The previous owners of our house left us a lot of useful things when they moved out: curtains, several wardrobes, a spare bed, a rather nice bottle of champagne… They also, rather less intentionally, left us one of their tortoises, who had hibernated somewhere in the back garden at an inopportune time, and could not be unearthed for the move.
We weren’t expecting to meet Madge for some time, as she didn’t emerge from hibernation until June last year. However, it seems that, after an unseasonably warm spring, a young reptile’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of wakefulness and lettuce. This is what Eoin and I saw, just outside the kitchen window, as we were finishing our lunch today.
Eoin quickly realised that Madge did not have wheels, nor was she obviously edible. His interest in the new reptile inhabitant of the garden gone, he pootled off for a nap without a backward glance. I, however, spent the next half hour constructing a temporary tortoise-shelter, which meant I hastily unpacked one of our languishing book boxes, and lined it with packing paper and tasty salad.*
Madge’s owners are picking her up later this afternoon, but she seems happy enough for the moment.
Little does she know, though, that I had conducted a box-gathering raid at my local Co-op when I was originally packing the books up. I took anything they would give me, and that included packaging for some pretty ropey stuff. Poor Madge: her temporary home is not a wine case, an organic cheese box or anything stylish like that. It’s an erstwhile multipack of Space Raiders.* Oh, the shame! And they weren’t even the pickled onion kind…
*I was hoping that the box I chose might have contained some cool, esoteric literary texts from the glory days of my PhD, or, failing that, something actually useful. What did it contain? Novels by Mrs Henry Wood and Charlotte Mary Yonge, and the second half of The Newcomes. I guess I’ll be reading sensation fiction and incomplete Thackeray for a while, then.
*Possibly the cheapest, nastiest brand of crisp out there, for anyone reading this from outside the UK. The sort of thing that makes Monster Munch look subtle and stylish.