Friday 19 October 2012

Please don't shoot Mister Badger!

Something quite thrilling happened here in Nottingham when I went out for my pre-bedtime 'comfort walk' with Gail on Wednesday night.

Right in front of us, bold as brass, a HUGE badger strolled across the road, only disappearing behind the hedge when I alerted Gail to his presence. (She claims she saw him before I did, but really, I don't want that story put around...)

Oh if only I had not been attached to my walking string, I would so have followed him into the bushes. As it was I had to content myself with vocal expressions of my delight. Who knew that life in the leafy outer suburbs of Nottingham could be so exciting?

Gail tells me that she likes badgers too - although she thinks that loud and prolonged barking is not the right way to show it. One of her favourite childhood reads was 'Wind in the Willows' and she remembers the scene where Badger provides Mole and Ratty with refuge from a snowstorm in the scary Wild Wood:

'The Badger, who wore a long dressing gown, and whose slippers were indeed very down-at-heel, carried a flat candlestick in his paw and had probably been on his way to bed when their summons sounded. He looked down at them and patted both their heads. "This is not the sort of night for small animals to be out,' he said paternally. "I'm afraid you've been up to some of your pranks again Ratty. But come along; come into the kitchen. There's a first-rate fire there, and supper and everything."

Who could not love Mister Badger?

Well I have to report that neither of my Human Grandparents are quite so keen on these nocturnal creatures in real life.

HGD spent several largely unsuccessful decades trying to deter the badgers from entering his garden at night and digging up his lovingly tended back lawn. Rumour has it there is even some buried barbed wire under the hedge. HGY knows that badgers are blamed for spreading tuberculosis amongst cattle, and as she had an older sister, Audrey, who died aged two from TB caught from drinking unpasteurised milk on a Yorkshire Farm, she too thinks badgers are a BAD THING.

Readers in the UK will be aware that a badger cull has just recently been initiated in some parts of Southwest England, where bovine tuberculosis is rampant. The scientists are divided on its likely efficacy, as many suspect that infected badgers will simply be driven away from the areas where they are being shot, only to multiply elsewhere and later return.

Which makes one wonder if Kenneth Grahame, writing in the early nineteen hundreds, knew something that Owen Patterson* does not, when he put these words into the mouth of kind, wise old Mr Badger:

"We are an enduring lot, and we may move out for a time, but we wait, and are patient, and back we come. And so it will ever be."

*The government Environment Secretary, who approved the cull.

PS HGD update: he is finally home from hospital, hooray! I am on VERY best behaviour as we try to settle him back into his familiar routines.


  1. Bertie,

    How thrilling to see a real live badger! We don’t have them here in NZ, so I’m not quite sure what I would do if I saw one but my human fondly remembers “The Wind in the Willows” including going to a play at the Royal National in London back in 1991. There was something very special about the story (plus the magic of seeing actors she had only seen on TV close up) that she still recalls with smiles.

    Have you asked HGD and HGY what their favourite childhood stories were or tried reading out loud (with Gail’s help of course) parts of “The Wind in the Willows”? Revisiting fond memories is a good thing and, as mentioned above, you’ve already made my human smile today.

    Love and woofs to you all,

  2. Glad HGD is back home. We KNOW you'll take good care of him!

    We heard about the badger cull on the news. We're sure we'd like badgers.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & roxy

  3. We are aware of the badger cull and how useless it really is. Glad HGD is home. Sending big hugs and lots of licks. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. Glad your GrandDad is home Bertie. Sending lots of healing vibes his way :)
    How cool you got to see a badger! Yap, I would have been bouncin like mad at the end of my walkie string too! Mom says that the Wind in the Willows was one of her favorite childhood books too. Says she would enjoy reading it again today :)

    Waggin at ya,

  5. We are so glad Grand Dad is back home. But oh that poor badger, our mom also loves Wind in The Willows. It was one of her child hood favorites and was perhaps the beginning of her UK obsession. It would be so lovely to visit Badger's home wouldn't it. We are glad that you did not chase him though as he might have bitten you (we are you would have one in the end). We saw a raccoon on our property recently (and remember we are city dwellers) we were delighted but mom was frantic because she thought any racooon this far in the city and in the morning must be diseased. We gave him a good scare but with mom and dad about the racoon escaped

    urban hounds

  6. Mum says it's a long time since she saw a real badger. Mum loves them and is also very fond of Wind in the Willows. We too think Mr Graham may have had a moment of least we hope he did. Deccy x

  7. Badger?? Let us at him! We can flush him right out of those bushes for you Bertie!

    We are so happy to hear that HGD is out of the hospital! That is pawsome news.

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  8. I loved Wind in the Willows growing up! How lucky you are to see a badger.


  9. Wow, I've never seen a real live badger. Momma and I like Mr. and Mrs. Badger from Narnia.

  10. We are glad to hear that grampy is back at home and feeling better. About the badger, we know you saw it first those moms are such storytellers and drama queens Benny and Lily

  11. Howdy Bertie, we are so glad Grandad is home. Our mum loves Wind in the Willows and our angel Poppa LOVED it. He would read it to our siblings when they were small. We don't know much about badgers and didn't know they could spread TB. They do look lovely though. See ya soon. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  12. So glad that HGD is home and doing good. Who knew about the badgers!!

    Jazzi and Addi

  13. We would like to know the scientific basis for the allegation that badgers cause TB in cows. Poppycock, we say. Before pasteurization, people in the US got TB from cows milk, too, and we don't have badgers here. Sounds like scapegoating to us. Where is the RSPCA while all this badgercide is going on?

    Susan Wittig Albert, an American mystery writer, has a lovely series based loosely on the life of Beatrix Potter. What we love about this series is the large role played by animals - including some charming badgers - in solving the mysteries. Her badgers would be right at home with The Wind In The Willows' Mr. Badger.

    Glad HGD is home and settling in. Has he considered getting a service dog :) Among other things, it could help him keep his balance.

  14. A badger!!!

    I would worry a badger might eat me because dachshunds were bred for badgers. Bred/bread...does this one work?

    Glad to hear HGD is home. Please continue to be a good boy and make your mom proud :)

  15. First off, great news that HGD is home. I expect terrier therapy will help set him to rights.

    As for Mr. Badger, I have to tell you that you are a fortunate chap indeed that your Gail had firm hold of the string when he crossed your path. I suspect that he would not have relished your enthusiasm and your precious snout might have suffered painful blows had you engaged.