Much as dog lovers might try and deny it, other animals exist too. I recently wrote a post on visiting Glastonbury with canine companions, so I thought I better write about our other furry and feathered visitors too.
People often bring animals into Glastonbury High Street, more so than I expect is normal in other towns. Showman and musician Dave Sanger has been a regular visitor with his beautiful horsedrawn and solar powered stage and wagon. There’s a photograph in the Rifleman’s pub of Pip’s horse standing inside at the bar.
Legend tells that Mushroom Tom once dragged his protesting pony up the Assembly Rooms steps into the cafe, where it left a steaming pile of manure on the floor. Mind you he wasn’t known for his animal welfare – he once attacked me with a duck. (By the way, I mean Mushroom Tom who lived in a caravan on Middle Drove and was known for his short temper, not Mushroom Mick the somewhat deaf busker who was a lovely man who played the entire Beatles repertoire, but somehow managed to make every song sound exactly the same).
Other animals more normally found in a farmyard make their appearance too. Apparently, there is a local bylaw which permits you to drive your flock of sheep from St John’s car park into the High St through the lobby of the medieval inn the George and Pilgrim, some years a local shepherd couldn’t resist taking up this legal right, much to the surprise of the bar staff.
A while ago, on a visit to Proper Job (purveyor of cheap Chinese ironmongery and tools that generally break halfway through their first use.) I saw a baby llama tied up to the pallets of compost outside the shop. I mentioned this to a friend in the High Street and we had an animated discussion about whether it was bad karma to alarm a llama farmer by harming his llama. Just then the llama farmer himself turned up with his pet lamb Dave in his arms and informed me that it wasn’t a llama, it was an alpaca. so he isn’t a llama farmer after all. I like to think I can generally tell my arse from my elbow even if I can’t distinguish between the Camelidae family.
A few years ago I shared a house in Glastonbury with the wonderful singer-songwriter and musician Dora Darling-Swann, her two lovely daughters and their two annoying cats. Every morning I would wander barefoot into the kitchen to make coffee, this became a rather precarious activity when one of the catstook to killing a mouse each night, leaving its head and entrails on the lino. Unsurprisingly no one in the house liked this much. One night Esme, Dora’s oldest daughter, picked up the offending cat and spoke to it rather sternly:
“If you catch a mouse tonight, don’t tear it apart and leave it on the floor, leave it whole and put it in your food bowl”.
Cynic that I am I found this cute but ultimately pointless. Next morning I got up to make coffee and glanced at the cat’s bowl. Inside was a dead, but whole and unblemished, mouse. Needless to say, I am no longer so disparaging of the idea of human to animal communication and shortly after I had a very interesting psychic conversation with a sheep (I found it interesting, the sheep might have been bored stupid, difficult to tell with a sheep).
If you prefer the wild to the domesticated I suggest taking a trip out to the Avalon Marshes where, depending on the season, you’ll find a huge variety of wildlife. Allegedly this includes otters. The otter is a mythical creature, much like a unicorn, as I still haven’t seen one. I have seen swans, herons, butterflies, glow worms, deer, ducks, dragonflies and massed murmurations of starlings. Do read my blog post about the joys of the Avalon Marshes – Flat and Wet like Proper Scrumpy CIder.
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