I have often told you the story of how, coming home after two years in Spain, I didn’t really feel I’d arrived until I saw a sign by the road saying ‘Hedgehog Crossing.’ The Spanish, for all their virtues, are not a race of animal-lovers and would not think twice about killing a hedgehog or fox as they drove; but we put signs up to protect them, as we do for frogs and, for all I know, badgers. I went once to a bullfight – merely so I could say when I was arguing against it, that I knew what I was talking about – and it is not an experience I would wish to repeat. There’s very little heroic about sticking arrows in a bewildered animal that’s been penned up for most of its life and I’m glad the practice has been abolished.
A propos of hedgehogs, I had a dream yesterday. I fell into a nap around mid-afternoon and in this short but very vivid dream I was looking after a hedgehog whose name was Etha Zetrocrutinush. I was very proud of having come up with such an exotic name in the course of an afternoon nap, and so I wrote it down straight away. Etha Zetrocrutinush. I don’t know why but it seems a very apt name for a hedgehog. Perhaps I’ll put it in a story for my granddaughter.
I’ve got another story on the go connected to my successfully using Alexa for the first time. It’s not exactly rocket science using the app – all you have to do is say loudly and clearly, ‘Alexa! Play radio 4!’ and instantly the little rainbow-coloured halo on the top starts whizzing in a gratifying way and a smooth, deep female (of course female) voice says ‘Here’s radio 4.’ I think our Alexa must get fed up with only being asked to play radio 4 and not do any of the other million and one things of which she is capable; I also think she must get annoyed by people on the telly waking her up by asking their Alexa to do things.
Last night we watched a retrospective of Victoria Wood in which she takes the piss out of ‘professional Northerners.’ I too have an aversion to this, and particularly (no offence, Taskerdunham) to the poet Ian Mcmillan who we call ‘the professional Yorkshireman.’ I’ve absolutely no objection to people being proud of who they are: Alan Bennett, Maxine Peake and Victoria Wood (amongst others) are or were all thoroughly and unashamedly Northern – but without being professionally so.
Bit of a mixed bag this morning. But that’s where I’m up to. I’ll leave you with Monty Python’s Yorkshiremen sketch. Ee, you were lucky!