October 2011


The One Show, at last – and about 23 minutes into the show (please save yourselves, do not bother with the rest of it, it is painful!) is a whole section about our wonderful project, Hedgehog Street. Laura from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species does a wonderful job of getting a community to open up their gardens with judicious holes … though some of that was a little unnecessary as the there were clearly holes big enough for hedgehogs already … but that is the delight of television. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

And then my moment … wow, those 15 seconds flashed by rather quickly, but I am pleased I managed to say what I needed to say. Though they did introduce me as ‘Hedgehog author and aficionado’ … which is okay, but I had asked to be from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. At least we have a friend with Kate Bevan, the presenter who was snooping around my garden – she likes hedgehogs too.

The programme will be up on the web for another six days – here.

And a screen grab of me in mid flow, just to prove, after the web version is down, that it did all happen!

So lets get out there and make all our streets, Hedgehog Streets. Share the hedgehog love!

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I am still deeply embedded in the world of hedgehogs as I research my latest book, for the Reaktion Animal Series. This gives such license to spend all day searching through obscure references to the wonderful animal. And what a treat I received today when I tracked down a fairly obscure book from 1767 by Stephen Fovargue. Called, ‘New Catalogue of Vulgar Errors‘ it is available online. And on page 174 there is this:

I almost spat out my coffee as I read that for the first time, before realising the complications of archaic spelling …

The rest of the book is fascinating and well worth a read. The Preface is something that I think we could all benefit from considering: “To explain the use of education, no method can be more effectual, than to show what dull mistakes and silly notions men are apt to be led into for want of it.” To avoid further confusion, I have modernised the spelling.

Other delightful errors in need of Fovargue’s correction include, “That the heron makes a hole in the bottom of her nest, through which her feet hand, when she sits upon her eggs” and “That there is now, or ever was, such a science as astrology.” And remembering that this was 1767 it is interesting to note that the following was considered a great fallacy, “That the way to make boys learn their books, is to keep them in school all day, and whip them.”

That has helped give me a perfect morning of industry and self-amusement.

I have just had a moment, possibly indicative of senior ones to come, when I tried to check online for more updated information on a subject about which I had written, only to find all the references were to my writings about the subject … which makes me fear I might have made it all up.

And if it were not for the photographs I took at the 2007 Rocky Mountain Hedgehog Show in Denver, Colorado, I might be even more befuddled. But the photographs tell me that I was there and I did witness the International Hedgehog Olympic Games.

In fact, here are a few:

The reason I am back in the world of hedgehog shows is twofold – I am in the middle of writing a book about the iconography of hedgehogs for Reaktion and there is a chapter on domestication. So I wanted to see how things were doing in the amazing world of hedgehog-petdom in the USA. The other reason is that the latest show is about to begin, so if you find yourself within spitting distance of the Double Tree Hotel in Denver, get yourself to the Show.

One thing that did amaze me was the detail with which those who assess the ‘quality’ of hedgehogs on show have gone. The International Hedgehog Association now recognises 92 colour varieties! Salt and pepper, cinnamon, apricot, chocolate … the hedgehogs all begin to sound quite appetising.