Weasel Spring 2005

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Watching badgers

6.15pm, Tuesday 3/5/05, Wytham Woods. Chasing a tasty vole towards the car park, I sniffed the air and rammed my claws into the mud. HUMANS! 120 of them, judging by the noise. My old eyes see very little due to the soil rubbed into them, so I got my young sett-mate Paul Bradger to have a look. Funny coats, he said, young ones, old ones, some guzzling their disgusting food, others giggling or looking lost. Then Charlotte Fir Comb stuck her stripy nose out of a bush. Let's listen, she grunted.
'Older badgers tend to be stained orange by the iron in the soil,' began a beaky-faced fellow, 'only the young ones have white stripes.' On and on he talked. Someone in the crowd whispered that this was Doctor Chris Newman. Later the people broke up into groups. Some went off walking to spy on our homes nearby. Others drove off in their road-killers. Maybe they'll stick their pink noses into other badgers business. We'll follow them to find out.
Rain - so three of us leapt down a hole to keep warm and dry together. And just in time a smelly red thing stopped and funny noises bounced along our tunnel. 'Birkett's Plantation' stay upwind nice to meet you, Judith let's all four of us keep behind big trees' This snouty gurgling means something to the two-leggers, but it's annoying to us. Why can't we have an earthworm supper in peace?
And thinking we don't know they're there! Up through a different hole, peek through the nettles and - surprise surprise - four stinky humans are skulking in the woods a few jumps away. The rain falls again, the light fades a bit, so back down we go for a quiet life. But still we sense the people up above: the snap of a twig, a sleepy noise, a quiver in the ground need we say more?
'Wass the time - 8.45...seen anything maybe a flash 'not too sure' Will they never go away? Bradger and Fir Comb don't have my ancient patience, nor my orange whiskers. They want to creep up behind the clumsy stenchers and bite their back-ends. No, says wise old I, just show your faces for a while. Send them home happy. Why risk breaking a tooth? Up they go, bit of scampering up the path, scratch- scratch, sniff-sniff and back to real life down below.
Sure enough the humans stumble, trip and stamp their blind way up the hillside. The squeaky noises tell a story. 'Give them a happy ending and they're sure to go away,' is what my old mother used to say. Until the road-killer came, and then the sett being torn apart why can't they just leave us alone?
More information on Wytham Woods, Oxford

Drowned rats

'Dust to dust collects on the velvety fur of this burrowing mammal.'
If you can recognise that this is code for the Ashmolean museum then you either were or should have been present on the social last Tuesday. The treasure hunt, of which there will be more now that precedent has been set.
Last Tuesday, rings a bell for other reasons too. Normal day at work. Went home to an inch and a half of water on the tiles of my bathroom located in the basement. Torrential rain, thunderstorms and soaked people huddling under a drenched umbrella in the garden terrace of a packed public house. It so happened that the dedicated volunteers were desperately trying to find their third clue of 'Gondolas run aground near here and prisoners lament and moan for them the passage holds no bouquet of flowers' when the blissful summer's evening turned into a tropical downpour. Flash floods elsewhere in Oxford but the volunteers first found shelter under the bridge of sighs (they were very close but not close enough) before they found the entrance to the Turf pub. Beer always seems to bring people together and it was certainly appreciated by the seven people. Their attention was focused on one of the pub's lamps. Though steaming the lamp did not short circuit in the tempest.
Funny because the BBC website had forecast only light rain.

Conservation jokes around the fire

Knock. Knock.
Who's there!
Adder who?
Adder you get in here?
What's black & white, black & white & black & white?
A penguin rolling down a hill.
Why did snow stay home?
The snow caught a cold!
What do frogs drink?
Croaka cola.
What does the Queen and a plank of wood have in common?
They are both rulers.
What do you get when you cross a cocker spaniel, a poodle, and a rooster?
A cockapoodledoo.
Why was Cinderella a bad basket ball player?
Because she had a pumpkin as a coach.
Why did the turkey cross the road?
To show he wasn't a chicken.

The Thieving Magpie (or What OCVolunteers Get Up To)

Pica was a mischievous bird of black and white plumage. Under the tree branches, she would eavesdrop on conversations, seeking an opportunity to rob well-meaning volunteers of their thimbles and their buttons, which glistened under the foliage'¦
Summer means Pimms and punting in Oxford, resies where volunteers actually get sun burnt and the absence of any clear need for bonfires. Also beautiful walks in blooming grassland, where in earlier years conservers had toiled to remove the bad vegetation and let the nicer plants grow- such as snake's head fritillaries for instance (although you may find yourself grooming the countryside for a noble cause on many of the OCV tasks!). And what better way to welcome summer (although it is actually a goodbye when you think about it) then to 'take a trip' to Stonehenge and welcome the dawn of the summer solstice? Resplendent skies with orange, red and purple hues across 360o horizons and merrymaking under the stars the night before were enjoyed- I am told by my sources. A common theme has been bacon sarnies for breakfast: the infamous OCV appetites, I suspect.

Old Papadopoulos Sheds Light On The Past

Toe nails in me gruel. How cruel an' me just a poor ol' kebab van driva from Greece (with an Italian accent Ed. It's from me Granma Pap.).
What am I doin' in da jail you ask. What you doing clipping off nails off dirtee sheep is answer. Yes they is pooing everywhere and yes they is wee', yellow and hot at every opportunitee but hey they is sheep they no understand the need for da manicoorr. Two types I recall, da Jacobs with the brown and black patchy fur (like my wive's hair when she miss her turn at da salon, piff she no looker but she cook like an angel so I make the exception) and the other is white fluffy that we roast on da spit at Easter time.
But the fun is the herding is it not ama right or ama right? You no fool ol tima like a me. Yes you need someone with authority. Someone like Mick at Aston Rowant I know you like this site because of the red kite. Theys birds acircle the sky eyeing the sheep- they like da flavo too. The sheep they just munch da grass.
And when Mick flick his hair and shout for them to come on- who knows what they thought but they definitely start alookin and start runni towards -well- da fence. They don't know wha dis for they just sheep, remembar They run and dey keep arunnin till you shout for them to move in different direction. No, they no understand what's good for them, they just like following da leader. Is a game. But dey cleverr than you tink because they all move together and they no need words to do that.
Smell, no dey no smell. Who says they smell? They just soft and cuddly and dey is big. You know it takes two persons to pull them down and get them to sit on their a- pardon mee for the expression. How else you get them to show their paws at eye level? Ey, then it takes technique, speed and dexterity otherwise there is blood and very unhappy sheepy you know what I mean?
Anyways, I was going to tell you about da reason for me in prison, ha, is a long story. Maybe anada drink of ouzo and, ah ta, you good fella, no like da copper who busted me. It was around da time of da Great Crisis- da Bee Es See, you heard of it. We be starving but da students in Oxford dey hungry always. And their hands is soft, except when dey volunteer but anyways, so they is unusal to feeding themselvelse not like da sheep, see dey is clever after all. So anyways, I is a kind man, you know I tink, you no listen to gossip, so I find adda source of meat. Wha? Why you look at me like da? Ey, you scared of me? C�mon I only try to help.
Anyways, as I say, I decide to hunt for meat on me own, I look for hidden animals. On dat day I is just abou go out of my ouse I have me key on da locka when I hear a scratch, a scritch sound and me think RAT. Rodent is big I see it from eye corner in room under the broomâ da hoova, wife like to clean she no messy. That is when I decide to use da rat. Is good protein-rich ya know? I see you know about da rat. Once the fur is removed it quite ok. Anyway as I say- what where he go? Hey, mister, what's da matta? Oi, offica, offica, come quick, the man he faint. Offica, you call the doctors. I no do nothinâ��, offica. Offica, he faint really.
Ai, they dona' make da volunteer like dey used to
Old Papadopoulos

Election special

Jake reporting on channel green news. Recent events have taken the charity by storm. Many an MP has resigned following the scandal on the OCV summit held at Dorset. It is unclear why' perhaps some words in the ears of Peter _ and Jerome_ from retired and popular MPs of the previous cabinet Jamie_ and Kate_ may have had something to do with it. Although this reporter could and will speculate on the recent political mire afforded by the deficit of income versus expenditure attributed 'allegedly' to high costs of van maintenance (claimed the Transport secretary) and insurance. Does the average guy on the street believe it' well this reporter challenges you to think about it. Who was recently absent from many Committee meetings claiming 'other interests' and a desire to expand horizons? A cover-up, of course. Why would so many MPs resign simultaneously if they were as they claimed having a great time building 'stone' foundations in Dorset? And why should the average tax-payer have to suffer an increase in membership fees? There was a reason it was set at two pounds and remained so for the last five years. Economy' every little helps- for the common man. I mean fancy paying money to a charity! As of this last AGM the membership fee has gone up to £5 and will be renewed each calendar year (January' in time for the annual reports no doubt!). It has also been suggested that OCV will begin to charge higher fees from the clients who set the Sunday tasks. Well- they'll be asking to be paid in Euros rather than pounds next! There is some good news; four new ministers, although they claim to be 'just new Committee members', have taken up posts voted for in the annual general OCV election held at the end of May at OCV headquarters on Plantation Road. They have no previous experience but that is a good, a fresh start from true idealists is exactly what's required to kick the current committee into shape. Although there is some concern over the length of a handover period that will be enforced to 'ensure things run smoothly', which means that the old MPs will be given time to 'sort out their affairs'. Thank goodness for the freedom of information act that enables access to public records. Jake closing this special report, over and out.
Jake the rake
Disclaimer: only facts in bold are true.