Friday, 1 April 2011

Summer, 1997

It was probably around midnight when the taxi dropped me back at the village. As the car sped off, a beam of headlamp briefly sketched out the silhouette of a large object, slumped across the other side of the road. I swayed over to the shape - it was a dead badger.

It may seem stupid in retrospect, but such was my state - one of inebriation, that I immediately became consumed with grief. What a sorry waste! There he was, homeward bound to see Mrs Badger and the kids, and some bastard hit him! My duty soon became apparent. How could I let it suffer the cruel indignity of being slowly squashed into the tarmac by the morning traffic? I quickly resolved to fetch a shovel, scoop it up, and lay it to rest in the hedge. It was the right thing to do. As if being dispatched to The Great Set in the Sky by a Fiat Uno (possibly) wasn't enough!

Still seething at "Man's selfish disregard for the natural world with his roads", I plotted a wobbly course through the back garden and grappled around in the darkness for the shed. Ten minutes later, my fingers found the handle of a spade resting among a pile of bamboo canes. Stumbling back outside into the still night, I was ready. Tooled Up, as it were.

It was a big old beast, but I managed to slide the spade underneath it. A fish slice would not have sufficed. I barely noticed a pair of headlights appearing in the distance - too important was the task in hand. The low rumble of an engine got louder and louder; I figured it would pass me by. Probably just a grumbling father, dragged out of bed to pick up his daughter, keen to get back home. To my horror, at the point at which I lifted the badger up to waist height on the spade, the car pulled up next to me and a window wound down. John Turner, who I knew from school, peered out cautiously through the open window.

We chatted briefly, exchanging light-hearted pleasantries about our respective evenings. I may well have quipped that I was, "well pissed". Yet for some reason neither of us mentioned the fact that I was elevating a dead badger, three feet from the ground, with a rusty piece of gardening equipment. Perhaps it was an unspoken mark of respect between us, a tribute to innocent life lost? It's more likely he thought I'd beaten the poor creature to death with a shovel. Even after all these years, if we bump into each other in the street, the subject's off-limits. As the car pulled away, I slipped Old Brock carefully into the verge and hot-tailed it to bed. My work here was done.

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