wrap up warm and lurk in the bus shelter.

There’s a terrible smell of pee in that shelter…

Take a bottle of bleach with you.

Are you sure about bleach? I thought vinegar was the thing…

Or hydrogen peroxide…

The council should  never have closed the toilets….

Well, I think we’ve taken things as far as we can tonight…Dave, would you make up a list of able bodied members willing to go on the watch rota?

Certainly, Mr. Chairman. I’ll make the rounds and report at the next meeting.

Any other business? No?

O.K. Bob, one for the road all round and can you call a taxi for Deidre?