One of my favourite things on television is QI. Funny, articulate, intelligent and frequently delightfully rude. And I even have a claim to fame … a couple of years back there was a thought of doing a sort of QI-lite that would include members of the public in a quiz with similar lines of questioning, but fewer jokes, and Rufus Hound (I put the link in as I did not know who he was). There was a pilot and I was recruited as an expert who had to present facts about hedgehogs to the contestants, though for the life of me I cannot remember why – whether they were guessing which was false – or I was asking questions. All a bit of a blur. I do remember that I had a little dressing room all to myself – and it had a bed in it, on which I slept. I also remember that they gave me a small brown envelope with cash in it to cover my ‘expenses’.

And that was it, I have heard nothing more of the idea, which is a shame as I reckon I could make a go of the Alan Davies part (if you have not watched it, it is worth a detour. He makes me laugh, a lot).

So why here? Where is the hedgehog link to which I am obliged to massage all ideas into?

The latest QI Annual arrived on the desk of the BHPS as it features a two page spread all about hedgehogs. Yippeeee. It even mentions my mentor, Dr Pat Morris. In fact, here are the pages for you, to give you a taster before you rush out to buy it:

And I am delighted, very delighted, that our dearly beloved hedgehog should receive such attention. BUT – and you will notice that that is a big but – I could not help but notice a certain similarity between the combinations of words used in their publication and a certain book about hedgehogs to which many of you will be familiar (and if you are not, now is your time to follow this unsubtle link to Amazon to remedy the situation forthwith).

So what to do? I am going to drop them a polite line, but what should I ask for in compensation for this insult? I was thinking of a dinner date with Mr Stephen Fry … perhaps with a trip to the opera thrown in, all at the expense of the programme. That would make for a Quite Interesting night out.

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Following on from this I got a lovely response from John Lloyd – creator of QI, and producer of such icons of tv-land as Not the Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image and Blackadder …

Hello Hugh,

You were right!

Here’s the response from our researcher, Mat Coward.

Yet another of your fans!

Jx

******
It reads:

Hello, Dame Sir Lloyd of the Empire!
Yes indeed, his book was one of my main sources for hedgehogs. A wonderful book – one of the best wildlife books I’ve read in years. In fact, I ended up buying two copies.
all best
Mat

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But still no Fry-up … should I press for more?

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The helpful folk at WordPress – who host this blog – have sent me a summary of the stats for last year. And for a beginner in this world, I am quite pleased … they appear below. But before I get there I want to reveal something that the stats-keepers have also been collecting. And that is the search terms that people put into Google et al – and then end up arriving at my site. I would be interested to know which you think are the most unlikely – and also the most impressive … here are some of my favourites (editorials in brackets):

  1. contrary between swallow and sparrow in ancient egypt (I am just copying what is there … if you can understand how this got to me, please share)
  2. where do hedgehogs originate
  3. the cute storybook with hedgehogs in the bottom of each page
  4. punk beijing china hedgehog
  5. gothic hedgehog tattoos
  6. natural looking dog paw prints tattoo with shading (dogs???)
  7. hedgehogs chewing on leather
  8. dead sparrow
  9. new book about opera (well that one should be obvious …)
  10. unsocialised lemur (how did this end up with me???)
  11. stephen fry (this was the second most popular search – and I am guessing there are some disappointed people out there … )
  12. osborne thieving bastard
  13. ben fogle tattoo (I am not sure if this was someone looking for a tattoo of Ben, of just to see if he had a tattoo … it had better be a hedgehog if he does! And how did it get used 23 times?)
  14. hedgehog jokes (nearly twice as many people searched for this as they did for hedgehog hugh … there might be a message in that)
  15. hedgehog taxidermy ebay (I guess that one is not too hard to explain – but interesting that I am not alone)
  16. slug slime feet
  17. hedgehog marijuana (have I even mentioned marijuana? And what is hedgehog marijuana anyway … I would be happy to experiment)
  18. parasitology jokes
  19. fat eating capitalist cats
  20. flagelist (help me on this please …)
  21. hedgehog hugh!! (I love that someone has searched for me with exclamation marks!)
  22. prodded poppies
  23. scared of 5 rhythms
  24. greenpeace hedgehogs
  25. how much is a hedgehog worth (they are priceless … and that is enough of this … here follow the year in stats)

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 9,800 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 45 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 64 posts. There were 41 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 93mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 12th with 314 views. The most popular post that day was countryfile and empathy.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were britishhedgehogs.org.uk, urchin.info, care2.com, facebook.com, and hedgehoghelp.co.uk.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for hedgehog jokes, stephen fry, hedgehog feet, hedgehog hugh, and hedgehog tattoos.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

countryfile and empathy April 2010
2 comments

2

How much is a hedgehog worth? February 2010
8 comments

3

Stuff about me … November 2008
5 comments

4

hedgehog feet April 2010
5 comments

5

Why the exotic pet trade is wrong and undercover investigations are so important January 2010
5 comments

I think it is important for everyone to have a Nemesis – or at least someone at whom one can rant and moan and blame for anything and everything. For me that person has been Ben Fogle.

Which is a bit like saying that you don’t believe in fairies, or that puppies are hideous. The revelation is often met with gasps and a hand going to the mouth in horror.

Why? Isn’t it obvious? No one can be that nice. There must be some evil alternate existence in which he dissects fairies and plays football with puppies. Oh, and then there is the simple matter of the green-eyed god of jealousy. I want as many people to read my books as read his, I want to be on TV as much as he is (well, maybe not as much, but a little bit more than the near nothing I have now).

But most of all, I want to elicit the same response he does from every woman involved in the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, my wife and countless others.

When he accepted our kind invitation to him to become a patron of the society there was swooning. I have already written about the delight when he signed some envelopes for us and how the announcement of his raising money for the charity by going off on a jog was met with awed silence (even though I raised more through the agonising acquisition of a hedgehog tattoo).

And now? What am I supposed to do? One of his adoring fans at the BHPS has passed on to me an article he wrote in The Times. “A Prickly Affair by Hugh Warwick is a wonderful story…” “The book is funny and moving…” “Read it and you will see hedgehogs in a whole new light.”

Is this deliberate torture? Do you think he knows what he is doing? Destroying my mental punch bag? Damn and blast is all I can say (because I have not the verbal dexterity of Mr Fry).

So, who next? Who else can I moan about now I have to accept Ben Fogle might actually be a force for good?

ps – couldn’t find a picture of him with a hedgehog … so stole the one of him and a cheetah from his website … when I went to Namibia and stroked a cheetah there was no-one there to record it … he is at it again….

Its been a long time since I have written here and there is good reason for this – after a little time spent pondering and prevaricating, Simon and Schuster have agreed to publish my next book – which meant I had to start writing it …. oh, and researching it … which is where I am now. And then there is the issue of the title too … I have had a few ideas that have failed the ‘google test’ … that is, when googled, other subjects come up that my distract potential readers from my good words …. So ‘Animal Passions’ failed … I should have thought that one out …. and so did my new word … turns out that other people had got there before me … ‘Faunacation’… the idea of being an animal – oh well, at least now I am happy with my latest (just got to see if the editor is) … ‘Beauty in the Beast’ … I am writing about my meetings with lots of people like me – people in the UK with passions for different animals – and everyone is trying to persuade me that, while they understand the attraction of hedgehogs – the solitary bee, sparrow, badger, water vole, bat, owl, robin, porpoise etc etc is far more interesting and far better at ‘selling’ a love of the natural world.

But this is not the purpose of the post … that is to announce the arrival of my first hedgehog – that will enable me to entertain all the more effectively. And also to indicate that (nearly) everyone’s favourite polymath has similar leanings to me … this might be the closest I get to Stephen Fry!

Someone very soon is about to be the 1000th visitor to my blog … now that may not strike you as much (I think that Mr Fry has over 1,000,000 twits) – but for me it is an achievement and will make me feel just a little bit more loved!

Please pass on the blog link to anyone you think might be interested in the wonderful world of hedgehogs and the peculiar way I manage to see a hedgehog in pretty much every story out there … more to follow – though perhaps I should be advocating hibernation now our toes are beginning to be nipped.

And for the hedgehog relevant bit – just had a question in about a hedgehog behaving in a drunken manner … this is not the result of hedgehogs eating slugs that have been killed in beer traps (at least not at this time of year) – but it is a very clear indication that the animal is suffering from hypothermia – and will die if not taken into care (that is not a judgement call by the way, it is just an observation). If you want to find out the basics of keeping a hedgehog alive, have a look in my book; at the British Hedgehog Preservation Society or call your local carer (details again via the BHPS).

Happy Hedgehogging xx